Scotland is bucking the national trend when it comes to the number of children in the care system. Adoptions are increasing, directly attributed to more adoptions by LGBT adopters and children being removed from their families to live ‘in care’ have fallen every year since 2012.
But this doesn’t mean that foster carers are not needed. There are over 6,000 children in care, the majority of whom live with foster families. But there is a shortfall between the number of children needing homes and foster families.
Understanding why people foster helps to understand why becoming a foster carer is a great move.
To make a difference
Of the children in Scotland currently in need of a foster home, just imagine the difference you would make to one child or a group of siblings by opening your home and your life to them?
If there is one overriding reason why someone becomes a foster carer it is to make a difference to a child’s life.
Foster children will often stay in touch with their foster families long after they have moved on to adult life, talking fondly of their time living with you. Many foster parents treat these children ‘as their own’, with foster children remaining part of their family for years and long after their legal obligations towards them have ended.
Meets a need in you
Fostering is not about making everything right in your world – children in need of foster homes are too vulnerable – but for many foster carers, looking after a child fulfils a need in them.
For example, your children may now be adults, have flown the nest but with an empty home, plenty of energy and time, why not look after a child who needs a home?
You set your boundaries
Not all foster placements are the same and not all foster carers offer the same service to the fostering agency. For example, you may prefer to offer respite or short-term foster care placements. Some foster carers offer their services on a long-term basis.
With fostering, you set your own parameters. You decide what you can offer, as well the number of children you are prepared to foster, as well as the age of the children.
You will be asked about this as part of the application and approval process. You will become an approved foster carer with a certain set of criteria, e.g. respite foster care for children over a certain age. You shouldn’t be asked to take children outside of this approval.
You have so much to offer
Every foster carer has something priceless to offer a child – their time, love and protection.
Children who can no longer live with their birth families are hurt, distressed, angry, sad, confused, unsure and sometimes defensive of their birth parents. You will be the person in their life who, possibly for the first time, offers them stability and love.
It takes time and patience to develop a relationship with and nurture a foster child but for foster care in Scotland to meet the needs of vulnerable and looked after children, people like you are needed.
Foster Care Associates Scotland is an agency with offices across Scotland and welcome applications from potential foster carers over the age of 21. Why not contact them today?