The concerns that a child may face when entering a new foster home are innumerable. However, there are two sides to every coin, and the foster parents themselves will likely also have some legitimate concerns. Here are some of the issues that may be going through the mind of a foster parent and how to go about resolving them…
What if the foster child doesn't get on with my own children/other foster children?
This can be a real concern for foster parents, and unfortunately it’s always a possibility. Hopefully the child will integrate into your family seamlessly, but children can be very jealous and consequently there could be friction between them. If you already have children, then the fostering agency will carefully match a foster child with your own children to give you the best possible chance.
You should talk to your children, presuming they’re old enough to understand, about what’s going to be happening so they aren’t suddenly surprised one day by a new face in the family. You should always treat your own children and foster children as similarly as possible, and also make it clear that they can talk to you at any point about any concerns they have. Fostering babies, with Capstone or any other foster agency, is popular for parents concerned about integrating children into their family as they feel they can have more of a say in the child’s early development. Your social worker will always be on hand to help with any issues.
Can I afford to foster a child?
This is something that almost every foster parent asks at some point, and it’s only natural to be concerned about money when taking in a new child. If you work already, then you won’t necessarily have to give up your job, so your income may not be affected in that way. But you will also receive a fostering allowance to help with the added expense.
The amount you receive depends on the age of the foster child, increasing as the child gets older. You will receive more if you live in London or the South East, and may also be eligible for more money if the child has specific needs, if you have certain skills or you make a particularly large commitment to fostering.
There are also certain tax relief & exemption and pension circumstances, which you can learn more about here.
I’m worried about interacting with the child’s birth family
Some interaction with the child’s birth family is inevitable and you shouldn’t be too resistant to this, no matter how difficult it may be. It can be crushing to see a family in disrepair, so you must be prepared beforehand. Speak to your social worker to learn more about the family and always be positive during any meetings, especially when in front of the child. If they pick up on any negativity, then it could be potentially harmful.
What should the child call me/us?
This is a tricky one. If you’re fostering an older child then there’s a good chance they will just call you by your first names anyway, so the problem is removed instantly. If you’re fostering a baby or toddler then there’s a chance they may start calling you mummy/daddy. This is potentially hazardous as it could cause animosity with the birth parents should you meet. If you know that you will only be fostering short-term, then first names are definitely preferable, but if you’re fostering long-term or with a view to adoption, then you could broach the subject with the child and/or social worker.