By choosing to foster through FCA Scotland, you will both change lives for the better, and experience the immense rewards that fostering can bring. It’s an exciting time. However, I also understand that it can be daunting and you’ll need to find out more, before making any decisions. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding fostering:
What is a foster carer?
Foster carers, sometimes referred to as foster ‘parents’, provide a family environment for children in care. This is offered on a full-time basis and has safety and nurturance as primary priorities.
Children requiring foster care have been unsettled and may have experienced incredibly difficult situations or trauma. As a result, they require a caring environment where time and energy is devoted to their needs. Through this type of care, a child’s wellbeing is given priority.
Additionally, children in foster care are placed in a number of different ways. Predominantly, this will mean either being placed on a short-term basis, or for an indefinite (longer term) arrangement. Different placements suit different foster carers according to their situation.
Can I become a foster carer?
The single biggest thing you need to become a foster carer is a willingness to devote care to a child in need. Combined with flexibility, empathy and patience, these are the most significant factors.
You will need to have a room in your home that can be the child’s own space. Your house can be rented or owned. Legally, you need to be over-21 and have British citizenship or leave to remain in the UK.
It isn’t important whether you are married, have a partner, cohabit, or what your sexuality or gender identification is. Similarly, we welcome foster carers from all religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
How do I apply to become a foster carer?
The process of applying starts with an initial show of interest. At this point, it is a chance for you to find out more about fostering, and what you have to offer. You can do this by having a read on the internet, and then making a call to an agency such as FCA Scotland.
As you begin the process of applying, both you and the agency will be looking to find out more about each other. The relationship between you and the agency is vital as you’ll both be working together for the good of the children in your care.
Prior to approval as a foster carer, you’ll go through an assessment process. This is social worker led and will look at a number of different things. They will look at things such as whether you have a criminal record and your personal references. They will investigate your health, lifestyle and your background. They will want to find out about your experience with children (although training is available). It will also include an assessment of your home.
This process usually takes around 4-6 months. It culminates in a panel of experts making a decision on whether to approve you as a foster carer. You will also attend training to ensure you are adequately equipped to provide the best possible care to foster children.
At the earliest stage of considering fostering, it’s helpful to get as much realistic information as possible. This can be tricky. Getting in touch with an agency should give you the opportunity to meet other potential foster carers, as well as chat with those who are already foster carers.
Never be afraid to ask the questions. We’ve likely heard them before! We can talk you through the impact on birth children, the costs (and allowances) involved, or anything that’s concerning you.
This will enable you to begin the process with a realistic understanding that doesn’t dampen your excitement either.