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Foster Care Fortnight - What is Fostering?

Want to know more about the fostering process?

This Foster Care Fortnight #FCF19 we explore all things fostering from your FAQs to case studies and stories.

In this video we meet and chat to Ashley, a Break foster carer.

What is fostering?

Fostering is offering a home to a child who cannot live with their birth family. This can be for a variety of reasons, including parental ill-health, substance mis-use or family breakdown, but the most common reason is abuse and neglect. Children may need to live with foster carers for a few days, weeks or for the whole of their childhood. Foster care is different from adoption in that foster carers do not have parental responsibility for the children they care for. The children and young people come from a variety of backgrounds, so we need foster carers from all backgrounds too!

What is therapeutic fostering?

Vulnerable children and young people have complex needs and require a nurturing environment. Therapeutic fostering provides this through building a close and trusting relationship with the child, understanding the impact of the child’s past experiences and how these affect the child’s understanding of the world, their behaviours and their ability to form a relationship.

Our therapeutic foster carers give the child time and commitment, accepting the child and separating them from their challenging behaviours. They have the understanding and resilience not to take the child’s behaviours personally, but to stick by them, celebrating their achievements, building their confidence, and giving them a safe home where they can grow.

As a therapeutic foster carer, you will work with others to understand what might be going on for your young person, and work out parenting strategies that can bring about positive change in the young person. Foster carers who can do this will help young people to recover from trauma and learn that there are people they can trust, and that the world can be a safe place. The relationship between the foster carer and young person is the most therapeutic relationship, and the key to helping the young person.

Who can be a therapeutic foster carer?

You may have no experience of fostering, or you may be an experienced foster carer. Whatever your experience we will support and develop you.

We want people who care about children and are looking for a challenging and rewarding role. You should be enthusiastic, keen to learn and to be part of a team. We want foster carers from all backgrounds as we have children from all backgrounds. Regardless of age, race, culture, sexuality or (relationship) status, we want people who are physically able to cope with the demands of the young people, and who are emotionally resilient. Foster carers need to have the time and space to focus on a child, and we ask that there is always one carer at home to be available to care for the child. Our fees reflect this need. You will need a spare room for the child, and preferably you will have experience of caring for or working with children and young people with challenging behaviours.

What qualities does a foster carer need?

Foster carers need to be able to value young people and to be able to commit to care for young people with complex needs and all this entails. They need to understand that the young person’s past experiences will impact on the way they behave. Acceptance, understanding and self-awareness play a large part in this, but in truth it is hard to describe the "perfect" foster carer. We would like you to be flexible, self-reflective and work effectively as part of a team, as well as being able to work on your own. We want foster carers who are aware there will be challenging times, and also rewarding ones, and who are able to work with the child at the child’s own pace.

Is there anything that would stop me from becoming a foster carer?

Some convictions (i.e. those of a violent or sexual nature against children or adults) would prevent an assessment from progressing. If we feel that, upon further exploration, you may not be suitable for the task, we would not pursue your assessment. If you smoke we would expect you not to smoke in the house, and not in front of young people. We also have basic health and safety requirements to ensure your home is safe. We would also assess the risks of pets in the home.

How can I find out more?

To find out more, please contact our Fostering Team on 01603 670110 or email fostering@break-charity.org

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young care leavers supported by our Moving on Team

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