At Care Visions Fostering Scotland, we work with families of all shapes and sizes to inspire extraordinary lives. Anyone over the age of 25, and with a spare room, is eligible to apply to become a Foster Carer. We welcome people from all ethnic backgrounds and people who identify as LGBTQ+ . You may already be a parent and may choose to foster because you enjoy caring for children.
No matter if you are single or living with a partner, the training and support you receive before and while you are fostering is vital. We work with a number of single Carers, and their backgrounds and experiences differ greatly. One thing which they have in common is that they took time to make sure that they were prepared and ready to foster and constantly make use of the support which is available to them. This could be going to the monthly face-to-face support groups with other Carers, speaking regularly with their Supervising Social Worker, and attending regular training and other events.
We spoke to Foster Carer - Nicola, who is currently caring a boy of primary school age and a girl in her early teens.
On what it is like to be a single carer, she said, "I have brought up my own three children on my own, two of them have disabilities. You need to know that you’ve got support from your Supervising Social Worker. You need to know that they are there to answer your questions and know that they are at the other end of an email or a phone call. I had to consider other family members in my house as well. My son still stays with me. He was a teenager at the time when I started fostering. I also still supported my daughter with her disabilities. I had to be able to support everybody at the same time and that everybody fits in, which it has. My daughter is really good with the kids. So, whereas I was giving her some support at times, she’s now giving me support as well because she enjoys spending time with the kids."
"The support that I’ve been given from the beginning has been really good. There has not been any time where I felt that I can’t do this. You get to learn and know all your routines. You get to know what you expect from the kids and, more importantly, what they expect from you as their Carer."
As Nicola has said support is key, this might be your family network, friends, other Foster Carers, Supervising Social Workers, Therapeutic Family Workers. The support is not just for the children you foster but also for you as an individual to make sure that you are feeling helped throughout all stages of your journey. To ensure that you are never feeling left alone, it’s very important to ensure that you have a good support network around you and identify how new additions to that can be best used. There are some previously held misconceptions that being single would be a barrier to fostering. At Care Visions we work with families of all shapes, sizes, ages and stages. Nicola said on this, "I thought at the start that being a single carer could be a barrier, however, the Skills to Foster training helped and showed myself and another single carer attending that we were indeed cut out for it and, surprisingly to us, in our small training group we were amongst the ones who went all the way to approval. As the two single carers in that group, we have stayed good friends."
Fostering requires dedication, caring, empathy and the right skills to let young people grow and thrive under your care. Although it might be a change in lifestyle for many, it is important to remember that you will have additional support in the form of respite or short-break care for the children or young people. This can allow single Foster Carers to have a break and some time to themselves.
Short-break care might even be the type of fostering you wish to look at instead of longer-term options. This could be suitable for single people who might wish to continue to work full time or part time while being able to provide a loving a stable family environment for children and young people.
After comprehensive training, when starting fostering you will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker who provides you with monthly supervision and day to day support with all aspects of your fostering role. It’s important that someone is there on-hand 24/7 for as long as you're fostering, and that is something which we offer.
There might be times where speaking to a Supervising Social Worker or other member of staff isn’t preferred. So, along with your family and friends to offer an ear at the time of need, locality-based support groups are always on offer. This is a good time to meet with the other foster carers in your area every month, a chance to catch up on your news, share experiences and help for each other.
You can read stories from more of our Foster Carers to learn more about what fostering is like - can check out our blog where you’ll find plenty of information and links to useful resources. We also have an information pack you can request at any time.