People sometimes focus on the difficulties and issues that young people face in foster care, but what are the benefits of fostering a child? We take a look at some of the most common benefits foster care might bring:
How good is fostering?
Placing children into a foster home can transform their lives, but they are not the only ones who benefit from the arrangement. Becoming a foster carer is extremely rewarding and for the majority of carers it is a calling rather than a job. Of course there are highs and lows, but the positive for both partners outweigh any negatives.
How the child benefits
Let’s first consider how a child benefits from a foster placement.
Stable and secure environment
For whatever reason, a child in care has been separated from his or her family. They may not be in contact with their friends either, and it is always a stressful situation. By providing stability, the family help the foster child benefit by supporting them through this difficult period. Carers can also give a safe environment that they may not have experienced before. This could provide help with psychological or behavioural issues.
Depending on individual circumstances, a child in care may not have had an opportunity to stay at one school for long periods or they may have experienced difficulties in school. By providing a safe environment and a stable academic situation, children benefit from having less to worry about. This may help them to focus better on school work and eventually improve their academic abilities.
Children in care may have experienced abuse or neglect. They may have been abandoned or have behavioural problems. Their parents could be suffering long term illness or be in prison. Whatever the reason, some of these children will not have benefited from a normal home life before. Foster care offers that opportunity and for some it could be their first experience of it.
Relationship attachments are still strong between children and parents, even when the child has been placed in care. Foster parents offer support and the opportunity to maintain this connection under supervision. Foster Children benefit from controlled contact with their families.
How the carer benefits
It’s not all one-sided. Fostering can be extremely rewarding to the foster parents and the family as a whole.
Helping vulnerable children
Helping others is extremely satisfying. Knowing you are providing a child with a stable environment when he or she needs it most is one of the most positive aspects of fostering. Fostering comes with its own challenges and issues. Being able to offer love and security to young people knowing it could have a huge positive impact, is extremely important to foster carers.
Money should never be the driving force to fostering, but the monetary allowances help provide the child with certain needs. It also makes it possible for you to open up your home and allow the child to benefit from an opportunity that might not otherwise be available.
Training and development
Fostering offers opportunities to expand your skills through training courses. These are aimed at helping you to deliver a high service to young people in your care, but some of these skills will be transferable across other areas of your life. Better foster care is bound to lead to better parenting of your own children for example. Carers and their families benefit from their involvement with fostering.
Developing relationships that can last a lifetime can be a joy to foster parents. It can also be poignant when it comes to saying goodbye, but the pleasure in creating that bond is often seen as a blessing. Foster parents can also benefit greatly from these bonds, and working with different personalities can help you develop as a person.
Sometimes fostering can lead to long term placements, or even adoption. When a strong bond has been made this is the ultimate reward for both carers and young people in care. Many relationships forged through fostering become lifetime benefits through friendship or companionship.
Undoubtedly there are difficulties in fostering, but by concentrating on the benefits it is easy to understand why carers carry on fostering for many years. The satisfaction and pride in helping a young person with difficulties develop into a rounded individual is the ultimate reward for the majority of foster carers.