One of the questions fostering agencies get asked most is whether you can foster if you are a single person. The answer is a resounding yes if you have a spare room and love to give. You don’t need any specific formal qualifications to apply to be a foster carer although some experience with children is helpful. As long as you care and have a good support network in place, fostering is a great option for you. You will be helping a child or children who need to feel safe and grounded. The rewards to single people who become foster carers are huge. You will know you are making a really positive difference which is a superb feeling in itself. You will get to know a special person or people and learn so much along the way.
Fostering when single
If you are thinking about fostering when single, have a think about the qualities and skills you will bring to the role. You may be a nurturing and supportive person to your family and friends. Are you patient? Do you have good interpersonal skills? Fostering involves working with a lot of different people from the child in your care to professionals and the child’s family. It can be challenging to think about our own great qualities so it’s a good idea to ask for feedback from your loved ones and those who know you best such as family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. You may be surprised at the things they mention that you just take for granted as part of your personality. Remember you will have lots of support and training as a single foster carer so you may find yourself improving on skills such as resilience and flexibility as you go. You are not expected to be a perfect person as they just don’t exist. Think about the practicalities too. You will need space to host a child or children. You need to ensure your other responsibilities in life leave enough space for you to commit to fostering. However, even if you have a demanding job, you can still help a child in need perhaps by offering respite care at weekends. Don’t give up and rule yourself out of fostering until you have spoken to a reputable fostering agency to find out the options available to you.
Support for single foster carers
Single foster carers are never alone. You become part of a wonderful community of peers some of whom will have that little bit more experience than you have initially. You will have access to support that is available 24 hours per day 7 days per week. It is worth noting that it actually a sign of strength to say when you are struggling a bit and to reach out for support. It is very unlikely that you will face a challenge that other foster carers have not confronted at some point in their fostering journey. Tap into your local professionals such as social workers, teachers and health visitors drawing on their expertise and advice. You will also have access to heaps of training including how to deal with trauma responses your foster child or children may display. Before you know it you may be the person other foster carers turn to for help.
Financial back-up for single foster carers
Potential single foster carers can feel embarrassed about asking about financial support. However, when you think about it birth parents have significant costs in raising a child and fostering is no different. There will be clothes, food and school dinners to buy. Your foster child will have activities and clubs to attend. Your utility bills will go up and you may wish to give pocket money to your foster child. It all adds up. You may also reduce your working hours or give up your job entirely to care for the child. To relieve the stress on the single foster carer, there will be a generous financial package of support with you accessing fees and allowances. Do not feel guilty about this as it is all about ensuring the child in your care has what they need and that you are rewarded for your time and commitment. For further information on fostering finances, check out https://www.gov.uk/foster-carers/help-with-the-cost-of-fostering which covers what you need to know.
Considering fostering as a single person?
If you think fostering as a single person might be for you, we advise you to read blog posts from people who have experience as foster carers. If you have children, you might like to read stories from children who are part of foster families too. Whatever your questions or concerns, a fostering agency will always be happy to discuss your individual situation and what you might bring to fostering. There are open events and roadshows that you can attend to find out more without making any sort of firm commitment to becoming a foster carer. Talk to the people in your life who will be affected if you become a single foster carer such as your parents, children, friends, neighbours and colleagues. You can usefully take a readiness quiz to find out not only whether fostering is right for you but if the time is right too.
There are so many children and teenagers looking for a place to call home. I hope this post has inspired you to find out more about fostering.