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How to Decide If You Are Fit to Foster – Part One

Would you make a great foster parent? It’s a daunting prospect that can pose a lot of questions. With so many misconceptions out there, a lot of people are frequently put off from applying because they feel they won’t meet the criteria. In this two-part feature, you’ll discover how to decide if you are fit to foster. In part one below, we’ll look at the reasons you want to foster and the skills required to be a great foster parent.

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What are your reasons for fostering?

There are actually a number of reasons why people decide they want to foster a child. The number one reason you should consider fostering is to make a positive difference to a child’s life. If that’s your reason for wanting to become a foster parent, you’re already over half way there to becoming a great foster carer.

So what about the reasons you shouldn’t consider fostering? Well, they include:

  • You want to foster because you think it will make you happier
  • You could use the extra money
  • Your existing child would benefit from a playmate
  • Fostering is rewarding and it can certainly make you happier. However, if you’re currently unhappy then it wouldn’t be fair to introduce a vulnerable child into the home. You need to ensure the child is entering a happy, loving home. If you’re simply fostering because you’re hoping it will alleviate your depression, then you’re not going to be a good fit.

    One of the worst reasons you can have for wanting to foster is thinking only about the money. While it’s true foster carers receive an allowance for the children in their care. That money is provided for the child. It ensures you can feed them, buy new clothes, toys and anything they may need. Fostering is extremely challenging so if you’re only doing it for financial compensation you may find yourself unable to cope with your new responsibility.

    Simply wanting a new playmate for your child without giving birth is another bad reason to consider fostering. Remember, the children entering your home often come from unstable backgrounds. Sadly, many don’t even know how to play. They’re going to need understanding, love and patience and are unlikely to jump straight into a happy, trusting relationship with your child.

    Be honest about the reasons you want to foster before you apply.

    Do you have the right skills?

    Once you know you’re doing it for the right reasons, it’s important to assess whether you have the right skills. Good foster parents need:

  • Patience
  • Understanding
  • Unconditional love
  • Those are the top 3 skills any foster parent must have. Patience is an absolute must. The child entering your home could be scared, angry and confused at being taken away from their home. Even if that home was abusive, they don’t know any different so they won’t necessarily feel relief at being taken away. You’ll need to have patience and understanding to help them transition and to realise it may take a little time for them to open up.

    These are just the basics required in order to be a good foster parent. It is worth noting that you do receive training and continuous support once you become a foster carer. You’re never completely alone. Look out for part two where we’ll look a little deeper into what it takes to be a good foster parent.

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