Fostering can be an extremely rewarding venture for a person or a couple. Not only are you providing a loving home for a child who needs one, you are also enriching your own lives. There will be some who want to foster a child but feel they are unsuitable or incapable for a number of reasons, and this line of thinking has led to a series of myths arising about fostering and stopping people from becoming foster carers.
Priory Fostering Services has sought to raise some of the more common myths and debunk them. Fostering is a wonderful experience and is a far more open process than some may believe. If any of the below was causing you to doubt your own capability to foster a child, it may be time to reconsider.
The top ten fostering myths
- You have to be married or in a relationship to foster – a person’s relationship status isn’t important so long as you can provide a suitable and loving home for a foster child. We appreciate how the composition of the modern family can vary, and there are many single-parent happy homes in which a foster child could flourish just as other children have.
- You cannot afford to foster – as a foster carer with Priory Fostering Services, you’d receive weekly payments, paid holiday allowance, generous tax allowances, paid membership of the Fostering Network and paid respite care up to a maximum of 21 days per year. Our support network is designed so anyone committed and willing can afford to foster a child.
- You have to own your own home to foster – the key to being a foster carer is being able to offer a safe and supportive environment for a foster child. Whether you have a mortgage or rent is unimportant when placed in this context, so long as you can also offer a child their own bedroom then you are able to foster.
- You cannot foster because you have a disability – Every new foster carer will go through a series of checks and assessments on registering their interest, during which, any disability will be noted. If you’re capable of taking care of a child and offering a caring home then your disability will not get in the way of you fostering.
- You always have to give up your job to become a foster carer – although very young children or children with specific needs may require greater attention, you do not necessarily need to give up your job to foster a child. It may be that you have a partner and work different hours to cover a full day, or you choose to foster a child of school age and work around this: your job needn’t be a barrier to fostering.
- You cannot foster if you are unemployed – you can still foster a child if you are claiming benefits or in-between work. Again, what matters is you can provide a stable and caring environment for a foster child.
- You cannot foster if you have a criminal record – a police check for everyone over 18 in a household is compulsory during the initial checking process. Offences against a child would rule a person out, and violent crime also makes it unlikely you could foster. However, having a criminal record doesn’t in itself disallow you from fostering.
- Single male carers cannot foster – men are able to foster and can bring a broad range of abilities and characteristics to the role of a foster carer, including presenting a positive role model.
- Gay and lesbian carers cannot foster – your sexual orientation doesn’t affect your ability to foster a child. As before, providing a safe and caring environment for a child is the most important thing. Just as there is diversity in the children in foster care, it is necessary to have diversity in the foster carer community.
- You have to have had your own children to be able to foster – during the checking process we will ascertain whether you’ve had enough experience around children to foster, but this can come from helping to look after siblings or friends’ children, or looking after children through work. There are many ways to show your suitability and you do not necessarily have to have had children of your own.
For more details on Priory Education and Children's Services, please call 01684 560 333 or click here to make an enquiry.