Fostering and the Christian Faith

Fostering and the Christian faith seem to have many close parallels and flow one from the other.

You don’t necessarily need to have a strong faith in order to feel compassion for a fellow human being and especially a vulnerable child. There can an innate desire to help where possible, and to share some of the home comforts we take for granted.

Of course taking strangers into your home is not a trivial thing, and it will impact upon all the current household. There needs to be agreement from everyone that the fostered child will be welcomed and integrated into the family and any house rules.

Certain core Christian values seem to support fostering. Everyone’s right to privacy and security needs to be recognised. People need their own space wherever possible, and rules such as always knocking on doors before entering should be adhered to.

We have found eating our main meal seated together as a family a great integrator, and a way to discuss any household issues. Other activities together, such as a simple game of cards further the bonding process, and allow expression whilst having fun.

The opportunity to attend church on a Sunday of course is always there, but never forced upon the child. Should they practice any other faith, then naturally this is to be respected and supported in a practical sense as needs be.

Fostered children are often coming from chaotic backgrounds, so it will be a culture shock to enter a calm, disciplined Christian household. Patience is needed to manage this transition, and allow the child time to adjust and find trust in this new environment.

We have found routine a wonderful settler where the child knows what to expect and the standards that are expected in return. Bed times are regulated to ensure sufficient rest for school the next day, and any tablets or phones are switched off some time before bed to aid good quality sleep.

We stress the importance of not lying as a fundamental value, and always feeling able to express an opinion or voice any concern.

It is always a useful exercise to allow the child to draw up their own house rules and these can then be amalgamated with any existing rules to provide a clear pathway forwards. Children are encouraged to help around the house, assisting in everyday chores such as washing up or cleaning. This teaches useful life skills as well as a sense of responsibility in contributing towards the house running.

Being a Christian means helping others to be the very best they can be, after providing the safe haven they needed. A child’s interests should be encouraged, and progress praised in any new developing skills.

Living in a foster home promotes respect for others. We can all learn from each other, and in time grow as a family unit. It’s not always an easy process, particularly when the child is first placed in a foster home. Sometimes the placement will break down, and it will be in the best interests of everyone that another home is found. The carers need to be flexible to this, yet steadfast in their willingness to help, and provide security.

We are all God’s children. He loves us all and will provide for us all in time as we place our trust in him. Fostering is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that whilst living a Christian life.

Richard is a foster carer with Greater London Fostering.

Call 0208 347 8741 or email  [email protected] if you’ d like to find out more. We welcome people from any religious or non-religious background.

Fostering – What’s Stopping You?

The decision to become a foster carer isn’t an easy one to make. Fostering will have an impact on not only the child in care, but your life and your family’s life too. There’s a lot to think about so it’s natural to have concerns. Every day I talk to people who are interested in fostering and there seems to be a certain level of reluctance to ask certain questions. Maybe they think it’s cheeky to ask about money? Maybe they don’t want to appear like they couldn’t manage if they were to foster.

How will your family feel about sharing their home with someone they don’t know? How will you fit in the endless meetings, contact and school-run alongside your own career? What if the child you foster doesn’t like you? There is a lot to think about. So let’s talk about what’s stopping you from fostering…

Money, money, money  

Feel like money could be a problem? Nobody fosters for the money, but the extra income you get a carer certainly helps. Part of the decision to foster should be to consider how it will affect the level of income you’ll be receiving. It might be the case that you decide to reduce your contract, to work part time. Foster carers should be financially stable without the fostering allowance. That’s why many of our carers continue to work part time or full time.

Think you can’t foster because you work? Ultimately, we ask that our carers are financially stable without the fostering allowance they receive. A lot of our foster carers continue to work, either full time or part time. It’s just important that you have a support network of family and friends who can help you.

Help (I need somebody)

Feel like you won’t be able to manage on your own? The short answer is we don’t expect you to! When you become a foster carer, you will be assigned a social worker, who will support you throughout your fostering experience. GLF also runs regular support groups and training courses.

You might be worrying about whether you meet our requirements. When it comes to the things that are a definite ‘no, you can’t foster’, there aren’t as many as you might think.

Whats love got to do with it?

Think you can’t foster because you’re not in a relationship? You don’t have to be in a couple to foster. You can be married, in a long term relationship or single. Families come in all shapes and sizes, so you won’t be judged for the size of yours.

Think you can’t foster because you’re gay? It doesn’t matter if you are gay, lesbian, trans-gender or heterosexual. We live in a diverse culture and we want this to be reflected in our fostering community. Your sexuality really doesn’t matter to us. What’s important is the experience and support you can bring to your role as a foster carer.

Think you can’t foster because you’re too old or too young? You can become a foster carer if you are over 21 years old and there is no upper age limit. As long as you are fit and able enough to look after children, then you can foster.

There are thousands of children needing foster families. These children come from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures, religions. We need foster carers to reflect this diversity. So, regardless of your age, ethnicity, employment or relationship status and as long as you have a spare room and the time, the reality is you could probably foster.

If you are thinking about it then get in touch, ask a question, start the journey. We’re ready and waiting for your questions!

Louise is a recruitment officer at Greater London Fostering.