There are many myths surrounding who can foster leading to many people ruling themselves out unnecessarily.
The reality is - almost anyone can apply to foster! There is no such thing as a typical Foster Carer. Our carers come from all sorts of different backgrounds – with one thing in common; they care about the children they help.
Here are some myths that a lot of people think stop them from becoming foster carers – and the realities!
Myth: You can’t foster if you are single
Reality: You can! Single people can and do make great foster carers
Myth: You can’t foster if you are retired.
Reality: You can! There are no upper age limits for fostering, as long as you are fit and healthy to care for a child we want to hear from you.
Myth: You can’t foster if you are young.
Reality: You can! You must be over 21 to foster and need to be mature enough to work with the complex needs of children.
Myth: You can’t foster if you already have kids.
Reality: You can! Many people who foster have their own children living at home and foster at the same time.
Myth: You can’t foster if you haven’t got children.
Reality: You can! We are only interested in your ability to provide a safe, secure and caring environment for a child. You may have experience of caring for young people in your extended family or friends, or through working with young people as part of your job or voluntary work.
Myth: You can’t foster if you are gay.
Reality: You can! Your sexuality won’t prevent you from fostering. We consider your ability to provide a safe, secure and caring environment for a child to stay, not your sexuality.
Myth: You can’t foster if you have no qualifications..
Reality: You can! There are no specific formal qualifications required to foster but you obviously need to enjoy being around and working with children and teenagers. A lot of our Foster Carers say the biggest skill you need is being able to listen.
Myth: You can’t foster if you don’t own a house
Reality: You can! Whether you have a mortgage, or are a private or council tenant makes no difference. As long as you have enough space in your home for each young person. This is assessed on an individual basis.
Myth: You can’t foster if you have a disability or a health condition?
Reality: Your health will be considered when applying to foster and any long-term conditions taken into account. The most important factor is whether you are physically and psychologically fit enough to cope with the demands of caring for a child – this may vary depending on the age of the children that you are approved for and will vary with each potential Foster Carer. Past mental illness is not a bar to becoming a Foster Carer, in fact there is no diagnosis that can automatically prevent you fostering. You will need to discuss this with us. A medical report is always sought as part of the assessment process for everyone. Get in touch with us to discuss personally your circumstances.
Myth: You can’t foster if you smoke
Reality: You can foster, but our policy states that carers would be expected to smoke outside the house if they are caring for a child of any age
Myth: You can’t foster if you have pets.
Reality: You Can! We just need to make sure that there is no risk to the child and to be aware in case they have any allergies or phobias.
Myth: You can’t foster if you work.
Reality: You Can! But this will depend on the age and circumstance of the children/ teenagers you are fostering, the type of fostering placement and on the hours you work as to whether you can combine the two. Like having your own children you will need to be available to care for children, support contact between a child and their family. If you are part of a couple of course only one of the carers need be at home, so the other can work.
Myth: I won’t get any support or help after I become a Foster Carer.
Reality: You will! Our support doesn’t stop once you become a Foster Carer. Ongoing you will be provided with support, training and receive an allowance to meet the needs of the child and a fee for yourself as a carer. Specialist support is also available for the young person’s educational, leisure and health needs. We have highly experienced staff who can answer any questions you may have. You can also be allocated a peer mentor; this is an experienced Foster Carer who knows what it is like to first start out on your fostering journey. They will offer support, advice and just be a listening ear.
Myth: I can’t afford it.
Reality: We pay all Foster Carers an allowance based on the age and needs of the child(ren) they are looking after and an additional fee dependent on skills and experience.
Myth: The application process is too complicated and will take forever.
Reality: The assessment process usually takes around six months. The process may seem daunting but we have staff who are able to help you through the process. Matching you with a child may take longer, but it really depends which children you would consider making part of your family.
Myth: I need a car to foster.
Reality: You don’t need to have your own car but you do need to be able to get a child to school or nursery. The child will stay at the school they already attend to keep life as consistent as possible. You will also need to take children to see their family if parents are not visiting children in the foster home.