Congratulations on starting a journey many aren’t ready for or feel unable to take. Be proud of yourself!
Becoming a foster carer is a huge undertaking. Getting it right takes careful preparation. Remember, your foster child is likely to be experiencing a time of considerable transition. You too will undergo a major life change when you bring a new child into your home. Organising your life and getting into the right mindset are essential parts of preparing for the next step of your journey.
First off: research. Learn about local, regional, and national resources to help you and the foster children you hope to care for. Even if you don’t need to use all the resources you find out about, knowing they are there can give you peace of mind.
Do some “field research” too. Connect with other foster parents, both new and well established, and learn about their experiences. Having a support network full of people who are in a similar situation is a great help when you need some advice. At AFA Fostering, we offer our carers lots of support, in person, by phone and online support. This includes helping you to connect with other foster carers through training and support groups.
Talk about the major changes that will happen when you foster. Let everyone you know celebrate the decision you’ve made, one that will change your life and that of the children and young people you are going to care for.
Don’t forget to speak to your supervisor and/or line manager in your place of employment. Let them know about your role as a foster parent and how it could potentially affect your working hours and availability. Explain how foster care can take up a lot of time, from court hearings to counselling sessions, from first day at school to choosing a university. Think about the adjustments that might need to be made and get everyone ‘on side’.
Making your home as comfortable and welcoming as possible will go a long way toward making your foster child feel safe and secure. Having essential items on-hand like a toothbrush, toiletries and some basic clothes is a great way to start letting a child or young person know they are wanted. Don’t forget, to have some books and toys available for the age range you will be fostering – think how the child must feel and how you can make the experience less frightening.
And lastly, try to prepare yourself emotionally. Fostering a child can be very hard work, and it is an enormous life change. Don’t be hard on yourself for making mistakes. You and the child you have placed need time to get to know each other. Make sure that you find time to play and find time for yourself so that you have lots of energy to share your interests with the child in your life. Remember, it will take a while to adjust for you and a foster child and that’s part of the fostering process.
If you have any enquiries about fostering and what resources might be available to you as a foster parent, then please get in touch with us. You’re welcome to arrange a visit to one of our offices to find out more or we can come to you! Contact us at AFA Fostering Anglia, 12 Meridian Way, Meridian Business Park, Norwich, NR7 0TA or at AFA Fostering Midlands, The Millhouse Business Centre, Station Road, Castle Donington, DE74 2NJ.
We look forward to hearing from you!