There are 53, 420 children in foster care in Britain. Many of whom, unfortunately, do not have the support that they need. Could you do an act of good and give this support to them?
There are 428,000 children in foster care in the United States. In Britain, that number is around 53, 420 children. For many, they will never find a permanent home and will be moved around the foster system for most of their lives.
Particularly as there are not enough foster families as there are children, as though they are constantly being recruited the number of foster parents is never enough to match the number of children who need them. But, what can be done about this issue?
Perhaps the best way to increase the number of foster parents in, both the UK and USA, is to eradicate the biggest myths that surround fostering. After all, which of these are putting you off this worthwhile vocation? It is one of the biggest acts of good that it is possible to do in this world.
Have you ever watched The Fosters on Freeform? It deals with the trials and tribulations of Stef, Lena and their family of biological, adopted and fostered children. In this program, it shows the troubles that the family face when they take in a troubled foster child. The show of course moves to overcome these issues, but it still shows the foster child in a troubled light. It is media like this which propagates the idea that all foster children are troubled or will act out in major ways.
It is these types of myths which put people off from fostering, causing many children to have trouble finding placements. Even when they are not in the least bit troubled, simply coming from a home that is not suitable or safe for them.
For most, there is a prevailing idea which makes fostering seem like an impossible path for them: they are not part of their own nuclear family. This could mean they are single, LGBT or maybe have never had children of their own. This isn’t the case whatsoever.
Most people are under the impression that to foster you have to offer the perfect home.
But, the requirements are much less discriminatory. For the most part, they include being over 21 years-old, having a spare bedroom big enough for a young person to live in and must be a full-time resident in the country. You must also be able to give care to a child, often on a full-time basis (though older children’s school schedules may allow you to work around your current job).
The fact is that almost everyone could foster if they wished to. It is a simple process of applying to discover your eligibility, as if you can tick the few requirements above then you will more than likely be accepted as a foster carer.
Negative Affect on Your Own Children
This is a big thing which prevents many people from fostering; the fear of what effect it will have on their own children. In researching this particular aspect of my article, I was lucky enough to gain the insight and opinion of a young woman whose parents were foster carers throughout her childhood (and still are today).
Georgia had this to say about her experience (via Lorimer Fostering, the agency that Georgia’s family foster’s through):
“My initial thoughts about my parents fostering were mixed as I didn’t know very much about it, however, I did not dislike the idea. Now, I think foster carers are massively unrecognised for the incredible job they do with children from some very unfortunate backgrounds.
Difficulties aside, the foster children are like added members of the family. More company, more people to make memories with, more people to see develop in the family home into happy and healthy adults.
Keep an open mind and remember to communicate. Your parents are trying to do the best they can for the children in care, as well as by you. As an adult, living at home still, I consider the girls a part of the family and couldn’t imagine life without them.”
In speaking with her, not all of her memories were happy - in particular, she remembered being very sad when some children had to leave - but, overall the experience has been a positive one throughout her life.
It’s Not a Career
When it comes to money, the responsibility of declaring taxes on incomes falls solely on the foster carer’s shoulders. So, what then makes foster care any different from being a freelance writer rather than one that sits in an office all day? Though opinion is quickly changing, there is still a strong contingent of people who disregard fostering as a proper career path.
But, given the hard work, dedication and love that goes into caring for these children, why isn’t it a career? For many carers, this is simply what they do and they do it for the love, not the recognition. Yet, if it was universally recognised as a career then no doubt more people would be willing and eager to foster in the long run.
Overall, there are a lot of myths when it comes to the world of fostering. Many of which have had quite a negative impact on this as a career path for people across the world.
Take the time to research, ask questions and form your own opinions. Only this way can you work out if fostering is indeed all it is painted to be, or whether it could be a worthwhile vocation for you to pursue in order to give something back to your community.