Mieke Ryan and Eugene Bigley, Origins Foster Care, Ireland.
There is an age old tradition in Ireland of adults taking on the care of children who are not their own biological offspring, who are in need of care and protection, and ensuring they are given the best opportunity to move towards maturity and into the adult world.
This tradition continues nowadays when a child’s parent is unable to care for their child on either a part time or full time basis, and an alternative parenting solution is required. There are approximately 6,000 children in state care in Ireland and Tusla is the agency that has responsibility for their care and protection. Origins foster care works with Tusla to identify suitable foster carers for these children who are in need of care, protection and a safe home. Foster carers are essential in providing these children with a positive experience of family life, a supportive daily routine, love, guidance and boundaries to enable them to meet their true potential.
Foster carers often describe themselves as being average people. However, these average people do an above average job. Each foster carer comes into the role for their own personal reasons and the specific motivations behind the decision to foster are unique to each carer. But there are some factors that many foster carers report have helped in their decision to foster.
So if you’re thinking about fostering, here are some good reasons to take the first step on your journey.
- You have time and resources to offer
You have time in your life to devote to caring for a foster child, to invest in helping them build positive attachments and feel safe and supported in your home. You have space in your home for a child to grow and flourish in. You have the energy, empathy and spirit to help a child look forward to a positive future.
- You can empathise and connect with vulnerable children.
Foster carers come from all walks of life and many are people who know how it feels to have grown up in a difficult situation, have witnessed friends or family members going through hard times, or have experienced some loss in their own lives. It is important that foster carers have received the supports needed to help them work through these issues so that they can be emotionally available for the children in their care, but having an understanding of how it feels to be lost and alone can greatly help a carer to connect with a vulnerable child and stick with them through tough times. Foster carers can draw on their own resilience and strength to support children in their care to take their own steps forward towards a healthy adult life.
- You love kids and you are great with them.
It is important that anyone considering fostering firstly loves children and has an understanding of how to communicate with them. Further training is provided to all carers on how to support a child to build attachments and to promote their sense of safety and security in the home, but foster carers must be people who genuinely love children and enjoy spending time with them. Fostering brings so many opportunities for fun times and happy memories for children and carers alike.
- You want to play your part within your community.
Foster carers recognize the need to find children safe and loving homes, and they see that they can make a difference in the lives of these children. They understand that this is a real way to help society, by helping one child at a time.
- A child needs YOU.
You specifically. You can give love and attention to a child in a unique and important way that no one else can. You have a one-of-a-kind life situation that has shaped you into a person who has what it takes to extend loving kindness to a specific child. A child can benefit greatly from your own experiences and from the fun and love that you share within your own community of family and friends. Fostering is an opportunity to let a child be loved by you and know what it means to have you as their parent.
- Fostering is so rewarding
Seeing a child coming from neglectful or abusive situations, taking them into your home and watching them grow happily is a hugely rewarding experience for caring adults. In some instances there will be additional tasks to complete with the foster child as experiences of neglect and abuse can leave a child with developmental challenges. Often additional supports will have to be provided such as speech ad language therapy or some form of counseling. Each child has their own unique needs and challenges. You’ll also get to work with many different people, from social workers, therapists, doctors, and school personnel and you will learn many new skills and gain a lot of knowledge. No two days will be exactly alike. Applying these new skills and accessing supports for a foster child growing up in your home can be very satisfying, especially when you see the child relaxing in your home, healing from neglect and abuse and becoming part of the family.
The fostering journey can be challenging and complex, but it is also full of fun, love, new experiences, learning and joy. And we want to be there for you every step of the way. Our model at Origins aims to make the best possible foster experience for the family and the child. We offer 24/7 support, dedicated workers and regular high quality training in reaching this goal.
Contact us at Origins Foster Care today to find out whether fostering is for you.