Matching is a crucial part of the fostering process, requiring time and careful consideration in order to ensure that children and young people in need of a safe, welcoming home are placed in a family that best meets their individual needs.

Matching in foster care ensures a solid foundation on which to build and maintain a successful placement for the child. Taking time to get to know children (and you as their carer) improves the chances of securing a successful and sustainable placement.

How does the Matching process work with Your Own Skills and Experience

As part of the matching process, you will work with your Supervising Social Worker who will take into account different factors related to your own  personal circumstances, including:

  • Capacity for empathy and understanding in regard to the challenging circumstances of children and young people in care
  • Any transferable skills you can bring with you to the role
  • Personal attributes and other skills you may have acquired more informally; for example, you may be naturally creative, which can be useful in regard to practices like Theraplay®which aims to support the building blocks of healthy relationships through play based strategies
  • Skills acquired from previous roles - it may be that you have previous experience as a  support worker or in an education setting. Personal Resilience
  • Who is your Support Network
  • What access do you have to amenities in your local community eg leisure centres, sports facilities

Matching: What Factors are Involved?

Matching in foster care is based on considered decision making and information sharing with everyone involved. Most importantly, a good match relies on whether the skills and experience of the Foster Carer meet the needs and wishes of a child or young person seeking a secure, caring home.

The emphasis here is on building positive relationships and ensuring they feel safe and happy in their new setting. We’re here to support you throughout every step of your Fostering Journey so you and any children in your care can feel confident and assured.

Becoming a Foster Carer requires key qualities such as resilience, compassion and organisational skills. In addition to this, it’s important to make sure that matches are made with families who have the capacity to meet the needs of the child as an individual.

Putting The Child First

The child or young person is central to the fostering process, and as such should be involved and given a say regarding what is important to them.).In Scotland, following The Independent Care Review, The Promise was made to care experienced infants, children, young people, adults and their families - that every child grows up loved, safe and respected, able to realise their full potential.

In order to meet their needs, the matching process will take into account factors such as:

  • Age of the child
  • Their life experiences and how this has affected them
  • Details about former placements (duration, number of placements; why they ended)
  • Interests and hobbies, personality
  • , Their developmental, needs including potential issues which may need additional support in place to keep the child safe
  • Contact with family members including brothers and sisters who may be living elsewhere

Location of the placement

All of these aspects will be discussed with you prior to the start of a placement, so you can be aware of how best to meet the child’s needs.

Managing Potential  Challenges

Many children and young people who come into fostering are there because the environment they were previously in was not safe and this may have had a traumatic effect on them. Supporting children in their recovery from trauma and loss is a key aspect of being a Foster Carer. This involves understanding how best to manage challenging situations safely, effectively and from a place of compassion and care.

To help you prepare, this will be covered as part of your ongoing training where you will learn about  Attachment and the Impact of Trauma on the child, Safer Caring, and Building resilience in children. We have two twin pillars which are fundamental to how we relate to children ie Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Families (TCIF) -  a model of practice used to help support young people and children in crisis situations and Theraplay

Identity and Belonging

In addition to factors like location and family size,  a child’s identity must be taken into account as part of the matching process. These aspects (which frequently shift, overlap and intersect each other), have a huge bearing on a child’s identity and sense of belonging. These include:

  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Cultural background
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Language

As part of the foster care matching process, it is vital for social workers and Foster Carers alike to account for the complexities of identity and belonging and to be aware of systems of disadvantage that put young people and children at risk of discrimination.

Strong Foundations, Positive Relationships

Information sharing about things like shared experiences, personal preferences and values can help children and their carers to feel less anxious about this stage of the Fostering Journey and provides reassurance for both parties.

Meeting new people can be a challenging experience in any scenario. In the context of fostering the outcome is to provide a secure home for a child in need - which is why taking the time to form positive relationships with everyone involved in the process (including the child’s birth family) is so important.

Beyond the process of decision-making, matching foster children with the right family for their needs involves welcoming them into your home and co-creating a family with them. To learn more, visit our FAQ page or get in touch via our contact page.