Becoming a foster parent
When you become a foster carer, you open your home and your heart to a child who needs somewhere to live and someone to take care of them.
Around 75% of children in care live with foster carers. Thousands of children come into care every year through no fault of their own.
At St Christopher’s we believe every child has the right to a happy childhood, regardless of their past experiences. Children in care do not deserve any less than their peers just because they are in care – and our foster carers play a key role in showing young people that they are just as worthy and important.
There are a number of organisations you can foster with, including your local authority, so it’s important to choose the right fostering agency. With a fostering charity like St Christopher’s, you can be confident that children are at the heart of everything we do. We don’t have stakeholders to please and make profits for, so we can concentrate fully on providing the best care to children and young people.
What is fostering like?
There’s one thing our foster carers always say about fostering – that it’s rewarding. You put effort into getting to know a young person and overcoming challenges, and can really see the results at the end when you see them achieving their dreams.
It’s more than just a job. It’s a vocation, a calling, a way of life.
A young person might find it scary when they first arrive to live in a new house with their new foster carer. It may be their first, second, third, fourth or even fifth move since they came into care, so they might feel apprehensive about trusting adults.
Sometimes young people are reluctant to open up. They don’t want to spend time getting to know new foster carers if they’re going to have to move away again.
As time passes, the young person will start to realise that their foster carer is there to help. They will start to open up and relax, which is when trust starts to build.
Foster carers do all the things that good parents do – helping with homework, supporting them if they are upset, and showing them what life can be like in a happy family. As you spend time with the young person you will build a good relationship and be able to help them even more.
As they grow older, you will teach a young person the life skills they’ll need for living independently. Whether it’s cooking, paying bills or generally looking after themselves, foster carers are there even for the small things.
'I would give it the gold buzzer. I've got people to play with, a nice bedroom, and I like my carers.'
How will fostering affect my family and my birth children?
Choosing to foster affects your whole family. When your extended family are on-board with fostering it makes a massive difference to a young person’s well-being and sense of belonging. They have a whole group of people looking out for and caring for them.
Your children’s impact on fostering cannot be underestimated. Whether they are young and living at home or have already flown the nest, they have an important part to play. They can help a foster child feel at ease – if they see another young person has a good relationship with their carer, then they will recognise that they could have a relationship like that too.
Your children must be aged three or above when you decide to become a foster carer. This is because we want you to focus on your child’s development whilst they are so young before committing to helping others.
At St Christopher’s we include all children in our activities, whether they are fostered or not. We want our young people to grow alongside their peers and have fun together.
Foster carers’ children are celebrated every year through Sons and Daughters Month, a nationwide event that acknowledges the contributions they make to fostering.
'Fostering hasn’t changed my relationship with my children, but it has opened our eyes. When you have your own children you think you’ve seen it all but you really haven’t. It’s a learning experience.'