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When Mums and Dads decide that they would like to foster children, they are making an important decision not only for them but for your whole family. Not only will they become foster parents, but you will also become a foster brother or foster sister, which will make your family a foster family.
Being a foster family is a very important job and will mean some changes for all the family. That’s exactly why it is so important that you have the opportunity to think about these changes, to ask questions, and to share any worries you may have with them and the social worker from the fostering organisation they are talking to.
Family Fostering Partners looks after foster families and helps them do the very best that they can in looking after those children who cannot live with their own families. We are not only there to help your Mum or Dad. A very important part of our job is helping you to feel comfortable and informed about being a foster family. To help you think about fostering and what it could be like to live with foster children we have come up with a list of questions that were are often asked. We asked children, like you, what would they like to know about becoming a fostering family?
To begin with, sharing your home and sharing your Mum or Dad with another may be a bit strange. Many birth children (this means you!) find it exciting because foster children can be an extra friend or playmate, but it can sometimes take time to get to know a new member of the family.
Foster children are all different and can be various ages and come from different backgrounds. Sometimes your family may decide to look after more than one foster child, for instance they may look after a brother and sister. When a foster child needs a new home Family Fostering Partner’s placement team will call your parent/s and talk through what that child needs from a foster family. Your parent’s will then tell you about the child so you can talk about it as a family.
Don’t forget that the foster child who stays with you might be shy or scared about being in a strange place, and you can help by teaching them the important rules in your home and telling them about the fun things that your family likes doing together and helping them get involved.
Foster children often need their foster brothers and sisters to be very patient and kind to them – especially when they first move to live at your house. Supporting them in this way is every bit as important as the job that your parents will do in keeping them safe.
When foster child first moves to stay with you your Mum and Dad will have a lot to learn about being foster parents and it might feel as though they have less time for you. If this happens (and often it doesn’t!) it will only be for a very short time until your family gets used to fostering and things get back to normal.
Foster children may have hobbies or interests like sports, cookery, dancing, cadets or simply going to the cinema with friends like you do. Your Mum and Dad will make sure that they share their time with you and also find time to support the interest and needs of the new member of the family too.
All of us need a special place in our homes where we can spend quiet and private time without being disturbed, and for many children and young people, their bedrooms are this special place.
You will never have to share your bedroom with a foster child.
When foster children live with you they will always have their own bedroom and this is important because they will also need a private and quiet space.
Your toys and your special items will be important to you and you have a right to expect that foster children who live in your home ask your permission before using or playing with them. At the same time it will be important that you always to ask permission before using a foster child’s belongings. That way we all understand the rules and we learn to respect each other.
Not all children may be as lucky as you have been to be given precious items to keep, and some may not understand that it is wrong to touch or take things that do not belong to them. When foster children first live in your house you may have to be patient and kind as they learn the rules.
The world is a much happier place when we are all kind and considerate to each other and it is important that if anyone – including foster children are unkind to you that you tell your Mum or Dad immediately so that they can help to sort it out.
It is important to know that you can also talk to a Social Worker, whose job is to listen and help your family.
Family Fostering Partners has nice social workers who help foster families do the best job possible for the foster children that they look after. Your family will have their own Family Fostering Partners social worker who will visit your home regularly to make sure that things are going well. Most of the time these social workers will be spending time speaking with your Mum or Dad – but sometimes they will want to speak with you. This is nothing to be scared about. They will just want to find out how you feel about fostering and whether you have any questions that you would like to ask.
Family Fostering Partners also organise fun events for foster children and for birth children and you will be asked if you would like to take part in some of these activities – including exciting weekends away for birth children. If you would prefer not to take part in activities this is fine – but if you are brave and give it a try to may really enjoy!
There are a few foster children who ask if they can bring their pet, like a hamster or goldfish, but this doesn’t happen very often.
Remember, if you have any questions or worries just speak to your Mum and Dad or the social worker – no one will be cross or upset with you and no one wants an unhappy birth child.
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