How can we solve the foster care crisis?

A report released in early 2016 revealed that a further 9,070 foster families were needed in the UK to fill the gap in an overstretched foster care system. Following a rise in the number of children going in to care, and no provisions being made for those leaving the fostering workforce, the shortfall is one that needs to be addressed.

Foster caring tends to strike a negative vibe with many people, mainly because people don’t fully understand the process. The popular stereotype from TV and film doesn’t help with the perception and can actually make it more difficult to recruit foster carers. This is unfortunate when we consider that the reality of fostering is far removed from what is shown in any TV show.

So, what can be done to solve the foster crisis? For starters, we need to open up the dialogue about what it means to open your home to another person and raise a child that isn’t your own. What many people fail to understand is that fostering is as much a career choice as anything else.

By highlighting the potential for career development, we might go some way to recruiting a few more potential foster carers who are looking for an alternative career path. For mums returning to the workforce, fostering offers an opportunity to earn extra money while still being able to keep up with their home commitments.

Once we start to see fostering as a career choice, we can start to sell the numerous benefits that go with this particular job title. First and foremost, it’s extremely rewarding to see a child’s life positively progress due to a direct impact of your hard work. You have the opportunity to shape a child’s life in immeasurable ways and become a role model. Not only this, but you are solely responsible for boosting the confidence of a young person on a daily basis.

For many children in the foster care system, having been neglected and often abused at some point in their life, its more than likely that they will be struggling with a lack of confidence and won’t have any consistent role models in their life. Many children struggle to find the opportunity to rebuild their self-esteem. Fostering can provide the essential support that a child needs to boost their self-esteem.

How many people can say that their career has an actual impact on another person’s life, other than making their boss richer and richer? With fostering, you have the opportunity to shape a young person’s life and provide lasting effects for a young person in care. People learn essential social skills at a very young age and continue to develop these throughout their life.

The simple act of being there to help a young person learn essential life skills will have a lasting impact on their life. Not to mention the impact you can have on their education. When a child’s life is disrupted, education is often the first thing to suffer. In terms of a career choice, the foster carer is at any one time a teacher, therapist, life coach, chef, cheerleader and chauffer to a young person in need.

And it’s a common misconception that you can’t have a career and be a foster carer at the same time. With a little planning and a sympathetic boss, there’s no reason professionals can’t be foster carers alongside their day job. The rise of flexible working should make this a far more prevalent arrangement. While many fostering agencies prefer the primary carer to be at home all the time, this is becoming a more and more relaxed rule, particularly if workers have a flexible working agreement in place.

Interested in Fostering?

Without doubt, you’ll likely have to deal with mammoth challenges while fostering, but whilst there are many reasons why you would want to make such a big change to a young person’s life, taking up fostering is not to be taken lightly.

There is currently a shortage in foster carers in the UK. If you are curious to know if you would be eligible to be a foster carer, you can either enquire with your local authority or approach a private fostering agency. The process is quite similar regardless of the route you take.

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