Be there for a child in need

Do you have a spare room and a caring attitude? Then have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? Anyone can apply to be a foster carer and the first step is to contact your local council. Tens of thousands of children across the UK need foster carers for different reasons and for different lengths of time while they can’t stay in their own homes. There is a great deal of demand for foster families and thousands are needed every year.

Councils are looking for carers from all backgrounds who can bring a wide range of life and work experience. There is plenty of support and training available for families who want to foster. There are some criteria that do need to met though and these are:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain
  • Have a spare room big enough for a young person
  • Have the time for looking after a child, often on a full-time basis

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Be there for a child in need

Fostering is a big step and will significantly impact the dynamic of your current family circumstances. It is something for everyone in the family to talk about and needs to be a shared decision. Other important considerations include:

  • Are you financially secure – can you afford to foster?
  • How much experience do you have with children and young people?
  • Your past – have you lived abroad or do you have any convictions? You will need to complete a CRB Check. For more information, visit http://carecheck.co.uk/.
  • Do you have plenty of support from family and friends?
  • Is your home safe for a child or young person?
  • Is your health in a good state – will you be fit for the foreseeable future?

There are several myths surrounding fostering that can put people off as they think they are unsuitable. You don’t have to be married to foster, you can be single but just need to demonstrate a solid support network. You don’t even need to own your own home as long as you can demonstrate stability. Your sexual orientation and religion won’t bar you either, as long as you can demonstrate how you can support a child of another religion. There is also no upper age limit to fostering. So, if this sounds like something you are seriously interested in then let’s take a look at the process involved:

All foster carers are trained, assessed and approved by a fostering service. You will need to fill in an application form and then you will be assigned a social worker. Next you will have a detailed assessment to see if you are suitable and the type of children you could foster. You will receive training and the assessment process will take around four to five months to complete. Your assessor will submit a report to a fostering panel and they will approve or not. From start to finish, expect the process to last around eight months. This sounds like a long time but both sides need to know there is suitability and that everything is going to succeed.

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