Becoming a foster carer

If you want to be a foster carer, you will most likely have a host of questions.

The first and biggest question is often, “what training and background do I need to be a foster carer?”

The fact is that anyone can apply to be a foster parent. You can contact a fostering agency such as Orange Grove Fostercare to discuss whether becoming a foster carer is for you. Fostering is simply providing nurture, care and sustenance to children and young people who are, through no fault of their own, left vulnerable to the world. Some children have lost their family or parents through death whilst others may have lived in a home where their family is unable to provide them with the necessities of life.

Why become a carer?

Children and young people throughout the UK need homes and more foster homes are needed all the time. Each child has his or her own special set of circumstances.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and somewhere, a child needs someone like you to provide the home they need, whether it be a temporary home or a long-term home. When you do apply to be a foster carer, there is a simple process.

The process of becoming a foster carer

The agency or the local authority, if you choose to go directly to the local council, conduct a Criminal Records Bureau check (CRB) for you and any member of your household that is over the age of 18. They will also carry out a health check on you.

Once this is satisfactorily completed, there will be a preparation period which includes training alongside other people who have applied to become foster carers who applied around the same time that you did. During this period, the agency or council assesses your suitability to foster and your foster care skill level. The whole process can take up to six months.

At the end of the assessment period your application to be a foster carer will be presented to an independent panel. This foster care panel will review your assessment and will make a recommendation on whether you can become a foster carer. While anyone can apply, there are certain factors that are assessed and evaluated. Not everyone has the temperament or facilities to ensure appropriate foster care.

Once the independent panel has made its recommendation, the agency or council makes the final decision on your suitability to foster. This assessment process gives you time to understand the expectations and demands of foster care.

Is there any support for carers?

A social worker is on hand to help you through the process and provide advice and support once you do become foster parents. There are many different types of fostering and over time you will learn your strengths and weaknesses as a foster parent. One of the biggest challenges of being a foster carer is bonding with a foster child who is later moved from your care to return to his or her family or to an adoptive family.

It takes a special person to love and care for a child knowing that the child may only be with you temporarily. While there is a joy when a child is able to return to his or her own family or a successful adoption takes place, there is also wistfulness in letting that child go.