Foster care can be a very rewarding experience, but it is not always easy. If you are considering becoming a foster carer, it’s crucial that you have a strong support system in place to help you through all the ups and downs that can come along with caring for a child. In this post, we’ll explore the importance of building a support system, and the ways that you can prepare yourself for the journey ahead.
Why Support Is Important for Foster Carers
If you don’t have a support system in place, fostering can get quite lonely. While it’s very rewarding, there are bound to be times when you can’t do everything on your own, so it’s essential to have people around you that you can turn to for help, advice, and support when needed.
A good support system can help you navigate any practical or emotional issues that might arise. Having somebody to talk to can be very helpful, and your support system can also help with practical matters such as arranging transportation or childcare.
Types of Support
The good news is that as a foster carer, you don’t have to do it on your own. There are many types of support that you can access. Some examples are:
- Friends and family: Family members and friends will often be your first port of call as a foster carer. They can provide you with both emotional support and practical help.
- Foster care agency: Your foster care agency can provide a wide range of support types. These include guidance, training, mentoring, access to resources, and fostering allowances to ease the financial pressure and allow you to work less, so you can prioritise your foster child more.
- Other foster carers: Connecting with other foster carers in your area can be an ideal way to get support. These people understand fostering and your experiences as they have been through it themselves, allowing them to offer tailored advice and support that you can often only get from somebody who’s been there too.
- Professional support: Depending on the needs of your foster child, you may also want to consider getting professional support from a therapist or counsellor. This could include therapy for your foster child only, or getting therapy yourself if you feel it will help.
Preparing Your Support System
Before you start the journey of becoming a foster carer, building your support system is crucial. Some tips to help you prepare include:
- Talk to friends and family: Let the people in your life know your plans and explain what it involves. Ask them if they are willing to provide help and support if needed.
- Attend support and training groups: Your foster care agency will offer training and support groups you should attend while getting ready to foster. Attending as many as possible gives you the chance to meet other foster carers and build your support network.
- Look for local support: Find local groups for foster carers, or even parents’ groups in your area that you can attend to meet new people and get support.
Fostering is rewarding but going it alone can be challenging. Thankfully, there is a lot of support available for foster carers, so build your support network before you start to ensure you will always be able to get help when you need it.