Any child who cannot be cared for by their own family.
Foster care provides children with a safe, stable, loving home at a time when their own family are unable to. Sometimes children need fostering because their parents have asked for help from the Local Authority to look after them for a short period of time whilst they try and sort out a crisis in their life. This crisis could be due to ill-health, drug or alcohol misuse or just families unable to cope. Unfortunately, more often than not children need fostering because it is believed they have suffered abuse or neglect and the courts have ordered for the child or children to be removed from their family home as they could be at risk.
When the decision is made for a child to become looked after the Local Authority shares parental responsibility with their parents. Some children may only be in foster care for a short period of time, this could be for a few months or longer to enable their families to get back on their feet. Unfortunately, for some children, their families’ difficulties are so serious they are unable to return home. It is then the responsibility of the Local Authority to find a permanent home for these children. In some cases, this will be through adoption, but for some children, especially the older children or those who continue to have regular contact with their relatives, a long term foster family would be the best option for the children.
We need foster carers for children of all ages. Children have different needs at different ages. The support you give a teenager will be different from what you offer a younger child. You’ll need to be prepared to spend time with each child to understand their needs and how you can help them settle into your home life.
Around two-thirds of our looked after children are aged 11 to 18 years. At the moment it’s difficult to find foster carers, and it’s even more difficult to find foster carers who are able to foster teenagers.
Jackie (54), from Yate, has been a foster carer with South Gloucestershire Council since 2010. Over the last 8 years Jackie has cared for 18 children on a respite and short term basis and currently fosters a teenage girl.
Jackie said: “My family and I have been fostering with South Gloucestershire Council for the past eight years. I am currently approved to foster children from the age of 0 to 18. Fostering has been in our extended family as long as I can remember. The idea of fostering for us came about from discussions amongst all of the family. Realising that we had suitable space in our home it was something we were passionate about. We believed we had the skills required to be successful in fostering and we’d seen so many positives in the fostered children within our family.
“So now my family and I find ourselves eight years down the line, having had many varied placements (mostly teenagers), fostering has fulfilled all of our expectations and much more. The positives have outweighed any challenges presented. The training offered has been invaluable.
“The necessary set of skills needed to be a foster carer include consistency, patience, the ability to listen, a caring nature, ability to set and stick to boundaries, approachability and availability. And you also need to be committed.
“To give just a little can mean so much and can make all the difference. I hope you will be inspired to seriously consider fostering for South Gloucestershire.”
Interested in finding out more?
If you think you could welcome a child into your home we would be keen to hear from you. Join us at one of our Fostering Information Sessions. Or if you would like further information, please fill in our Online Enquiry Form, call the Fostering Team on 01454 866423 or email firstname.lastname@example.org