Being a foster carer means opening the door to children who you are related to biologically; children and young people who can’t live in their own home because they have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse or neglect, are at risk of experiencing one of those forms of harm or cannot live at home for other reasons.
Children have difference needs and require different types of care. The care you provide might be for a few nights, a few months, a few years, or longer.
You might provide emergency care for children or give short breaks to other foster carers. You may have or develop special skills or preferences that will influence the type of care you provide.
You choose the type of care that will suit you, your family and your lifestyle.
Where possible children are reunited with their families as soon as possible. Carers are part of this process and help maintain ongoing relationships between children and their families.
Becoming a carer is serious decision for any family. It is a commitment that should not be made without prior discussion and consideration of the changes and challenges that are part of the experience.
Some of the questions you may like to ask:
- What other stresses are there on our family at the current time?
- Is it a good time to invite new challenges?
- How would we cope with the uncertainty of the duration children would stay in our care?
- How would we cope if a child or young person placed in our home has difficult or out of the ordinary behaviours?
- Can we cope with a child or a young person returning to the care of their parents when we feel they may not provide the same standard of care we have?
- How will our family adjust to the addition of other family members? What changes, compromises or sacrifices will need to be made? Is everyone prepared to make these changes?
- If you are in a relationship: is your relationship strong enough at this time for you and your partner to work as a team and support one another?
- If you are single: have you considered the lifestyle changes and loss of privacy associated with sharing your home with a child or young person?
The rewards of becoming a foster or kinship carer include:
- Helping to keep children and young people safe
- Helping children and young people to reach their full potential
- Helping parents to develop new ways of relating to their children
- Using your skills and life experiences for the benefit of others
- Enhancing your own parenting skills and knowledge
- Being a valued and contributing member of a caring team
- Expanding your social and personal contacts
The challenges include:
- Managing your own children’s feelings about sharing you, their home and their lives
- Responding to children’s behaviours that you may not have previously experienced
- Being able to say goodbye to children when they leave to return to their families
- Feeling confident that children will be safe when they leave your care
- Finding space in your life for yourself when so many demands will made on your time and energy
- Sharing the decision-making for the children placed with you.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer go to the Queensland Government’s campaign website.