In England alone, nearly 70,000 children are living in care away from their birth families. The reasons for fostering are complex and different for every child, but with amazing foster carers and forever families giving some of these children a home, children and young people receive the love and support they need.
We live in the 21st Century, a time of enormous and exciting changes. Technology means we can keep in touch with people across the globe as easily as if they were next door, sending texts and emails that arrive within seconds. Artificial Intelligence is also making our lives easier, with the objects around us becoming more responsive. And yet, despite these advances, there are some things that we still don’t completely understand. And there are still children and young people who cannot live with their birth families. When this happens, the options are for the child to live in a children’s home or to be fostered by a family. Some children will be adopted, living with their forever family.
So why is fostering still needed?
Why are children taken into care?
The reasons why children cannot live with their birth families are complex. Abuse and neglect remain the two most prominent reasons why it is deemed necessary to remove a child from their birth family.
Even when we know this is the right decision to safeguard the physical and emotional well-being of the child, it can be a sad and traumatic moment in their lives.
It plunges them into a world of unknowns where they rely on people they have never met and don’t know to ensure that they are kept safe from harm, that they are fed, and that they are kept warm and nurtured.
What about the extended birth family?
On occasions, the issues that are placing the child in harm’s way are within their immediate family setting.
It is possible that they could live with the grandparents or another member of their extended family. But there are also times when this may not be suitable because access with their birth family may not be in their best interest.
Thus, when a child is not safe at home or with their birth family, they need to be cared for by foster carers.
And this is where you, as a foster carer, comes in, along with the support and help of independent fostering agencies who place looked after children with foster carers.
Patience, understanding and training
Children also need to be looked after outside of their birth families due to illness or disability. But whatever the reason, the rejection and sadness they feel can lead to displays of negative behavior.
This ‘acting out’ is challenging to deal with. As a foster carer, you will need plenty of patience and understanding to see beyond the initial display of behavior to discover what is underneath, driving it.
And this means training, as well as plenty of support from the fostering agency and its social workers.
As well as the initial training you will receive during the fostering process; you can also continue your training by attending additional courses once you have started you fostering career.
And of course, for every child you foster, you have access to a wide range of support options and mechanisms, from a phone conversation with a social worker to support from independent fostering charities.
The reasons for fostering and the reasons to foster
Fostering is an important part of society. When there is a breakdown in family life, for whatever reason, we need to look after those affected.
Fostering can be the safety net that helps and support families to remain as a family unit, just as it can be the mechanism for helping a child to be safe.
And more foster carers are needed.
Fostering People is an independent fostering agency and changes lives every day. Currently recruiting foster carers, do you have the skills and outlook to care for a foster child?