Lucy Stevens - 28th January 2022
Here at Eastern Fostering Services, we often hear people say, “I’d love to foster but I’m too old!” But are you?
The age guidelines for fostering state that a foster carer needs to be above the age of 21, these guidelines tend to be set by individual fostering providers so it is always worth checking. It’s important to know that there are actually no legal limits set on age, so in theory anyone over the age of 18 can foster. There is no upper age limit for fostering.
When assessing people’s capacity to foster, what is more important than age is the life experience that a propsective foster carer can bring to the table. If a fostering provider rejects an application to foster from a young adult over the age of 18, they need to explain and justfy their reasons for doing so.
I’m over 60; is that not too old to foster?
There are many amazing foster carers who fall into the 60-70 year-old age group. Foster carers who are older have a wealth of experience and can offer so much to a child. What’s more, children and young people often relate and respond to older carers very well. Many children and young people tell us that some of the most important and positive relationships in their lives have been with grandparents, and this can set the process of bonding and trust-building off to an excellent start for child and carer alike.
Numbers don’t interest us, you do!
As long as you’re fit, healthy and have the physical and emotional capacity to foster, we really don’t mind how old you are.
We’re far more interested in how you could make a difference in the life of a child. In short, we’re more interested in your experiences, skills and personal qualities than we are in the number of years it took you to gain them.
What are the qualities you look for in foster carers?
We know that the children who come through our door are a varied group. They are all shapes and sizes. They come from all backgrounds. They have all manner of emotional, educational, physical and spiritual needs. They have their own likes and dislikes. They have a whole range of talents and potential. Why should our foster carers be any different?
We need a variety of carers from all genders, ethnicities, religions, and sexuality. We need this variety in order to be able to make the best matches for the diverse children we care for. Matching children and foster carers well gives the fostering relationship the best opportunity of flourishing which brings positive outcomes for the children and rewarding fostering to the carers.
The best carers are those who are able to provide attuned care to children and young people. This requires a high degree of emotional intelligence, empathy, warmth and commitment. A foster carer needs to be able to put themselves snugly in the shoes of the children they are caring for.
Foster carers have to work with a range of professionals who are there to support the child. Therefore it is critical that foster carers are able to communicate and work well with others. Having experience of working as part of a team is useful in this regard. Communication is central to fostering, not just with professionals but with the children themselves.
Having experience of caring for or working with children is another very useful quality to have. It may be that you have raised your own children, step children or been involved with your grandchildren. It may be that you work with children in your professional life or as a volunteer.
But without doubt the most important thing we look for in a foster carer is authenticity. You must have a sincere and deep-rooted desire to positively change the life of a child. To be that person who stands by them and supports them, who advocates for them and who understands them. Without this desire, fostering will be very difficult to sustain (and also the children will sniff you out immediately!).
So, you see, it’s really not about age at all. Fostering is about who you are, what you bring and why.
If you’d like to foster and wish to talk to us further, you can contact us via our website, Facebook page or email at email@example.com You can also check out some of our short videos on YouTube which cover some of the many questions we get asked about fostering.
If you would like to speak to us, you can call us on 01206 299775.