At this time of year, when A-Levels results are in and children are embarking on their first steps towards independence at university, many minds turn to wondering what an empty house sounds like.
The Fostering Network estimates that we need to recruit around 8,600 new foster carers right across the UK to ensure that children and young people have a home where their needs can be met. Parents who have recently waved their children off to university often find fostering a refreshing and challenging continuation from traditional parenthood.
While some of the demands of fostering are similar to those of being a parent, your fostering service will support you through a thorough training programme because many of the children who come through your door will have needs that you may not have experienced.
Foster carers Alison and Vicki both took the decision after their children went to university to foster, and welcome others into their home.
Alison said: “To me, the ‘empty nest’ stage of my life was the perfect time to begin my fostering career. The impact on your own children is lessened as they are busy with their new life and only dip in and out of the family while you have more time and energy for the new arrivals.
“Fostering was something I had thought about off and on for many years but, as a single parent, the time never felt quite right so I worked full time but did some voluntary work with young people instead. As my younger child was preparing to go off to university I began to consider my fostering options more seriously.
“I wanted to be able to give up full time work and be home for any foster children who joined the family. My own children's increasing financial independence enabled me to do that. I had a spare room, a wealth of life experience and a whole lot of love! It all seemed to fall into place.”
Parents who have children who have gone to university are likely to understand the need to nurture and support a child’s education – and they’re ambitious for the children in their care and enthusiastic for their further or higher education.
Vicki said: "Fostering had always been high on our list of things we wanted to do and once our boys had left home we signed up for training.
“We made the first tentative phone call on Valentine’s day and whoosh fast forward to last Friday and there was a teenager at our door! It seems to have happened so quickly for us but I think it was partly due to how much we enjoyed the training and partly because the team we worked with, trained with and learnt from were so fantastic.”
If you think that your empty nest could become a loving home for children who can’t be cared for by their birth family, then visit couldyoufoster.org.uk today and find out more.