Challenges foster carers may face

Challenges Foster Carers can Face

We will be the first people to stand and shout from the hilltops just how great Fostering is, both for you as Carers and for the children and young people who are having life changing breakthroughs across the country. However, having said that it is far from easy, the reason people are so fulfilled and satisfied by what they do is because of the amount of hard work, commitment, dedication and resilience it takes.

Managing your expectations is a very important part of preparing to foster. Throughout our enquiry and assessment process our social workers will work with you to fully understand the challenges that go hand in hand with fostering, to help you to make an informed decision as to whether or not this would be a suitable vocation for you, and where applicable your family. Below we discuss what we feel are the main areas of challenge for Foster Carers.
1 – When a child leaves placement

A child leaving your home can be quite a mix of emotions. Its is quite normal and in fact quite right, that’s whilst you have been together that you will have formed an attachment to them. This attachment was a very important part of the support that they received whilst with you. Our role as Foster Carers is not to keep a child (that’s where adoption comes in) but to be everything that the child needs whilst permanent, safe and secure lives are being arranged. Children and young people will move on for various reasons, mostly this will be because they have been able to return to their birth family but could also be that they are moving in with a new adoptive forever family. These kind of transitions are usually planned thoroughly to help everybody involved adjust as smoothly as possible. There are times occasionally however that a placement may end in disruption, this may be as a result of irreparable relationship breakdown between carers and the child or young people in their care or due allegations that have been made. In these cases, emotions can understandably run high and we have set processes and procedures that we all follow. Its important to know that throughout your assessment and ongoing training, we will support you in understanding different ways of preparing yourself for a child moving on from placement, and if you ever find yourself in a situation where this is due to disruption or allegations you will also have access to additional external support and guidance.

2 – The backstory of the children who you may care for

When children and young people are coming into care, sadly it is likely that this is relating to abuse, neglect or family dysfunction. As their Foster Carer you will need to know the whys, when’s and how your child came to be with you. Sometimes this information can be particularly difficult to hear. It is also the case that sometimes once a child has settled and has built up a trusting relationship with you, they may also disclose other historical / ongoing incidents that were previously unknown. Managing your expectations as to the different reasons that children may come into care is an important part of the enquiry and assessment process and is covered in great detail by your assessing social worker. For some people this alone may be enough to cease any application, particularly if there are triggers for the potential carers. There is much support that is in place for our you though, and this includes, a dedicated social worker for support, access to external support that you are able to reach out to as and when needed and training.

3 – Challenging behaviour

Depending on their background and experiences, children and young people in Foster Care may sometimes have challenging behaviours. This is not at all surprising when you consider their previous experiences and the environment that they may have come to you from. In some circumstances, a child may be trauma experienced and need significant support in forming new trusting and positive relationships, and in others it may be the case that they have developed without boundaries or expectations. Whilst not all children will display challenging behaviours it is important that you know that this could be the case. To support you with this, we offer significant levels of training in managing and de escalating challenging behaviour and there is unwavering support from your dedicated social worker who will be working with you. We have out of hours support available too and most importantly, when we are matching referrals to foster homes, known backgrounds and levels of behaviour are taken into consideration and matched accordingly. So, for example, a child who becomes heavily disregulated often, will likely require foster carers that are experienced and therapeutically trained rather than a newly approved Carers.

4 – Administration

Fostering is so much more than parenting, and potential Foster Carers are often surprised at the amount of “administration “work that they need to do. It’s good to have an understanding of this from the get-go so that you have a better idea of what is involved. For any children that you have in your care you will need to complete an online daily journal covering the basics such as time woke up, meals, daily activities and bed time. You will also need to include any additional information for anything ese significant that has happened throughout the day, such as attending family contact. In addition to these journals you will also need to log other important information as it happens such as:

  • Any reported illness and any taken medication (prescribed or not)
  • Any accidents, slips, trips, falls etc and note what if any treatment was given
  • A monthly progress report
  • Any missing episodes (there are also follow up procedures for this)

The online system that we use is very user friendly and of course all training will be provided, but it is important that as this is all completed online that you have access to the internet and are able to competently write in English.

5 – Contact with birth family

Wherever possible, the children in your care will remain in contact with the birth family, this is usually by way of planned and supervised family time in a suitable location. How often this is will depend on the individual circumstances.These family time sessions can cause mixed emotions, some children not wanting to attend at all and some not wanting it to end, wanting to stay with their family. There are also, sadly, times where a child or young person may be disappointed as their family were not able to come or failed to turn up. As their Foster Carer, It can be difficult to see your child or young person upset, however you need to be able to support them through these scenarios with a non-judgemental nurturing manner. The training you receive, along with the support of your social worker will prepare you well for these instances, and you will hopefully be able to build a good relationship with the child’s social worker too, and together you can all work collaboratively to bridge any issues particularly where reunification is the aim.

Supporting foster carers

View our downloads page to get more information

View our Downloads