Fostering a child with additional needs is a great role to step into. Not only is it highly rewarding, but it is also an opportunity to gain experience and make a positive difference in the world. You will get all the training you need plus ongoing support at any time of day to do the job to the best of your ability. Here are four pieces of advice to read through before your first placement begins.
Decide What Type of Carer You Want to Be
Fostering children with disabilities is a varied role. You can choose to foster long-term, or short-term, or offer respite care for parents looking for some downtime. Before you step into the process, it will be useful for you and your family to decide what type of care you are able to provide. If the idea of fostering a few days of the month to provide crucial support to caregivers is appealing, then you should take a look at becoming a respite carer. If you want to provide a more long-term space for a child with a disability who needs it, then there are routes into this too.
The need for foster carers looking after disabled children is always high, so anyone pursuing this role should discuss what you are able to offer upfront. Make sure you have a clear answer on this before you start the process, and don’t be afraid to change your mind along the way.
Let It Grow Your Experience
Fostering any child is a new experience because every person on the planet is different. When you foster a disabled child, it is definitely a role that will enhance your professional skillset and enable you to grow within that scope. Your role as a carer in this capacity will make you feel confident, capable, and ready for any challenge that may come along during all your subsequent placements.
Adapt Your Home
Some disabilities require a degree of home adaptation. Make sure all the needs are discussed before the child comes to live with you so that they are comfortable, and you feel able to support them in the best way possible. When your home is ready, you will feel more capable of meeting the needs of the child, and this is extremely important in this context.
Anyone in the role of a carer for a disabled child needs to have a degree of flexibility. Every day may look different, and what worked yesterday is not guaranteed to work tomorrow, so you need to be ready and respond proactively to the present moment. This role needs you to be able to think on your feet a lot, just like any foster carer must, and mental flexibility is a big part of what makes that possible.
Foster carers looking after disabled children will have a slightly different role to those that don’t. However, the core principles will always remain the same at the heart of what you do, and that’s the important bit right there. Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless of the condition that you’re supporting, there are millions of tools to make it a positive experience for everyone.