There are lots of ways that a person can change a future. Fostering a child changes not only their future but yours as well. Helping a child grow up within a supportive and loving home is one of the most rewarding and enriching decisions you'll ever make. Although not always easy, there is nothing more important than providing a child or young person the safe space they need to overcome obstacles and trauma so they can thrive.
Read on below for all the ways that fostering can change a young person’s future.
7 Ways Fostering Can Change a Future
The Value of a Safe Base
There is no single thing more important in a child’s life than having somewhere they can feel completely safe. This is the ultimate goal of fostering - to provide a safe and loving home to a vulnerable young person.
The Secure Base Model
This notion derives from the theory behind the secure base model. The main takeaway? That a healthy relationship is one where a child feels safe. This safety allows them to be independent and explore the world around them, while also understanding that they are able to come back to their primary caregiver for comfort if they need to. It is, therefore, easy to see why foster care is so important in providing that safety.
Any child that comes into your home will be scared, anxious, and wary. They may struggle to trust anything around them for a while and may be resistant to forming a relationship with you, the primary carer. This is all completely normal and expected given the circumstances. It is your role as a foster parent to help them access a secure base and provide security in every aspect of your caring duties. ‘Parenting’ a young person with adverse needs is a whole new world to navigate. There will be challenges, often based on heavy emotions. It is how you decide to respond to these emotions that support their sense of safety.
Your Actions and Emotions
Leading on from this is the impact of your actions and emotions within this framework. A safe base can only be a safe base if the person running the ship learns how to self-regulate, and has insight into helping others do the same. Your actions will always influence the relationship that you are forging and how you behave emotionally is also relevant. A safe base is one where the foster parent is in tune with these theories. This builds attachment and in turn, trust and security.
Therefore, the value of a safe base is invaluable. This is a fundamental part of helping a child move forward and giving them an experience where they are valued, seen, heard, and nurtured. It will empower them in all their future relationships and key decision moments and help them to grow in a healthy way too.
Financial security should never be underestimated. The children are likely to come from a diverse range of backgrounds, some of which will have been dominated by financial hardship. While life is not all about money, for a child, having the basic needs taken care of and a place where money does not guide everything is essential.
Parents and carers who prioritise the financial needs of their children, even when money is scarce, are the ones that teach positive lessons for the future. By doing this for your foster children, you are giving them a boost towards being stable in their own future. They are more likely to be able to manage their personal finances and access opportunities that would have been dismissed before.
Reengagement with Education
It is not uncommon for children coming into the care system to have disengaged from their educational journeys. Turbulent circumstances in their home lives, declines in mental health, and a school that is not aware of the issues are all things that contribute to a lack of ability to engage. While the school will be a point of conflict from time to time (just like it is with any child), as a foster parent, the stage is yours to get them back through the door and advocate where they have no voice. Impact real change in this area by speaking up and making school a place they want to be again.
Take an interest in their education and help them discover where their own interests lie. All of these things are within reach and children who have not had the same advantages in life as others often need a helping hand to realise it.
As mentioned further up, attachment theory and the secure base model are two major concepts in fostering. You will go through many training sessions absorbing these working models, and there are good reasons behind it. The main impact your role will have is to teach and demonstrate positive relationships.
You are in the privileged position of being able to teach a young person what a healthy attachment is, where the more toxic behaviours seep through and how to retain self-identity in friendships and other social dynamics.
- The work you do now during this foster placement could be the difference between that young person entering an abusive, unhealthy relationship or picking a positive partner.
- Relationship modelling enables young people to identify who they are within the scope of a mutual trust sphere. It shows them that trust is a thing within their reach.
- Healthy relationships are ones that embrace conflict resolution, the dark days, and everything in between, as long as they are guided by nurture, understanding, and reciprocal transparency.
It Might Become Permanent
Sometimes, there are circumstances where fostering a child may lead to adoption, with some foster children become permanent family members.
When a foster parent has a positive impact, they change everything for that child. Aside from the safety and security at home, they are a valued member of each other’s team. This counts more than most people realise. You could change a future by becoming an ever-present figure in a child’s life and providing a home forever.
Primarily boosted by the positive effects you can have on a young person’s educational journey, there are also advantages for post-school employment. Children who have been able to discover what they want from life are more likely to engage positively with employment options in the future. Not only this, but they will have an opportunity to learn all about it and how their decisions at certain ages shape their opportunity scope as an adult. There are doors being opened all over and a number of programmes that value looked-after children.
Access to Specialist Support
Fostering allows the child in your care to access whatever support they might need. Where there are special needs such as autism or similar, the young person is able to access therapies, support workers in school, and enter into a therapeutic environment that will nurture everything that they are. This is something they may never have experienced and will change their life. Aside from special needs, there are also advanced behavioural needs, general mental health, trauma backgrounds, neglect, and exposure to alcohol or drugs.
This list is not exhaustive, but these are the core areas of concern that will require bespoke intervention and therapy paths. Access to mental health support for young people is somewhat in jeopardy in this country as things stand. There are limited resources, but that does not detract from their needing to exist. These services are essential to the well-being of the future generation. As a carer, your role is to facilitate this and build positive habits of external self-care.
The importance of a trustworthy team is irreplaceable. Children who enter the care system are less likely to have this in their pocket than those who do not. Having this base as an anchor you can feel secure within is integral to fundamental development. It will embolden their personality and sense of self, which will in turn enable them to take steps toward creating the future they need and want. Not every foster placement has a positive conclusion, but there are thousands and thousands of success stories out there to sift through.
Fostering really does change lives.
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