Finding a middle ground between ‘professional’ and ‘traditional’ foster care is important.
As Fostering can be challenging, it is also a rewarding and amazing experience to give children a safe and stable family life. It allows children to have endless opportunites and create happy childhood memories.
However, fostering can be perceived in different ways. For some, fostering is seen as a career as many give up professional roles to become a foster carer and utilize their skills and knowledge in fostering. Children with challenging behavior can result in them being placed in residential homes. However due to peoples experience and qualifications, they can prevent children from going into residential care and instead allow them to be placed with them in their family home. These carers give up their professional roles, to become foster carers who can care for children with challenging behavior where they will use their professional experience to utilize in fostering. As a result, children with complex or enhanced needs require more support and therefore more financial support, hence why some carers perceive fostering as a full time career.
Nevertheless, this does not reflect the position of all foster carers, as others percieve fostering as a way of offering children the opportunity to be full members of their family. This would mainly relate to long-term placements. It allows children to grow up in a family environment where they are safe and have the opportunity to develop educationally, physically and independently.
Reasons as to why people become foster carers completely varies. As previously stated, it could be someone who wants to utilize their skills and experience to change career and help a child in need. For others, it may be someone who cannot have children, or simply who have the time and the space to offer to a child in need. As children may come from families and homes of neglect and abuse, people genuinely want to safeguard a child and give them the happy childhood they deserve.
For some, the title of foster carers as ‘parents’ can be difficult. People believe that children in care still have birth parents and therefore this would be confusing for the children and seen as disrespectful. However, especially for younger children in long term care, they need consistency and normality. They need a parental figure to provide day to day care not a professional foster carer.
Despite the perceived difference of ‘professional’ and ‘traditional’ foster carers, the child’s well-being continues to be the main priorirty. Every foster carer has a duty to protect and safeguard the child in their care whether their reasons to foster differ from someone elses. Fostering is about giving that child a safe environment away from any harm and giving them a stable family life.