Like the rest of the country, there is a shortage of foster carers in Scotland. How can you become a foster carer in your area and what kind of foster care placements are needed?
Children are fostered for many reasons. It could be because of a chaotic, unstable home life or it may be because parents need extra support and for a short time, a child needs to live with a foster family.
Understanding the different forms of fostering is important as is understanding what kind of foster placements are needed.
Respite foster care
This is where children spend a short period of time with a foster family. It may be because their current foster carers need a break or because there are issues at home, such as an ill parent. This can be a long-term solution for helping children stay with their parents or it can be a one-off foster placement for a child, for example whilst a parent is in hospital.
Short term foster care
Similar to respite, some children need to be looked after by a foster carer for a short time whilst their families receive support. Or it may be that they stay in what is called short-term foster care whilst they are prepared for adoption. Short term fostering may mean you look after a child or children for a few weeks or for up to two years until permanency is decided.
Permanent foster care
Also known as long-term foster care, some children live with a foster family on a permanent basis. This is because after everything is considered, and taking into account the wishes of the child, the best option is for the child to remain in foster care.
Fostering agencies and local authorities look for foster carers from across all backgrounds, but also people and families who can offer different kinds of foster care placements.
Why are ‘local’ foster families important?
Occasionally, family circumstances dictate that for looked after children, the best placement is away from their home area. This affords them protection and a chance to move on from what can be a distressing home life.
But for the majority of children and young people, there is a need for them to remain in their local area. This means that they may be able to continue going to the same school, stay in touch with friends but more importantly, stay in touch with their birth parents and/or their extended family.
Recruiting foster carers
In Scotland, there is a shortage of around 640 foster families. Over 5,000 children in Scotland live in foster care but there are more children who need to live with foster families.
This gap needs to be filled which is why, if you are interested in fostering, looking to an agency who is seeking foster families in your local area is a great start.
Anyone over the age of 21 can foster – there is no upper age limit – providing you have the time to dedicate to a foster child and a spare room. Applications are encouraged from across society, including the LGBT community.
Foster Care Associates Scotland are looking for foster families to provide a nurturing home to children of all ages and from across Scotland.