Why Should You Consider Becoming a Foster Carer?
However you’ve found your way to this article, whether you’ve been quietly considering foster care for a while, whether you were inspired by an advert or personal referral, or whether you were fostered yourself as a child and know the difference it can make. Whatever the catalyst to start you thinking about foster care, thank you. Every consideration is as meaningful as the next.
What Motivates You
Becoming a foster carer is a big decision. And each of us will feel motivated to become a foster carer for our own reasons. Becoming a foster carer is a life changing decision, for you, for your family and very importantly for the children and young people who you decide to foster. Life changing in every way.
If we had to put forward the most persuasive reason to consider becoming a foster carer it would be simply that there are thousands of children and young people who are, every year, reliant on the Foster Care system. There are 3,624 children and young people in care in Northern Ireland and 83% of these live in foster care (March 2022). This equates to 3,008 children and young people reliant on foster care. These are children and young people whose current life and family circumstances mean that they urgently need to find a safe and stable home. And for whom, the prospect of finding that can make an invaluable difference to their life.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to give back to somebody. To develop and boost them and to ensure they can try and succeed in life.” Laura, foster carer for a young refugee
Reasons to Become a Foster Carer
The difference that foster care can make is bigger than you might realise. Not only will the impact be felt on the lives of the children or young people in your care, but there are huge benefits passed on to the birth parents of children in foster care, to the community at large as well as to yourself and to those who live within your family.
Some of the motivating reasons we frequently hear from our foster carers are:
- I have loved looking after my own children but they are grown up now and I don’t feel that I have finished my parenting journey. I would love to put the joy and energy I have as a parent into positively impacting the life of a child in the Foster Care system.
- I have not had the opportunity to have my own children and I have the time, the attention, and the desire to help a child or young person through what might be a difficult period in their life.
- When I was young, I benefited from the support of a foster family and I’d like the chance to do something equally as positive for a young person.
- I care about the children in my community and I want to offer a child a temporary safe place, a nurturing and consistent space where they feel seen and heard.
- My parents were foster carers to children and young people throughout my youth and I fully recognise the challenge and the benefits to us all. I would like to continue with the work they have done and the contribution they made.
- I know there are a lot of siblings who are in foster care and don’t want to be separated. Even if it is a temporary home, I would like to try and help in keeping them together.
What Foster Care Means to the Community
Research has shown that the benefits of foster care are felt beyond the foster home. Successful foster care placements help to limit homelessness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, mental health issues, poverty, and unemployment. The support they provide, even temporarily to birth parents can allow them the opportunity to get help, become financially stable, move away from abusive situations, and create a safer, more secure home for their children in the future. This in turn takes pressure off front line services, relatives and friends, and has a positive ripple effect throughout the community.
At its core, foster care has a hugely beneficial impact on children and young people. And in helping them to fulfil their potential, personally, academically, and economically, this in turn will pass on extremely positive effects on our community.
“I have always felt very much included in my foster family. There were three of us in foster care, all unrelated. Being in foster care gave me confidence and security and I know that it made me a better person. It made me value my life more.” Evelyn, Belfast
Every Reason is a Good Reason
Ultimately, foster care is unique. Unique to the child, or children involved. Unique to the foster carer and their family. And unique in as far as the wide-reaching positive impact it has on us all. It is a contribution that can hardly be measured and is vital to so many. Whatever your reasons for considering foster care, they are invaluable and we are all grateful.