Fostering has been in the news a lot recently. You’ve possibly seen recent stories talking about the ‘cost’ of placing children with independent fostering agencies being wildly more expensive than if the child is placed with in-house local authority carers.
It seems that all independent fostering agencies are being tarred with the same brush. Unfortunately labelled as organisations that make huge profits from the misery of children.
As an independent not-for-profit fostering agency, we’d like to share our view. The Foster Care Co-operative is unique in the UK due to its co-operative status. We give staff, carers and children a voice in the organisation. How it works and the support we provide. And, we are a member of the Fairer Fostering Partnership, a group that brings together ethical, not-for-profit fostering organisations and whose ethos is to support those who foster for the sake of the children rather than for profit. We operate simply to run our fostering service. So, any surplus income is reinvested to provide more support and training for our carers and to help them to look after the children in their care. We are a transparent, honest and fully child focused fostering agency.
Helping Dispel Misconceptions About Fostering Children
From our own approach to foster care, we thought it would be helpful to address some of the myths about being a foster carer. Some myths relate to the perceived barriers to fostering children, but there are also myths about foster care in general. We hope that our myths versus facts will help to dispel any general misconceptions you may have.
Myth #1: I need qualifications to foster.
Fact: You don’t actually require any qualifications. We provide full training called ‘Skills to Foster’ for all new foster carers. This training takes place part the way through your assessment to become a foster carer. Then, if you are approved to foster children, you will have the opportunity to undertake further training to widen your skill set.
Myth #2: I can’t foster as a single person.
Fact: Yes you can. You can be married, single, living together with a partner, in a civil partnership or divorced.
Myth #3: I have to own my own house to foster.
Fact: You can rent or own a house – just as long as your home is safe, welcoming and comfortable.
Balancing Family Life & Work?
Myth #4: I can’t foster as I have a regular job.
Fact: You can foster and work. But a certain amount of flexibility is helpful as you may have to do school or nursery drop-off and pick up for example.
Myth #5: The Foster Care Co-operative is Not-For-Profit, so I will not get paid to be a foster carer.
Fact: Like any other foster care agency, we pay our carers a “professional carer fee”. However, any surplus income that our agency makes, after all carer fees and agency expenses are covered, is ploughed straight back into providing more support and training for our carers.
Myth #6: I have my own children, so I can’t foster.
Fact: Many carers have their own children. We work with you to carefully match a foster child to your household. Also, having your own children gives you valuable childcare experience that can be useful when a child is placed with you. Your children will need to be part of your decision to become a foster carer.
Myth #7: I heard that LGBTQ+ people can’t foster.
Fact: anyone can potentially become a carer, regardless of sexual orientation. We believe that fostering should be inclusive and diverse.
What about age or experience?
Myth #8: I need childcare experience to foster.
Fact: Although experience of caring for children may be beneficial, we provide a full training programme called ‘Skills to Foster’ to help every potential carer. Remember, you may have more experience than you know too – for example looking after or interacting with a friend’s child!
Myth #9: I’m 60, I’m too old to foster!
Fact: Age is just a number! A health assessment, is required for all potential foster carers as part of the application process. This will help determine if you are physically able to foster.
Myth #10: I can’t foster children with different religious beliefs to my own.
Fact: Differing religious beliefs should not be a barrier. You will need to respect a child’s beliefs if they are different to yours. The most important thing as a foster carer is providing a safe and caring home environment.
Myth #11: All independent fostering agencies profit from foster care.
Fact: Some agencies do profit from foster care. But there are also a number of charity and not-for-profit agencies that constantly reinvest and don’t make a commercial profit – including The Foster Care Co-operative!
Myth #12: It’s more expensive to place a child with an independent agency than within a local authority.
Fact: Some independent agencies charge more than others. The cost to place a child has to include the running costs (overheads) of the organisation such as staffing, insurance and premises costs. Local authorities still have to pay these overheads, but when cost comparisons are made, they aren’t included – making the cost to place children with local authority carers seem a lot cheaper.
Myth #13: I think I am too young to foster.
Fact: You can actually apply to be a foster carer from the age of 21 🙂
Myth #14: I can’t foster because I have pets.
Fact: A lot of children benefit from the unconditional love of a pet. So other than any known allergies or fears, pets in the household can be a good thing!
Everyone has different skills that they can bring to the table!
Myth #15: I can’t foster as I have a disability.
Fact: As long as you are able to care for a child, a disability should not preclude you from fostering. It is best to have a chat with the agency to explore options. The Foster Care Co-operative is currently participating in some research aimed at breaking down possible barriers that may stop disabled people from considering or becoming foster carers.
Myth #16: I can’t foster as I live in a flat.
Fact: The type of building you live in is irrelevant. As long as you have a spare bedroom and the flat is generally suitable for a child, living in a flat will not be a barrier to fostering.
We hope that this has helped provide a perspective in many areas concerned with fostering children. You can talk to us about any of the above myths and facts by calling our office 01684 892380, or you can contact us and book a time to chat with one of our knowledgeable social workers using our contact us form here.
If you are interested in fostering, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You’ll be able to see what events we are participating in that are local to you. Please pop along for a chat in person or get in touch to request one of our application packs with no commitment.