What to expect
All carers have different experiences depending on the children in their care. In some cases, it will be fairly smooth sailing. In other cases, you may have a more challenging time. It’s unpredictable, but ultimately rewarding.
Foster carers need to be prepared to work with the child's parents, caseworker and foster care agency to maintain contact and prepare for the child’s return home.
Foster carers must also deal with their own feelings about the abuse or neglect the child or young person may have experienced in the care of their parents.
This is a special commitment, as you need to provide secure, loving care and yet be able to let go when the child leaves.
Children and teenagers who come into care often come from families affected by experiences that can impact on their emotional maturity and development.
It can take some time for them to adjust to living with a new family. Sometimes this can be expressed with anger, anxiety or difficult behaviour.
Caseworkers work with carers and children to overcome problems they may experience. This includes providing support and specialist treatment where necessary.
In nearly all cases, children will want to maintain contact with their families during the time they are in foster care.
Research shows that children who do keep in regular contact with their families tend to fare better in foster care than those who, for whatever reason, lose touch. Contact can include letters, phone calls and pre-arranged visits.
It is important that you encourage children in your care to maintain contact with their family and help to make this happen as appropriate to their needs.
“You can’t expect children to come in and love you straight away. You have to be an understanding and patient person.”