In October this year, we wanted people to tell us the reasons they have been discouraged from becoming a foster carer. We particularly wanted to hear from those who had considered the idea, and then decided against it, so we made a quiz, and invited our followers to participate and share it. We had a great engagement rate, with 577 people participating. Here are the results:

 

 

The option with the highest response was from people who did not have enough space in their home (19%). In NSW most Agencies require carers to be able to provide a separate bedroom for each foster child placed into their care. Clearly this is a barrier to many people who may otherwise seriously consider opening their home to a vulnerable child.

The next three largest responses were “other” (13.3%) that we discuss below; that people were worried about involvement with the child’s birth family (12.5%); or were concerned about becoming attached to a child and then having to “give them back” (12.8%). This last one is a common response, and one that foster carers often find frustrating. The implication seems to be that foster carers are therefore ‘heartless’ because they are willing to give kids back. Is this true?

No! Rather, carers can see the bigger picture, which is that it is in the best interests of any child (wherever safe & possible) to live with their birth family. Sometimes families just need time out and support to get their lives in order, and then these birth parents are able to take up the role of parenting again & do it well. If as a foster carer you can offer love and security to a child as they go through this scary and confusing time, what is a bit of a broken heart as an adult in comparison?

If you can offer love and security to a child as they go through this scary and confusing time, what is a bit of a broken heart as an adult in comparison?

The 73 “other” responses were also really interesting. Respondents were able to type in their own reasons, and they ranged from disillusionment with the system as a whole, to misunderstandings about the requirements to become a carer (e.g. thinking being single, over 50 or renting excluded them), through to concerns about the financial implications, such as needing to reduce work hours or stop working entirely for a period. Some people also spoke about their biological kids, and needing to wait until they are older, or being concerned about the potential emotional impact upon them.

Other respondents spoke about being concerned they personally were not up to the task, mentally or health-wise, or patient enough. We would encourage anyone who is unsure about their suitability to have a look around our website and learn about the comprehensive training and support carers receive, the different types of care-giving available that can fit with any schedule, or the financial support carers receive, & to hear from current carers.

If you think you’re ready to find out more, or take the first steps to becoming a carer, watch this video & then send us an online enquiry, and we can get the ball rolling for your foster care journey!


Across Australia, and all around the world, Governments and organisations struggle to find enough mature, appropriate adults willing to take on foster care. We don’t know of anywhere where there are always enough loving homes for kids in need. There are Government call outs, clever marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements and awareness-raising drives. These may increase enquiries for a while, but they never generate enough actual new foster carers to fill the need.

There is an ongoing search to find the “magic bullet” that will bring in enough people to fill the huge need for safe, secure homes for society’s vulnerable children. Because who doesn’t want to help out kids, right? Perhaps this magic bullet does not exist, and clearly it is not that simple. There are a variety of reasons why people do not want, or do not feel able, to open their hearts and homes to become a foster carer.

There are a wide variety of reasons why people do not want, or do not feel able, to open their hearts and homes to become a foster carer

We would love to hear from people who have considered, and then rejected the idea of becoming a carer. If this is you, please take our quiz below. You can click multiple answers, or write your own reason in the “other” section.

If this is not you, do you know someone who may be able to give us an insight into why they said no to foster care? Can you share this quiz with them?


UPDATED: 30 October, 2017

How much do you know about personality types? Do you like to find out which categories you fall into? If you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer, or you already are one, it may well be that you fall into the personality type categorised as a ‘Pioneer’ according to research into ‘Why Foster Carers Care’ conducted by the UK’s Fostering Network.

This research found that an amazing 73% of foster carers displayed character traits that put them into the ‘Pioneer’ category against an average of just 42% of the general population. But what does this mean?

An amazing 73% of foster carers displayed character traits that put them into the ‘Pioneer’ category against an average of just 42% of the general population!

‘Pioneers’ share a set of common values which make them much more likely to become foster carers than people characterised as ‘Prospectors’ or ‘Settlers’, the other two main personality types identified in the study[i]. None of these types of personality are “better” than the others. They simply describe what individuals are like, and give an indication of the types of activities they might feel comfortable to undertake.

If you have a strong desire for fairness, justice and equality, are concerned about the environment and society, are reasonably self-assured, open to change and feel that whatever life throws at you you will manage, then chances are you are a ‘Pioneer’! ‘Pioneers’ also like to understand the big picture, and feel like they are working towards making things better.

Other research[ii] by eminent Professor of Social Welfare, Jill Duerr-Berrick, describes high-quality care-givers as typically being flexible, teachable, members of a team, loving, interested in strengthening a family, and up for a challenge. All of these attributes are consistent with (but not exclusive to) the characteristics of the ‘Pioneer’ personality type.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? You don’t have to be a ‘Pioneer’ to become a foster carer, but if you identify with some of the character traits above, maybe it’s time to give us a call and find out how you can make a difference in a child or young person’s life!

Take this special Fostering NSW version of the Pioneers, Prospectors & Settlers Quiz to find out which category best describes you!


We have had a great response to this Quiz, and have received preliminary results from Cultural Dynamics, who developed & run the quiz. It will remain open  till the end of December, but we have results from the original participants, and they are consistent with Dr Duerr-Berrick’s findings:

 

 

87%, or the vast majority, of people who took the quiz with us were ‘Pioneers’, while 11% of participants were ‘Prospectors’, and only 2.5% were ‘Settlers’. Have a look at the way Cultural Dynamics describes & breaks down the three personality types. In contrast with this, the three personality types are more or less evenly spread across society generally. That our participants were wildly skewed to the ‘Pioneer’ personality type is hardly surprising.

Our followers are largely people who are already foster carers, or those who are seriously considering it. Most foster carers share a common set of values, and they are markedly different from those of the wider population. These values are characterised by the confidence and need to help in the local community. Foster carers are principally motivated by an intrinsic desire to ‘do the right thing’ and to contribute to improving society. That is not to say that the other personality types do not care about these values, but rather they act in different ways, according to the other things valued more highly, such as personal safety & security, or the esteem of others.

If you haven’t yet, why not take the quiz, and see which personality type you fit into?

 

[i] The research uses the ‘Values Mode’ system of evaluation developed by Cultural Dynamics Strategy & Marketing and based on Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
[ii] Berrick, J. D., Shauffer, C., & Rodriguez, J. (2011). Recruiting for excellence in foster care: Marrying child welfare research with brand marketing strategies. Journal of Public Child Welfare. 5(2)