If you were to make a formal enquiry about fostering with us, one of the things we would ask you fairly early on to tell us about your experience of being around children. A person who has never looked after a child or children could easily underestimate how demanding it can sometimes be, but it’s important to us that prospective foster carers have some first-hand experience of this and that they have realistic expectations about what fostering might be like. Almost all of the people we meet who are considering fostering have experience of being around children, either working with or caring for other people’s children or through raising their own children.
For almost all of those prospective foster carers with children still living at home, their primary - and completely understandable! - concern about fostering is the impact it might have on their own children.
In fact, the news here is good. Almost all of the research indicates that being part of a family that fosters helps foster carers’ own children to develop fantastic social skills, empathy, caring and a sense of social responsibility that makes their parents and the children themselves extremely proud.
In a sense, the children of foster carers are little foster carers, with the added benefit of being able to see the role they play from a child’s perspective.
With this in mind, as part of our series of articles for Foster Care Fortnight #FCF2016, we thought it might be interesting to hear from one of our foster carers’ own children about what they think it takes to be a good foster carer.
Matthew lives in Cumbria. He is 13 years old and his parents are both foster carers, supported by our fostering team based out of our local office in Carlisle. The family has been fostering for over 2 years, and over that time they have offered a safe, caring foster home to 2 children (at different times) who have both since moved on. Matthew and his family recently met the next child to be on placement with them, and they are currently waiting for arrangements to be finalised so that they can welcome the child into their home, and to their family. Although Matthew is not a fostered child, he is a valued part of the foster family and, like all the sons and daughters of our foster carers, he receives lots of ongoing support from the Family Fostercare team to help him with this role. He has formed a great relationship with Tino, one of our student Social Workers, who is working with Matthew to explore ways to help him cope with having other children in his home.
What Matthew Says it Takes to be a Good Foster Carer
“To make a good foster carer you have to be kind and caring but hardworking and determined. You have to make them feel loved and make them laugh so they feel at home and when they are in need you help them.”
A fantastic description of what it takes from someone with first-hand experience and a unique perspective, and a wonderful and insightful summary of the role of the foster family. Thanks Matthew!
So, if you would describe yourself as:
And if you think you and your family can help a child:
- feel at home
- feel loved
- whenever they need you (and even when they think they don't)
then according to Matthew – and us – you might just make a fantastic foster carer and we’d love to hear from you... right now, because NOW is the “Time to Foster, Time to Care”.
PS. Since we posted our first article in this series yesterday, 72 children will have been taken into care across the UK. If you think you could foster, please find out more today.
PPS. If you would like to find out more about children whose parents foster there are some useful resources on the topic on the Fostering Network website, including a video and a free book to download and look at together with your children.