Lucy Stevens - 1st April 2022
What does becoming a foster parent mean?
What does it mean to become a foster parent? It’s a question with so many answers but we’re going to try and dissect for you what it means to become a foster parent in the UK, what it entails and how it’ll enrich your life fully.
Foster parents provide a unique outlook on the world for a child or children in their care. If you provide a safe home for a child or children who, for many reasons, can’t stay with their birth family then this is called foster parenting or fostering caring. You can foster a child in an emergency situation which may be for a very short period of time or you may foster in the long term until the child is ready for independence.
If you approach us at Eastern Fostering Services in the hope you can become a foster parent, we’ll immediately be on hand to provide you with all the support you need and no question is too simple or too trivial.
How to become a foster parent
If you choose to work with Eastern Fostering Services, an independent fostering agency, we’ll guide you along your journey and be there every step of the way.
Depending on a couple of factors, including your current situation and suitability, the fostering experience will take between four and six months to complete and you’ll then be eligible to welcome a child or children into your home. While this may initially sound like a long time, it’s important we provide you with the right training and guidance in order for you to become a foster parent.
As you may be dealing with children who have had troubled starts in life and may face a range of complex difficulties, it’s vital that we equip you with all the skills you’ll need. During this time we’ll get to know you and your family in a non-intrusive, nurturing way. We welcome families of all different backgrounds and all walks of life so please do get in touch if you’re thinking of taking the first steps in becoming a foster parent.
Factors in becoming a foster parent
There are many ways you can support children as a foster parent and with Eastern Fostering Services you’ll be given full training. But what needs to be considered? We take into account many factors, all to make your life easier. We’ll sensitively assess you and your living situation to make sure you can give the best support to a foster child. Initially we’ll check for things that would automatically rule you out (like a criminal offence against a child). We won’t make judgement on you, instead we’ll look at how best we can support you.
We’ll consider things like how much space you have in your home, we’ll look at any current children you may have and make sure any foster children are a good fit with your current situation and we’ll also offer an allowance to help support you on the way.
What will you do as a foster parent?
As well as meeting all the practical care needs of the child, you’ll also advocate for your foster child to make sure their emotional, educational and spiritual needs are being met. Advocating for your foster child could mean supporting them as they see their birth parents, acknowledging and seeking help for any additional needs they may have such as autism, ADHD, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome or mental health issues and support a child with their education.
You’ll be asked to keep records documenting milestones, achievements, areas of concern and areas where additional support is needed.
To help a child develop their own skills, you’ll partake in a number of fun and enriching activities which could be anything from growing your own vegetables in the garden with your foster child to teaching them to bake and cook to supporting them as they learn a new language.
Support in becoming a foster parent
We provide excellent support to our foster carers. We know all of our carers and children very well. This means we understand their individual circumstances and needs. Understanding our children and carers is key in our approach to advocating for them. Here’s Paul and Denise’s story about how they found becoming foster parents.
“We love Eastern Fostering Services. We love the friendly, family-like feel of the organisation, while at the same time being able to trust that we will be treated in a professional manner at all times. (Balancing these two things is a real skill) We love the staff’s dedication to the children and we love the fact that we are so valued and supported as carers. We love the excellent training that we get and the outings provided for the children. And we have the best Social Worker in the world!”
You can find more success stories of families who have worked with Eastern Fostering Services here.
Training to become a foster parent
We mentioned that you’ll receive training to become a foster parent but what exactly does that entail? One of our key roles is to help foster carers build knowledge, confidence and resilience. We do this through our varied training and development programme.
We run a range of training opportunities to help you thrive as a foster parent and we’re always on hand to hear your feedback and offer more as and when needed. We’ll not only train you in terms of knowledge, confidence and resilience but we provide everything from first aid courses, safeguarding children online, conflict resolution and understanding eating disorders to name but a few. You can find out more about our training programmes by clicking here.
If becoming a foster parent sounds like something you’re keen to do, contact us and we’ll arrange an initial chat so we can start building together a supportive, caring environment not only for your foster child or children but for you and your family too.