If you are considering fostering, it is indeed one of the most satisfying and rewarding jobs anyone can ever undertake. Fostering is very different from adoption and it is best to understand the difference between the two. In the case of adoption, you gain legal rights over the child and it is a permanent solution for a child. In the case of fostering, the biological parents have the rights over the child and it is a temporary placement for the child. They might not be able to live with their biological parents for some reason and this is why they have to opt for fostering. There are a number of reasons which help you become a foster carer and start fostering at home. There are many different types of fostering you can choose from. These include day care, an overnight stay, planned weekends as well as placements which last over a week, month or even years. If you are interested in fostering, there are many things you will have to go through before you are allotted a child.
Steps to fostering
- Contact a social worker
The first and foremost step is to get in touch with a social worker. You will have to pick up the phone and speak to someone from the organization in your area. There are a number of social workers who help families understand the process of fostering and they can help you become a foster carer. When you get in touch with a social worker, you can get all your questions answered and you will be able to understand the intent of why you want to start fostering. There is no requirement of qualification or experience to become a foster carer. Once you are clear about how fostering works and you really want to start fostering, you can take the next step.
- Training course
Once you submit the form, there will be training for a few days where you will be able to discuss fostering and understand the different topics that are essential for becoming a successful foster carer. The training is completely discussion-based and will help you understand the role of a foster carer and the kind of support the children need. There are a number of situations you will come across when you deal with children and you will get a chance to discuss and understand the same in the training.
- Information gathering
This is the stage when you provide information to the social workers about your family and meet the disclosure requirements for fostering. You will have to go through a medical test to prove that you are healthy to look after a child. They might also get in touch with your friends and relatives to gain more information about you. This is done in order to ensure that your home is fit for fostering.
- Clear the doubts
If you think fostering is an option, you need to clear all the doubts with regard to the same. You will be put in touch with a social worker who will be your direct point of contact and you will be able to ask as many questions as you want to. You can have a one to one discussion and clear all your doubts about fostering. This is an opportunity for you to learn how to excel at the same.
- Final stage
At the final stage, the social worker will prepare a report based on the information gathered and the home visits they make. The report will then be reviewed by an independent panel which consists of five people and they will make the final call. The panel will discuss everything with the social worker and then you will also be invited for a discussion with the panel.
You need to understand that there is no defined period within which all the stages will be complete. While one stage may take a few days another one could take a few weeks. You need to understand that there is no importance given to gender or sexuality or marital status and any individual above the age of 21 can foster. You only need to be fit and healthy with a spare bedroom in your home. In addition, you should not be declared bankrupt or have a criminal record in the past. All you need to give the child is love, care, and affection and this is something which needs no qualification or experience only love, compassion, and understanding.