Fantastic, you’ve been through the process of pre-approval training, assessment and panel and now you’ve been approved as a foster carer. That’s great news. But what can you expect next?
Above all, you can expect to get a great deal of reward from fostering. You’ll get new family members and friends for life. You’ll experience many proud, happy and memorable moments yourself, with your family and with the child or young person you are looking after, and most importantly, you’ll get the chance to positively transform a child’s life.
However, become a foster carer will most likely be a big change to your life.
You might well have to wait for a while for the first child or young person to come to live with you (read our blog about that here). You will be looking after children who have experienced trauma and will require a specialised approach to their care. Their behaviours may be more challenging than those of other children you know, so you will need good emotional resilience (and, most foster carers say, a great sense of humour). You may have to build new relationships with the child’s birth family and others in the team around your fostered child; stay on top of paperwork such as regiserting as self-employed, keeping accurate and up-to-date records and logging significant events and behaviour; and you will also be required to do life story work with your child and be keenly involved with their education.
As a foster carer you are never alone. You can expect to have various sources of ongoing support available to you. The most important will be your supervising social worker, a member of the team allocated to support you from your fostering service, who should meet regularly with you to discuss any concerns you have, offer you supervision, and arrange any training you feel you need (as well as some compulsory training your service will provide). Every year after you begin fostering your fostering service will review your personal development plan and your approval to foster.
There will inevitably be frustrations – with the children in your care, the fostering service you are with, or the fostering system in general – so having supportive friends and family is extremely valuable in helping you foster as are your fellow foster carers and other childcare professionals.
The Fostering Network can also provide you with support. Our membership provides access to country-specific helplines, a range of information and advice services, discounts on training and publications as well as money off holidays, insurance and popular family attractions.