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!