Becoming a foster carer is a life-changing decision, both for you and your family. If you have your own children then this needs additional consideration and discussions with them. Fostering a child when you have children of your own allows you to use your existing knowledge and experience in caring for children ) and fostering can also be an enriching and meaningful experience for your own children.
Changes to family membership and relationships are a natural part of life. Families constantly evolve as they adjust to influences coming from both inside and outside the home (typically significant life events such as the birth of a child or someone leaving home). An important element of fostering is learning how to embrace those changes. For families who are welcoming a child into their home, this can be a significant adjustment period - so to help ease the transition, here are some tips that can help.
Children and young people are at the heart of fostering - which is why it’s important to involve them in the decision making as far as possible. It may be that your child or children feel apprehensive at the prospect of sharing their home with an unfamiliar child. This is completely natural, but with lots of reassurance and by explaining the process, in an age-appropriate way their questions and thoughts can be talked through. It might also be helpful to encourage them to talk to grandparents or other relatives who are close to them.
By collaborating as a family and planning ahead, you’re helping to create a sense that everyone’s working together. We always involve your children in our preparation visits by chatting with them and providing further information.
The children of foster carers often play a key part in the process, helping the new child or young person to settle into your family. For your own children, it presents a number of benefits and potential challenges which they may need additional support within order to help them make sense of things
Everyone copes with change differently. Some children of Foster Carers adapt with ease -while others might feel less sure. Fostering can also bring additional interruptions to home life such as more visitors (eg. childs) the team who will be working alongside you.
As far as possible, keep to the same routines you have before (with things like bed and mealtimes, clubs and other activities, play dates with friends) – it also helps to ensure that you still protect some 1-1 time for your own children so that they can share their feelings and know that their relationship with you is strong. Often, grandparents and other family members can help with this.
Some children may feel concerned that their personal space might be affected. Just as a child or young person coming to live with you on placement will need their personal space and their own room, you should ensure yours has a space of their own they can retreat to, such as their own room, or (if they share with siblings), they might have a neighbour or friend they can visit. As part of the process, your Social Worker will also want to get to know your own children better so that they can also turn to them for support if needed.
While many children of Foster Carers enjoy helping to care for another child, at times they may also find sharing their parents and family home with another child difficult. Your child might feel as though the child you are fostering is receiving an unequal amount of attention.
A family planner with agreed times, dates and activities can give you all lots of things to look forward to and the opportunity to plan out trips as a family.
Talking to your children about the fostering process can be a wonderful opportunity to help them start to understand more about other children’s experiences and the reasons that they cannot live with their own families at this time. They have a key role in ensuring that the child is settled and feels safe in the family.
Welcoming another child or young person into their home is an important first step in the fostering journey.
Involving your own children in helping the child you are fostering to feel more settled could begin by asking them if they can come up with suggestions for comfort items e.g. (if a young child) a stuffed toy. Putting together a “Welcome Book” to introduce your family to them is a great idea- you can include photos of everyone and a few sentences describing their hobbies/what you like to do as a family. Photos of pets are always appreciated as well as the family home and a personal message to the child to let them know how much you are looking forward to them coming to live with you. This process is a great way of starting to make connections.
Walking Beside the Child
For children who may have already experienced a great deal of disruption in their lives, stability is paramount. When fostering a child, you can help strengthen this by:
This helps to nurture positive relationships through demonstrating reliability and being a positive role model to the children you care for.
Children of Foster Carers may require support to manage the daily challenges of growing up in a foster family. If each of the children in your household gets the support they need, the placement will have a successful outcome and young people will thrive.
Clear, healthy boundaries (around various elements of family life, including which behaviours are acceptable and which are not) can be established alongside your Social Worker as part of a Safer Caring Plan. Having this in place can help your own child to feel more secure and creates an additional level of stability for everyone in the family.
You may already be aware of the kinds of difficulties children and young people in foster care have experienced and the trauma responses that can arise as a result. While you can never be 100% prepared for every eventuality, the training you will receive alongside other foster carers can help you .develop strategies to manage different situations.
You can also speak with your social worker during your monthly supervision meetings about any concerns you may have or sooner (if the issue can’t wait).
The training you undergo as part of your journey towards becoming a foster carer in Care Visions is supported by two “pillars”:
Theraplay®is a child and family focussed mode of therapy which aims to support positive emotional and behavioural responses while nurturing healthy relationships between the child and their primary caregiver.
Many children and young people lack the coping skills required to handle negative emotions and stress. Therapeutic Crisis intervention (TCI) is a model of practice used to help support young people and children in crisis situations. When used by adult carers in family settings, it aims to:
If you are aware an issue is worsening and you need support, don’t ignore it and make sure you always record any relevant information to share with the appropriate safeguarding parties.
More information on how to keep children and young people safe as a foster carer can be found via the Fostering Network - You can also visit our contact page, where you can request an information pack and make enquiries before you take your first steps on your Fostering Journey.
Supporting a looked-after child is a team effort - so you’re never alone. In addition to the team around the child. which includes your own Supervising Social Worker, teachers, health visitors and others, we can support you along every step of your journey with useful advice and guidance.
Additional support can also be found through other foster carers, many of whom you will meet during your preparation training. If you are relatively new to being a carer, you might wish to speak to those who have been carers for a long time, as they have a wealth of useful knowledge to share.
You can also speak with trusted family and friends in case you need someone at short notice (should you become unwell, need to be away at short notice or simply need a couple of hours to yourself).
The goal of fostering a child is to provide a stable, supportive home for them until they can be reunited with their family. It’s important throughout the process to maintain contact with the foster child’s family to help support the process.
It may be that you have some concerns about your foster child’s family - in which case you can report these to your care team - but in general, try to maintain a positive working relationship with them so that you can work together as a team to support the child or young person in your care.
Ending a placement is rarely an easy process, especially when everyone has developed close bonds with each other. But remember to hold onto the fact that Even if it has been for a short time, you will have made a difference in the development and care of a child or young person.
At these times you may have very mixed feelings including being happy that the child has been reunited with their family, but also experience this as a loss for everyone in your own family. Be kind to each other when this happens and be mindful that different people will have different reactions. As always support and advice are available to help you through this period.
Sometimes decisions are made that children cannot return home. In those situations, the child living with you may remain in placement leading to long-term foster care and perhaps permanence.