Sadly, many children and young people have been placed into care for reasons beyond their control. Every child’s journey is unique in leading them to where they are now, whether they’ve suffered abuse, neglect, or difficult home life. Whatever the reason, these children are in need of a caring and secure home, a home that you, as a foster carer, can provide.
If you want to help and be the person to change a child’s life and you’ve been wondering when is the right time to foster, then read on.
We understand that there are so many factors involved when deciding if now is the right time to foster. You might have a full-time job, children of your own at home, or, you might be wondering if you’re too old to be a foster carer.
The unfortunate reality is, every year, thousands of vulnerable children are coming into care needing loving and secure homes. For them, the right time is always now.
We know that making the choice to become a foster parent can seem daunting. After all, there is the fostering process to go through, including home visits, assessments, training, and a fostering panel, but if you are passionate about making a positive difference to a child who needs a fresh start, then the right time to foster is right now.
The ‘perfect time’ might not ever come around, and you might be wary of the requirements to foster, but these are really very simple.
The requirement to foster in Scotland includes:
- You must be over 21 years old.
- You must have a spare bedroom large enough to fit a single bed, wardrobe, and desk.
- You must have the legal right to work in the UK.
- You must be passionate about making a life-changing difference for the children in your care.
Many people think you need to have qualifications or experience in childcare to foster, or you need to be married or part of a couple. This isn’t the case at all. All you need is patience, energy, resilience, and commitment and you don’t need experience of children as we’ll give you all the training and support you need.
There is no ‘ideal’ person when it comes to being a foster carer. Age, gender, relationship status, family, sexual orientation, religion, background, it doesn’t matter. If you have the care, commitment, and skills to look after a child in need and meet the requirements above, we would love to hear from you.
Another question we’re often asked is “am I too old to foster?” And the simple answer is no!
We have many foster carers looking after children well into their seventies, and many who have retired and are looking for a new challenge to bring fulfillment into their lives.
There is no maximum age for fostering, and we welcome applications from older people. During your assessment, you’ll be asked to have a medical examination with your GP, and this is something that is required for all foster carers, regardless of their age.
As long as you have the energy to keep up with the demands and needs of children, and enjoy being around them, then fostering is a rewarding and wonderful way to enjoy your older years (and keep you on your toes!)
Something we hear a lot from prospective carers is can you be a foster carer and work?
Like a lot of things, there really isn’t a simple answer for this, as it depends on a lot of different aspects. Fostering itself can be a 24/7 career, one that pays well and takes up your time. When you’re a foster carer, you are responsible for your child’s safety and wellbeing. And that isn’t a part-time role.
If your child in care is poorly, you’ll need to look after them, if they’re in school and have a parent’s evening, you’ll need to attend. When it’s the school holidays, they’ll need to be at home. You will also need to be available for meetings and training regarding your fostering career.
As fostering is considered a career, it’s likely that working outside the home might not be necessary.
Some foster carers find it’s easier to reduce their hours to part-time, or even give up work completely. But there are occasions where it is possible to continue working, for example, if you’re fostering older children or teenagers who go to school and are settled in your home.
If you do currently work, you might want to take into consideration things like:
- How flexible your employer is.
- How many hours you currently work.
- Whether you foster as a single carer or with a partner, and if you can come up with a plan that suits everyone.
- If you have friends and family who can help you if you need childcare in a pinch.
- The ages of the children you want to foster. Younger children will need more time and attention whereas teenagers and older children can be more independent.
- If you are willing to foster a child with special needs who might require more care and attention.
- What type of fostering you are interested in, whether it’s short or long-term, respite fostering, emergency fostering, sibling fostering, etc.
The bottom line is there are times fostering and working can be achieved, but only if the child’s wellbeing and safety aren’t compromised. Having another job shouldn’t detract you from your ability to carry out your fostering role; your foster child’s needs must always come first.
Fostering as a couple allows for more flexibility than fostering as a single carer. One parent may be able to work outside the home while the other is on hand full-time to care for your foster child.
Our generous fostering allowance for each child in your care is designed to financially support you through your career as a foster carer. This allowance, along with other benefits and rewards you’ll receive will allow you to stay at home and focus on the needs of the child in your care.
Because we understand that everyone is different, we’ll always take the time to speak to you about working and fostering, so we can help you come to a decision that best suits your needs.
So, what about time off?
Unfortunately, Parental leave does not cover leave for foster parents, however, flexible working is an appropriate way to manage time off for foster carers. Employees with at least 26 weeks of continuous service have the right to request flexible working, and under the Employment Rights Act 1996, all employees (regardless of the length of service) can take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off work without notice to deal with unexpected emergencies affecting their dependents. This includes children in care.
If you decide that now is the right time to foster, and you’re currently employed, then we can help support you in speaking with your employer about time off.
You’ll never be alone
Fostering isn’t always the easiest job, but it is one of the most rewarding. You are changing the life of a vulnerable child or young person, and the feeling you’ll get from it is like nothing you’ve ever experienced.
At FCA Scotland we recognise the hard work and dedication our foster carers put in, and we are by their side every step of the way. From 24/7 support, a team of specialists on-hand whenever you need help or just a friendly ear, and a plethora of benefits and rewards alongside your generous fostering allowance, we’re here to guide, support and reward you.
No matter where you are in life, if you meet the fostering requirements and want to make a difference in a vulnerable child’s life, then there is no better time to start the fostering process.
If you want to know more then you can chat with one of our friendly and dedicated team about the process.