What makes a good foster parent?
Are you wondering how to be a good foster parent? Maybe you have been thinking about it for a while, but you’re not sure whether you are qualified? Take a look at our top 10 qualities of a foster parent as well as some good reasons to become a foster parent.
1. Experience of Living or Working with Children
You don’t need to have children of your own, but you do need experience in looking after or working with children. You must also have a genuine commitment to helping children change their lives for the better.
Potential foster parents come to us with all different backgrounds, ages, experiences and skills. We value people who have a genuine wish to make a difference to vulnerable children’s lives, something which is an important part of what AFA represents.
2. Resilience and Determination
Helping a child to reach their full potential is amazingly rewarding. It can also be incredibly challenging and frustrating at times. You will need to be resilient and determined to see things through, and a good sense of humour helps too!
In any role, there are ups and downs. Fostering is far from an exception! AFA are there for all of our of foster parents, offering 24 hours support to help them through the tough times and to celebrate the good ones.
3. Warmth, Openness and Honesty
As a foster parent you will need to provide a warm, caring and supportive environment where children feel welcome and safe. You will also need to be able to work openly and honestly with fostering agencies and professionals, from the start of your assessment and throughout your fostering career.
All children need warmth and care. Vulnerable children need this more than most. They also need openness and honesty from everyone in their lives. It is important that our foster parents advocate for children to ensure they are respected and valued by all.
4. A Good Team Player
Foster parents work as part of a team to support a child. You will need to be able to listen and communicate effectively, accept advice and support and work to agreed plans.
Working as part of a team is important for all foster parents. ‘The team around the child’ works to ensure things are right for the children. Foster parents are key professionals within this team.
5. Willingness to Learn
This is fundamental quality for many working in roles, but particularly those in social care.
Foster parents need to develop their childcare knowledge and skills to help them provide the best possible care for children. You will need to be open to learning by attending regular training and support groups. In addition, you must be able to use professional supervision to reflect on and discuss your approach to a child’s care.
All carers and staff at AFA Fostering greatly value learning and development and this is a key feature of the support we offer to those who are potential and approved foster parents.
6. Physical Space
You don’t need to have a big house, but you do need to have a spare bedroom. It’s important that foster children have their own room.
7. Support Networks
Fostering is a demanding and difficult job. In addition to the support that we will give you, it is important that you have emotional and practical support available from those around you.
Having some time for yourself or having the space to offload is vital for all foster parents. AFA will offer you a lot of emotional support, but practical support is something you will need as well. Friends, family and other carers can be a vital part of this.
Foster parents have to be very flexible. You will need to be able to adapt your lifestyle, routines and commitments to meet the needs of children.
All children are very different and it is really important that those caring for them can be flexible and respond to what they need. The more flexibility, the easier fostering will be.
9. Organised and Professional
Foster parents are professional. They attend meetings, complete reports and make sure there is a written record of all the important things that happen in the lives of the children they are caring for.
Although fostering is a vocation (more than a ‘job’) it does involve being professional in the way you deal with others and in terms of accountability. AFA train and support our foster parents in these aspects of their role.
You will need to be able to see things from a child’s perspective, to understand and work with the behaviours they may display. Understanding their behaviour allows you to provide stable and consistent care for children who may not have experienced this before.
All of us need some sense of consistency and stability. Those who have had a difficult period in their lives need to learn to trust and feel safe. Consistency will always help with this.
If you think this list of qualities of a foster parent describes you, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch!