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Common issues in fostering

Separation from family is one of the most upsetting events that can be experienced by a child. Therefore, becoming a foster carer/parent has many challenges and requires a high level of commitment. Children who have suffered abuse and neglect can display a range of challenging behaviours and require a high level of physical, emotional and social support. Other challenges may include:

  • Limited support during emergencies
  • Experiencing stress when dealing with children's complex emotions and behaviour
  • Lack of information and/or training to address problematic behaviours or health issues
  • Inadequate financial resources for children with special needs
  • Difficulties dealing with birth parents or issues between the child and the birth parent(s)/ families
  • Saying goodbye when a child or young person is reunified or moved to another foster placement

Below are some helpful tips that may help the foster carers/parents in dealing with the challenges of foster caring:

  • Get to know the child in your care
  • Identify their strengths and areas of need
  • Be aware of any special requirements of the child
  • Set boundaries and daily routines (e.g. meal times and bedtimes). However, these may need to be introduced slowly to allow time for the child to settle in and familiarise with the new family.
  • Be patient when a child tests you to find out if you are genuine or patient enough
  • As much as the situation permits, you need to be very understanding and show the child that they can trust you.
  • If you have children of your own at home, the foster child would need to be adequately looked after and assured that they are welcome in the family.
  • When deciding on becoming a foster parent, it is important to consider how your family would feel about it and when possible, involve them in the decision-making.
  • When accepting a placement, it is important that you discuss with your case worker the potential issues that may occur, so you can have realistic expectations of the foster child. It is also important to maintain ongoing contact with your case worker.
  • It may help to join a foster parent support group, if available so you can access local services as well as information resources. If there is no local group available, your case worker might be able to refer you to an online support network.