Busting Myths About Fostering and the LGBTQ+ Community
Happy Pride month! Pride is a month of celebration for the LGBTQI+ community and as a fostering agency we like to show our support. This year we are marking the occasion by sharing some facts about the fostering and LGBT+ community and we are also sharing some useful resources for parents and carers raising children who identify as LGBTQ+.
Busting myths about LGBTQ+ foster carers
Unfortunately, even in 2022, there are people who want to foster but don’t apply because they are worried about discrimination. We understand why members of the LGBT+ community may feel apprehensive about getting in touch, but we welcome people of all genders, sexualities and relationship statuses to make an enquiry with us.
To be able to offer children and young people excellent foster carer, you need to have patience, be supportive and caring, loving and prepared for a challenge. We know that your gender or sexuality does not prevent you from providing children with the love and support they need.
If you have heard that you can’t foster if you are gay, or you can’t foster if you’re transgender or in a same sex relationship, we are here to assure you that these are just myths and outdated opinions. At Focus, we aim to have a diverse team of foster carers, to be able to best place the diverse range of children that come into our care.
Research carried out by Action for Children found that 32% of the LGBT people questioned thought they would not be able to foster. This is not true. The following quote from the Government report into fostering statistics shows that more foster carers from all backgrounds are urgently needed to find the most suitable foster families for the growing number of children in foster care:
“As at 31 March 2021, the number of approved foster carers was 76,640. This continues the slow increase in number of foster carers over the years, with a 4% increase from 2014 to 2015 (73,845 carers). Despite this increase in foster carers, the number has not kept up with demand in the sector, which has had an increase of around 11% in the number of fostered children over the period to March 2020. Although the number of children in care continues to grow, one of the most significant challenges in suitably matching children with carers is the shortage of fostering families, increasing the likelihood of further instability for fostered children.” –https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fostering-in-england-1-april-2020-to-31-march-2021/fostering-in-england-2020-to-2021-main-findings
LGBT+ parents and carers have a lot to offer children in terms of support. Often, LGBT+ individuals have experienced challenges in their own lives, they know how it feels to be ‘different’ and can better empathise and offer advice than people who have experienced life with little struggle.
The fostering assessment process involves the assessing Social Worker asking lots of questions about all applicants’ lifestyles and experiences. To ensure your suitability for fostering, the assessment must be thorough, but we approach the process without any discrimination or judgement.
Useful resources for carers and parents of LGBT+ children and young people
Being a child in foster care is not always easy. Life in care can feel uncertain and cause a lot of anxiety and stress for young people being looked after away from their birth families. Growing up and discovering how you feel about yourself, and your sexuality can also be a difficult time in a young person’s life.
It is important that foster carers know how to best support LGBT+ children in their care and have the necessary knowledge to help young people through what can be a very challenging time. Statistics show that more young people are identifying as LGBT+ than ever before. Unfortunately, research also shows that LGBT youth experience more bullying and can face more challenges than their peers. Knowing how to effectively help and support children is essential in improving their life experiences. Parents and carers don’t always have all the answers, but there are many organisations that provide support and guidance for parents, carers and their children.
Here are some useful links to websites that can help parents and carers raise LGBT youth in a loving and supportive way:
Action for Children – Gender Identity Guide – https://media.actionforchildren.org.uk/documents/1166_Gender_Identity_Guide_2022_v2.pdf
Mermaids Charity – Supporting gender diverse children and their families – https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/
LGBT Youth In Care Network – LGBT+ information for foster carers https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ff85c71dd4cdc650b25d90d/t/6006bf5d6506eb0065a1b115/1611054944795/LGBT%2BInformation%2Bfor%2BFoster%2BCarers.pdf
The Be You Project – Information for parents, carers and friends – https://thebeyouproject.co.uk/for-parents-carers-and-friends/
Stonewall LBGT help & support line 0800 0502020 – https://www.stonewall.org.uk/
Focus Foster Care welcome enquiries from the LGBT+ community all year round, not just during Pride month. If you are West Midlands based and are interested in fostering, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us via telephone on 0800 524 4797 or email email@example.com.
To find out more about fostering and how to become a foster carer with our independent fostering agency, please read the following pages on our website:
Types of foster care.
Who can foster?
How to become a foster carer with Focus Foster Care.
Fostering – frequently asked questions.
The benefits of fostering with Focus Foster Care.