It is truly a sad day when you stop to think about all the children in foster care throughout the UK. More than half of these children and young people are there because of abuse or neglect. Many of these children have emotional or physical problems due to their situation which may be why you are questioning whether you have what it takes to give them the care they need. If you have it in your heart to offer these little people a place in your home, that’s exactly what you should do. It really all does begin in the heart. It begins with love.
Whether you have children of your own in the home or they are grown and gone or even if you are childless and single, the first thing you should do is contact a fostering agency that will help you learn what to do to qualify as a foster parent. For example, if you live in Leeds, you could check out the thefca.co.uk website that deals with fostering in Leeds. The age requirement is to be 21 or older with room in your heart and home to care for a child in need. While you have the option to choose between the local authorities or a fostering agency, many experienced foster parents prefer fostering agencies because they are easier to make contact with and are not overburdened as many local authorities seem to be.
The Goal of Foster Care
Contrary to what you may be reading on social media, the goal is never to take children from their biological parents unless their lives are in danger. Sometimes they are voluntarily surrendered by parents who feel they are ill-prepared to care for their children. In either case, the aim of fostering is always to keep the children safe and healthy until such time that reunification can be achieved. You will find parents angry when they need to achieve certain goals to be reunified and that is often the source of negative and angry comments. Fostering is a wonderful service that is aimed at being a voice for the voiceless. You will be as well provided for by the agency as the children are in your care.
Answering Your Needs
Anyone who has ever been a parent knows that children don’t enter the world with an instruction book. Sometimes it’s trial and error but when the foundation is love and there are resources in the community, you can find help for any needs which may arise. Turn first to your fostering agency because they have a list of resources available to you and they also have the children’s files. They have medical, social and health history so they may have the answers you are looking for, particularly in a history of mental or emotional issues. If not, they know where to refer you and how you can get the help you need should it arise.
It is a labour of love to foster a child in need. It may be a temporary placement and it may be a long-term relationship. Each case is different but as you work closely with your case manager, you will have a clearer idea as to the longevity of the relationship. Just remember that it really is a relationship founded on love and that is the strongest bond there is.