A continuation of my blog series for Foster Care Fortnight.
A strong support network is a vital part of life for any foster parent. From stage 1 of your assessment until your last days of fostering, the S word will be ever present. A support network can look different to each foster parent; featuring biological family members, friends, neighbours, local schools and clubs…anyone who you can turn to for help if needed. Let me tell you, fostering really shows who you can lean on…try asking a friend to have a DBS check in order to babysit for you. If they stick around, you’ve got a good one!
Foster parents need people to turn to, for all kinds of things – babysitting, parenting advice, lift sharing to clubs and activities, someone to call at 1am when it feels completely overwhelming. It’s so important to have that network available. I often use the analogy of an oxygen mask on a plane…when the safety announcement says that you should put your own mask on before helping others. It’s true of fostering, you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of the child you’re trusted with.
Sadly lots of foster parents don’t have enough support, not just from friends and family but from professional organisations too. Ever heard the phrase red tape? Sometimes I feel like I’m bound up in it, trying to access support or intervention for a foster child. Regrettably finance is often a key factor in delaying or preventing a child from accessing what they need, which puts added pressure on an already struggling child … This in turn means more challenges for the foster parent and a greater reliance on their support network to step up and pitch in however they can.
By surrounding themselves with a strong support network, foster parents aren’t just protecting themselves against burnout and stress. They’re also doing something potentially greater and longer lasting: demonstrating to the child that they can trust others, need others, and that others care about them enough to be around for them, which is something they may never have experienced before.
all views expressed in this post are wholly my own