Being a foster carer is all about dealing with young children who are living away from their families. This needs a lot of care and responsibility. As a foster carer, you have the ability to have an impact on the life of the child and you should never take it lightly. Always consider it as an opportunity to change the life of the child in a positive manner. There are many steps involved in becoming a foster carer.
You will have to clear a number of steps to be qualified to be a foster carer. There is no written exam or a questionnaire, but the process is tedious and you need to carefully approach it. When you decide that you want to have a foster carer, you need to contact with a social worker or an organization who will have a chat with you on the phone call. They will ask you many questions so as to decide whether you qualify for the second stage or not. There are no specific qualifications or experience needed to become a foster carer but you need to have a spare bedroom and you should be in good health. Further, you should not have been involved into any criminal convictions not been declared bankrupt in the past.
On the phone call, you will have to confirm that you meet these criteria and then a social worker will come to your house for a chat. This is your opportunity to ask more questions and to understand what goes into fostering. You will be able to clarify all your doubts and see what life is like as a foster carer.
At the second stage, you will receive a form to fill up. After you submit the duly filled up form, you take the training for prospective carers. The training is only for three days and there is no exam or written test at the end of it. In the training, you learn what foster carers do and why children need the support. You will understand how you can promote positive identities of young children and learn about teamwork. You will also learn practical strategies that help in dealing with day to day situations with the child. It is in this training that you will learn the most about fostering and you will be able to integrate the children into your family and friends. The training will give advice on how to become a foster carer and will change the way you approach fostering and will also clear all your doubts about what to do and how to do.
Children will always be a priority and to ensure that they are going into the right homes, everyone living in your house above the age of 16 will have to get an enhanced disclosure form. It is a prerequisite for everyone who works with children. You will also have to take a medical examination to certify that you are in good health.
At this stage, the organization or social workers will speak to your references. They could be family, colleagues or friends. You will be assigned a supervising social worker who will be a primary point of contact and they will always remain in touch with you. The social worker could visit you as many times as they may like and it will help discuss your current situation as well as future hopes. This is a two way process, you need to be open and straightforward with them. Talk to them openly without thinking about the right and wrong. It will help you reflect on your life and will help make the right decisions for the child.
At the end of the final step, the social worker will prepare a report based on the information gathered and based on the discussions. This report will be submitted to an independent panel who will review the same and decide whether you can be approved as a foster carer or not. You need to remember that you are doing the most meaningful thing you can do and this is a rigorous process because everyone wants only the best for children. Every step in the process is determined keeping the children at the forefront.
You will be invited to meet the panel and this is an opportunity for you to ask questions and talk about yourself. You do not need to do any preparation for the same. The panel will consist of five people who are welcoming and friendly. They want you to be successful and will help you become a foster carer, but they will have to follow the entire procedure before making a decision. You can feel free and be yourself. At the end of the meeting, the chairperson of the panel will decide and let you know whether you are suitable for fostering or not.
After you are recommended by the panel, the agency decision maker will approve you as a foster carer and will review the panel reports. Your social worker will then start the process of matching so that you are connected with the most suitable child and you can start a rewarding job. It takes about four to six weeks for the entire process to complete. Some steps take longer while others can happen quickly. A lot depends on how your references respond to the checks.
Once you are approved and matched with a child, your job begins. It is much more than a 9 to 5 job and you have to remain fully committed to it. The child will be your responsibility and will be totally dependent on you for everything. You need to provide love, care and a nurturing environment to the child at all times. This is a rewarding and satisfying job, hence, take it seriously and give it your best shot at it.
What support do you get when becoming a Foster Carer?
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