What does it mean to foster a child? It means something different to every family who chooses to make this decision. For some people, it is a total change to the dynamic, as they transform from a couple into a family. For others, fostering a child is adding to the number of children they already care for, expanding the numbers. No matter what your situation, choosing to foster a child is a big decision, and one that is life-changing not only for you, but for everyone around you.
So, why foster a child? It is true that becoming a foster parent isn’t easy. Adding a new personality to the family mix can be risky, time-consuming, and put strain on existing relationships. But, like everything in life that is difficult, it comes with great reward.
If a child is in a position where they need to be fostered, the chances are, things haven’t worked out very well in their life so far. Part of fostering is having an open and non-judgemental attitude as to why this may be. As a result of an instability, these children are often vulnerable, and thus can behave in different ways depending on their age, circumstance, and personality. This is where your family and friends will play an integral part, by being a support system. However, it’s vital to remember that despite what’s gone on in their past, each child deserves the chance to have a positive future. Fostering is one of the ways that you can help to create that future. Fostering a child is more than simply putting a roof over their head, or cooking them a warm meal: it’s about providing a foundation of love and support from which they can grow as individuals.
Helping to improve a child’s future isn’t the only form of reward that becoming a foster parent will bring you. Foster parents receive a fostering allowance, which varies in price depending on whether you choose to foster from a Private Fostering Agency also referred to as an Independent Fostering Agency, or opt for Local Authority Fostering. The fostering allowance is to pay for essentials such as food, books and clothes, as well as extras such as days out, school trips, and toys. As foster parents are becoming widely regarded as child-care professionals, the allowance also takes into consideration that fostering can be hard work. Independent Fostering Agencies and the Local Authority provide the allowance in order to compensate for the work that foster parents do. The allowance is paid weekly, and as a general rule, foster carers don’t pay any tax on their earnings. If you’re thinking of fostering but were worried about the cost, then don’t fret – some foster care agencies provide an allowance of up to £450 per week per child.
As well as helping to shape a child’s future, and being financially covered for the cost of doing so, becoming a foster parent can be rewarding in terms of your family dynamic. If you already have children, the flexibility of the role means that you can end up spending more time at home, caring for your children. While normal 9-5 jobs often result in children being left with child-minders or relatives, becoming a foster parent allows you to become a childcare professional, and thus you can work from home and spend time with your family. Having more children in the home to interact with is positive for the development of both your foster children and the children you already live with, so it is positive for everyone. If you have no children, or are single, then the dynamic will change even more. You will have to quickly switch from being a single person who is responsible for themselves only, to taking on the responsibility of caring for another human being. However, while the adjustment will feel huge to begin with, you will soon fit into the role. Caring for others is part of the joy of life, and fostering is no different. It will change your perspective on life, for the better.
Fostering is rewarding for many reasons, not just the contribution to society or personal development.
To find out more about fostering, or to discuss whether you’d be a good fit, click here.