I have been very seriously considering applying to become a foster carer for various reasons. I'd just like to hear the experiences of those who already foster?
We also have a few questions regarding the whole process, but don't want to waste a social workers time if we can avoid it as we know how busy they are.
How much input do you have into the type/age/background of the children you foster? My partner is concerned about the fact that some children come from violent/drug backgrounds, and is worried that their parents may "just turn up" at our house? He is worried about exposing our daughter to that kind of environment and possibly putting her in danger?
Hi, I have been a foster carer for just over 3 years. At our training and subsequent meetings/interviews with sws we had to consider quite carefully what kind of placements we would take, what age children we would take, what kind of backgrounds they had come from (e.g would we look after a child who had been physically or sexually abused etc). We discussed this at length between ourselves and also with the social worker. However, its not quite that straightforward. We have found in the past that sws are not always 100% honest about the childs past. This is not always intentional, sometimes they don't have all the information themselves. For example we had a child placed with us as an emergency one Friday evening. Until this the family had never come into contact with sws and there was little known about them by any relevant authorities. It took some weeks to piece together exactly what had been happening in the home. I also know a family who had a foster child who sexually abused one of their children. Sws removed the foster child that day but did not tell the new foster parents why the child had been removed, they made out that the child was basically just displaying difficult behaviour which the first family couldn't cope with. Something else to be aware of is that it can take a long time for children to disclose things that have happened to them. A child we had recently had been taken into care several years ago along with her siblings due to neglect. She had been in care over a year when she revealed that she had been sexually abused while at home.
You are entitled to know as much about the child as possible but just be aware that for various reasons this does not always happen.
For me the worst part of being a foster carer is the alligations against you that may happen. This is very common and leaves the foster carers in a no win situation.
All have to taken seriously (understandably), however minor, even if the SW believe them not to be true. I don't just mean the alligations the foster child may make against you or your own children, but also ones that the foster child's family may make against you too. I am not necessarily talking major things like abuse or neglect, but can also be the most minor of things that are hardly worth a mention (my foster carer doesn't give me pudding, or they wouldn't buy me new shoes when I needed them - when of course there could be a valid reason for no pudding, and they already had several pairs of new shoes). These minor things can be built out of proportion by the children and/or their birth families - even sometimes by other foster carers who may believe the tall stories a child placed with them for respite may divulge.
Unfortunately I have found that some foster children know very well that if they make an alligation they will be the centre of the SW's attention for a while, may please and be praised by their birth families by saying something against their carers or the birth families belief that if they discredit the foster carers in some way their child will be returned home. It is, of course, a very difficult situation with a thin dividing line. However, if a foster carer has children of their own, it can be extremely scary to find that your parenting towards your own children may be examined and/or investigated too.
Just for me it's the worst part and talking to many other more experienced carers it seems almost all have faced the problem at some point.
Can i ask a question, do you have to be able to provide a spare room? I know that possibly sounds silly but say if you were only to do emergency placements say, and you were able to give the child a zbed in the living room?
Dont worry about wasting SW time, they will be very happy to speak to you about fostering and any concerns you may have. All LAs are different so there will be different rules and things change quickly so it's best to find out officially.