Would you make a good foster carer? – 6 things we look for in potential foster carers
Putting yourself forward to become a foster carer is a big decision. Some people feel are confident it is the right path for them and believe they will make good foster carers. However, more often than not, potential foster carers spend a lot of time wondering if they will make a good foster carer before they take the first step of making an enquiry. But, what makes a good foster carer? What do fostering agencies look for when assessing people to become foster carers? In this post we are sharing the personal attributes we look for when assessing an applicant’s suitability to become a foster carer with us. A spare room is a necessity, an underlying and unyielding desire to help and support children is essential but there are many more qualities we like to see in our foster carers.
What makes a good foster carer?
A good listener – Children placed with a foster carer are likely to be going through a difficult time with their own families. Foster carers need to listen to children when they want to share their fears and their worries or just talk about how they feel about their situation. A problem shared is a problem halved and by just being there and listening to a child, you can help them to feel valued and supported. Communications between their birth families may be unstable or broken down completely so it is really important the children in foster families feel like they have someone to talk to who is happy to listen.
Supportive and encouraging – A good foster carer will be supportive and encouraging. Children need support to thrive and be happy, be that through help with their school work or celebrating their achievements, no matter how small, so they learn to feel proud of themselves and realise they are worthy and capable of achieving anything they set their mind to. Children placed in foster care are often vulnerable and may have been through traumatic experiences at home, a supportive and encouraging foster carer can help a child rebuild their confidence and help them enjoy the happy childhood they deserve.
Understanding and empathy – Foster carers needs to have empathy in abundance. Listening is important but taking the time to try and understand a situation from the child’s point of view, to put yourself in their shoes and try to really understand how they are feeling is important. By being empathetic you are more equipped to adjust and alter your parenting style to give each foster child you care for exactly what they need to feel safe and loved. By taking the time to really understand what a child has been or is currently going through, foster carers are able to provide the children in their care with the best possible support they can.
Patience – Children don’t always come into a new foster home happily. It can take a long time for a child to settle in and get used to life as part of a foster family. A good foster carer will be willing to wait out the difficult times, knowing that through patience and love they will ultimately be able to make a positive difference to the lives of children in their care. Children can be coming to you from a whole range of different family circumstances and it is important you give them the time they need to heal from the past and adjust into their new life.
Willing to ‘let go’ and help children move on – Many people are put off fostering as they are scared of building a relationship with a child to then have to say goodbye. The fear of getting attached is a major factor as to why people decide they couldn’t go ahead with fostering. A good foster carer, however, needs to role model healthy relationships. We want foster carers who are willing to put their own hearts on the line and put the wellbeing and happiness of their foster children first. Children in foster care need love, nurture and support from their foster carer in order to experience a sense of being cared for. A good foster carer is willing to feel the pain of saying goodbye, knowing that by committing completely to a child they have helped them to have a happier childhood and a happier future.
A big BIG heart – A good foster carer is caring, loving, supportive, encouraging, empathetic, understanding, a shoulder to cry on and an ear always happy to listen. We want foster carers with big hearts, people who are as passionate as we are about embracing the lives of children and helping them to have the happy childhoods they deserve. We are looking for foster carers whose patience has no limits, who genuinely want to do all they can to help the children in their care and make a long lasting and positive difference to their lives.