So, you’ve gone through the application process and have finally been approved as a foster parent. Congratulations! Now what? Fostering a child is a life-changing experience, with both rewards and challenges – it can be a daunting prospect. However, this post should give you a better idea of what to expect in your first year as a foster parent.
Types of fostering
Firstly, your experience will differ slightly depending on what form of fostering you do. Some of the main types include:
- Short-term fostering – temporarily fostering a child when their family is unable to look after them, for instance, due to illness
- Long-term fostering – providing a home for a child until they turn 18
- Emergency – this is an unplanned immediate care need; for instance, if their parents are in an accident
- Respite fostering – looking after a child on a very short-term basis to cover a need or provide other carers with a break.
- Fostering disabled children – caring for a child with mental or physical disabilities
- Fostering sanctuary-seeking children – caring for a child who is seeking asylum after fleeing their home country, for example, due to war
Special training may be required for some types of fostering, which your agency will be able to provide for you if you wish.
The matching process
Your foster agency will use a careful and detailed process to match you with an appropriate foster child. They will combine what they know about the children and their situation with the information you provide about your home life, preferences regarding age, training and so on to pair you up. You can say no to the match if you don’t think the child is suitable, but if you’re happy to go ahead, then you and the agency will come up with a care plan together once the local authority has approved the match.
When you go through a dedicated agency such as fosterplus.co.uk, they provide support and advice for you and for your foster child at every point of the process. You’ll receive all the training you need to begin fostering, ongoing support from a dedicated team, a generous allowance, plus access to online resources and an emergency phone hotline that you can access at any time. In addition, you’ll have the choice of attending support groups with other foster parents, where you can share your experiences and learn from one another. There will also be plenty of activities and events you can attend with your foster children, so they can meet other kids in the same sort of position as them.
A rewarding experience
Fostering a child is one of the most rewarding decisions you’ll ever make. You will literally be able to change that child’s life by supporting them, teaching them key life skills, and giving them valuable opportunities that they might never have had otherwise. Of course, it can be challenging at times, but you’ll gradually see the child in your care develop into a more confident and happy young person. Not only that, but you’ll also meet new people and learn some important skills yourself – from first aid to child psychology – which is sure to leave you feeling more confident and knowledgeable!