Tor Docherty, the chief executive of New Family Social, has written a blog about perceived barriers, and the reality of becoming a foster carer, for the LGBT community.
A third of LGBT people think they’ll face barriers to becoming a foster carer, despite some social workers saying LGBT people have particular strengths that can make us great foster carers.
So are the barriers real or perceived? Fostering agencies are increasingly keen to recruit LGBT carers with many joining New Family Social specifically hoping to attract LGBT fosterers. In New Family Social’s 2011 survey, 76 per cent of social workers thought LGBT people’s openness to difference and ability to empathise with fostered children was a significant strength.
Most of us who grew up gay can remember a time we felt like we didn’t belong, like we were different to everyone else. We had to figure out who we are and how we fit into the world. Lots of LGBT people have faced rejection from their family and have found their closest, most enduring relationships with a non-biological family.
It’s a journey that many fostered children will go on too; feelings of isolation, being rejected and being different. It’s clear that LGBT people have a lot to offer but some fostering agencies haven’t recognised that yet. A gay foster carer in East Anglia said,
So how do you find a good agency? As always, shop around. The Fostering Network has a national list of agencies on its website and you can check if they’re members of New Family Social (and therefore actively engaging with LGBT people) by looking at our agency finder on our website. Call the agencies and ask how many LGBT carers they have and whether they actively recruit LGBT people. Ask if their social workers and panels have had any LGBT awareness training.
Talk to other LGBT foster carers. Are they happy with their agency? Have they encountered any problems? You can find other LGBT foster carers through New Family Social.
If you’re thinking of fostering, take the first step today. There are so many children who need to be cared for by people who “get it”. I’ll give the last words to an experienced foster carer…
You can find out more about New Family Social, download resources, and more, on their website.