Rewarding it may be, but fostering does come with its challenges. A significant factor in the success of a foster placement lies in the support and help the foster family get, at the time they need it. So what help and support can you expect as a foster carer?
When something is troubling you, reaching out and asking for help is essential. As a foster carer, you will be faced with many issues.
Fostering agencies tell us that no one fosters alone, but with the needs of every child and foster parent different, they must offer different avenues of help and support.
As part of both the application process and your on-going career as a foster carer, you will be offered many training opportunities.
Training will help you to gain valuable skills, essential for you to not only develop as a foster carer but to assist you in handling difficult situations.
For example, managing difficult behavior is something most parents feel that they can do well. But what if this behavior includes inappropriate sexual behavior?
There are many other issues that, as a foster parent, you will deal with but how a child displays them will vary.
One such example is attachment disorder which is a broad term defining when a child is unable to form appropriate relationships. The result is behavior that is puzzling and odd, but because you have been trained in attachment disorder issue, you will recognize the signs and are able to put strategies in place to support your foster child.
Support Groups And Phone Lines
Essentially, this kind of support falls into two categories;
- Fostering agency support
- Outside of fostering agency support tools
As a foster carer, there will be a lot of information and details about your foster children, past and present, that is confidential.
But there comes a time when every foster carer must offload some of the stories they hear, and the damage to a child they have witnessed. Within the fostering agency, there are support groups, your own social worker to talk to and in many cases, a 24/7 phone line to call too.
Part of your support package from the fostering agency will also include breaks, which are essential for recharging your batteries.
There are also agencies and groups outside of your fostering agency you can talk to, but you must maintain confidentiality, and not release information that could identify your foster child. There are also fostering charities who offer excellent non-judgmental services to foster parents and families.
It is a sad fact, but there are cases of fostering placement breaking down – rare as they may be. There are many reasons why this happens, but studies have found that lack of information, leading to a lack of understanding and the right support, is one.
You may not think of this as direct support but understanding and being aware of your foster child’s ‘backstory’ is a form of fostering support.
Taking a child into your home will incur additional expenses, and you are not expected to cope with these on your own.
Financial support is critical. Your weekly allowance per child from the fostering agency will cover all these expenses.
At birthday’s and at Christmas, you will also receive an extra lump sum per child to buy them gifts.
And on top of this, there is generous tax relief and, depending on the child, and the placement offered, the possibility of claiming specific benefits too.
Support And Help When You Need It
Issues, concerns, and problems don’t work on a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday time scale. They loom large in life in the dead of night or suddenly become a pressing concern after being a small, insignificant issue last week.
Problems happen at home, there can be issues at school and concerns when out and about. The important aspect of help and support is that it moulds to the needs of the foster carer and the family, and not the other way around.
Foster Care Associates are a leading fostering agency, offering accessible support and help to its foster families.
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