Making the decision to welcome a foster child into your home is admirable and life changing. As you take the first steps on this rewarding journey, it’s natural to have questions about what the process involves and how life will look with a new child in your family. This guide outlines what you can expect when you decide to become a foster carer.
The process begins when you contact your local authority or a fostering agency like Orange Grove Foster Care to express your interest. They will invite you to an information session or home visit where you’ll learn about the role of a foster carer, the need for more carers, and what’s required of you.
If you decide fostering is right for you, the next step is completing an in-depth application form. Your local authority or agency will then work with you through a thorough assessment process involving background checks, interviews, home visits and training courses.
This comprehensive process ensures you are suitable, fully prepared and properly supported to foster. With an open mind and genuine desire to care for children, many prospective carers successfully navigate assessments.
Once your assessment is complete, your report goes to an independent fostering panel. This group reviews your application and makes a recommendation about your suitability. You’ll get a chance to attend the panel meeting and answer any questions. If approved, you become an accredited foster carer.
You will then wait to be “matched” with a child needing a foster home. Matching considers the child’s needs and your skills, experience and family dynamic to ensure a good fit. Placements aim to be close to the child’s school, family and friends to minimise disruption.
The first days and weeks settling a new child into your home require patience and understanding. Even children who seem adaptable may struggle, reacting in different ways. Reassurance, nurturing care and maintaining routines will help them feel secure. Creating a welcoming environment for the child with comfortable furnishings, photographs and activities they enjoy can ease the transition.
You don’t have to go it alone. Your supervising social worker and other professionals are there whenever questions or concerns come up. They can help access therapeutic services if the child exhibits anxiety or challenging behaviours. Connecting with other foster families also provides invaluable advice and solidarity.
While fostering comes with complexities, most carers describe it as immensely fulfilling, especially when they see positive changes in a child over time. Though saying goodbye when it’s time for a child to leave your care can be emotional, you can take pride in the vital part you played in their life journey.
Foster carers receive a fostering allowance and tax relief to help cover the costs of caring for a child. The amount depends on factors like the child’s age and needs. You’ll also get ongoing training and respite care to support you in your role.
Fostering transforms lives – both the children’s and your own. If you have room in your home and your heart, now is the time to take the first step.