Knowsley Council’s Fostering Service has launched its Christmas campaign to highlight the urgent need for foster carers in the borough. It aims to dispel some of the common myths surrounding fostering and who can or cannot foster in an attempt to get more people to come forward.
So, take a look at the 12 myths of fostering and make sure none of these are preventing you from considering becoming a foster carer!
1. I’d like to be a foster carer but I’m single
You don’t have to be married to foster. You don’t even have to be in a couple! Single people can and do make great foster carers. Families come in all shapes and sizes and it’s not your marital status that is important but your ability to meet a young person’s needs. We welcome applications from people who are single, living together, married, divorced, or separated.
2. I’d like to be a foster carer but I work
Depending on your circumstances you can sometimes foster and continue to work. There are a lot of people who successfully combine a job with their role as a foster carer, and you shouldn’t let it prevent you from applying to become a foster carer with Knowsley. We have different types of placements to suit you and your lifestyle. Obviously younger children, or some children with additional needs will need someone to be there with them all day, but you could look to foster school-age or older children and combine your work outside of the home with their care.
3. I’d like to be a foster carer but I have my own children living at home
Many people have their own children and foster at the same time. As long as you have a spare bedroom for another child, you can still foster even if your own children are still at home. A lot of foster carers who already have their own children, feel they’ve done a good job raising them and want to give other children a good start in life. You’ll need to think about the difference that fostering will make to your own children and talk to them about it. When people with their own children decide to foster, it becomes a family decision and your children will be invited to share their thoughts and give their input during the assessment process. We will also make sure that any young people that come to live with you are a good match for everyone in your family.
4. I’d like to be a foster carer but I have a disability
As long as you can provide a young person a safe, secure and happy home then your disability should not stand in your way of this. When you apply to become a foster carer with Knowsley Council you will go through an assessment process, which includes a medical check to ensure you do not have any health or disability issues that would prevent you from being able to provide the best standard of care to a young person.
5. I’d like to be a foster carer but I’m gay
You do not have to be heterosexual to foster. Your sexual orientation is not important to us when we are assessing your ability to provide a safe and loving home to a child or young person. Every looked after child is different, so there needs to be diversity among the foster carer community too. It doesn’t matter if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or asexual.
6. I’d like to be a foster carer but I have a dog
Having pets does not prevent you from fostering, in fact they can be an asset to a foster family. However, every animal is different and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer, taking into account factors such as their temperament and behaviour.
7. I’d like to be a foster carer but I don’t own my house
Foster carers do not need to own their own home. Whether you have a mortgage, or are a private or social housing tenant it doesn’t affect your ability to give a young person a safe, secure and loving place to call home. As long as you have a spare bedroom and you can offer a safe and secure loving home environment for a child or young person then you can foster.
8. I’d like to be a foster carer but I don’t have any children of my own
As part of the foster carer assessment we need to know and be comfortable that you have experience of being around young people to understand what will be involved with caring for a child. It doesn’t matter whether you have gained this experience through caring for your own children, through caring for young people in your family or through working with young people as part of your job.
9. I’d like to be a foster carer but I’m a man
Men can be foster carers too. Many men foster, and in Knowsley we have a ‘men in foster care’ support group so that you can meet up with other male carers in the same role. When a man fosters, he is able to present positive male role models for both male and female children and young people which can be beneficial to children who have never had this in their lives.
10. I’d like to be a foster carer but I don’t drive
You don’t need to drive, and many of our foster carers manage by using public transport or have support from other family members who help in this way. If you don’t drive or have access to a car you will need to think about how you will get children to and from school or to any meetings with their birth family.
11. I’d like to be a foster carer but I’m retired, am I too old to foster?
There is no upper age limit for foster carers and a lot of our existing carers are retired. Being healthy, fit and active will enable you to enjoy the challenges of fostering. As part of the application process, you will need a medical check but it won’t be anything too daunting.
12. I’d like to be a foster carer but I don’t have any qualifications
When you apply to foster there are no particular ‘qualifications’ that you will need – just the ability to care for a child and some experience in looking after or working with children. As part of the fostering approval process you will be given training and the opportunity to gain relevant qualifications which will assist you in your fostering role.
If you’ve been thinking about becoming a foster carer, why not make 2017 the year you take the first step and find out more?
The approval process is quicker than you think, and by next Christmas you could be sharing your home with children who really need you.
Make it your New Year’s resolution and we will support you every step of the way. Knowsley’s fostering team will help you with advice and information at every stage and you will receive support and training to assist you in your new role. You will also receive a generous allowance.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer and want to know more we would love to talk to you, you can get in touch by contacting Knowsley’s Fostering Service on 0151 443 3958 or visit www.knowsley.gov.uk/fostering.