5 things to consider when becoming a fostering family
This month's blog, written by the daughter of a Coventry foster carer explores how fostering affects the whole family
Foster Carers’ Own Children: 5 things to consider when becoming a foster family
Welcoming a new child or young person into your home and making a real positive impact to their life can be extremely rewarding, but also a bit daunting.
Fostering brings a rollercoaster of emotions for the whole family and this is something parents worry about when deciding to start fostering.
I grew up in a foster family, and for my final year project at university I spoke with foster families in Coventry about what it’s like to foster.
My research found EVERYONE loved being part of a foster family!
However, there’s no denying that fostering changes family life. Here, I’ve put together 5 things to think about before becoming a foster family.
- “As a single parent I couldn’t do it without my two boys. They support me just as much as I support them. Fostering is very much about us as a family.”
Fostering involves the whole family. When you foster, your children foster too. From the very beginning your children will help a new foster child settle in, show them what is what, and explain how things work in your family. Before long, if it’s anything like my family, they’ll be arguing like siblings!
Make sure your children’s involvement is recognised and appreciated from the very beginning. Communication is vital! When deciding to foster, discuss with each other what type of fostering you may want to do, what it could involve, and the age and gender of children you would prefer to foster. It’s a big thing and giving them as much information as necessary and involving them in big decisions will help make your fostering journey so much easier.
- “I think knowing other kids that foster really helps me.”
Often when you’re finding fostering challenging, your own children will be too. Ensure your children have a support network they can talk to; someone not as emotionally connected to the foster placement and the situations you may find yourselves in. If possible, get to know other foster families at fostering events and meet ups. Fostering experiences are not something school friends or teachers have necessarily experienced and knowing other children who foster can really help.
- “When a new placement comes it’s really exciting, but if it gets to much I go to my room. No ones allowed in my room.”
When a new foster placement arrives there are bound to be changes to family routine and rules that are in place. New rules may be necessary, such as knocking on bedroom doors or having a more ridged routine. Before each placement, talk with your children about aspects of family life that are important to them and ensure they remain in place when a new placement arrives. Discuss any new rules and the reasons for them.
Fostering also means your children will have to share your time, their possessions and their home. For adults this seems like a big thing, however none of the children in my research said they found it difficult. That said, the children appreciated their own space such as their bedroom, and valued alone time such a film nights or after school trips with their parents.
- “I always expect the unexpected.”
All children have different physical, social, and emotional needs and due to the nature of foster care, some of the children may have needs that are quite complex. No foster placement will ever be the same. For me, and the children in my research, this was something that made fostering fun and exciting!
Your children may be exposed to behaviours that would not usually be acceptable in your home and it would be impossible to avoid happening. Again, talk about it, explain why their foster sibling behaves in the way they do and help them to understand the behaviour.
Living with children from different backgrounds is a great thing. In my research, foster parents found that living with children from diverse backgrounds, different cultures and in some cases children with disabilities, had taught their children to celebrate diversity, understanding and respecting that everybody is different.
- “Saying bye is hard, but also exciting, you wonder who will live with you next.”
Foster placements can come to an end. This can be a difficult time for the whole family and having a good support network around you is important. If possible, planned moves can help prepare the whole family. Talk to each other and have time as a family between placements to readjust to family life. Placement endings can teach your children accept that things come to an end, building resilience and compassion.
So, with these five things in mind, fostering does have its challenges but is so rewarding for the whole family.
You’re providing safety and stability to society’s most vulnerable children and also giving invaluable life experiences to your children.
Together, as a family, you can create memories and make a real a difference to children’s lives.
To find out more about fostering for Coventry City Council please call the team on 024 7683 2828 or complete our short form and we'll call you back
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