As Bristol City Council prepares for its next free information event to help stem the ever-growing demand for foster carers, here are a few myths busted by people in the know:
Myth 1 – “I need to own a home.”
“You don’t need to own your home to be a foster carer. Whether you have a mortgage, or are a private or council tenant makes no difference so long as you have a secure tenancy. The most important things are that you have space in your home and life for the foster child and that you can provide them with love and stability.” Councillor Clare Campion-Smith, cabinet member for people with responsibility for fostering and adoption services.
Myth 2 – “My circumstances don’t make me suitable – I’m too old, not married, gay.”
“There are three things we ask before anyone applies. Are you over 21? Do you have the energy and the health to care for a child? Do you have the space in your lives for a child? Whether you’re young or old, married or single, gay or straight, we don’t turn anyone away who can answer yes to those three questions. Our carers come from many different backgrounds and all lead different lives. It’s important to us that we have carers that are as diverse as the city we live in, the city many of our children in care recognise as home.” Karen Amegashitsi, family placement team manager at Bristol City Council.
Myth 3 – “I can’t afford to care for a child.”
“Supporting the care of a child did cause me some concerns when I applied but I was amazed to learn just how much support you get. Fostering isn’t charity. Neither is it a paid job. Foster carers get paid an allowance to cover the extra household and day to day costs of caring for a young person. I was delighted to find how the allowance you get is more than enough to cover the costs and I was really pleased to learn that Bristol City Council also pay extra amounts to more experienced carers who care for children with more complex needs. As a new carer it is a relief to know that the costs are thought of and accommodated for. You also receive all the equipment you need from beds and bedding to stair gates and car seats.” Mark Pennington-Field, foster carer.
Myth 4 – “I don’t think people from my ethnic group become foster carers”
“It’s so important to have carers from a diverse range of backgrounds. Children come into care from all over the city and from all communities. When we look to place a vulnerable child, often we find that if we can provide them with a foster home with a family that share their ethnic background it can help them settle in and be more at ease with their surroundings. We always want to hear more from BME communities in the city.” Karen Broughton, senior practitioner at Bristol City Council.
Myth 5 – “How can I foster when my children still live at home”
“You’ve got children already – great! That means you know what it takes to give a child or young person the love and security they need to grow and flourish. Most of the people I know who were in foster care with families who already had children have really strong relationships with their foster siblings. When a child or a young person comes to live with a family they don’t know, often having other children about really helps and gives them someone to relate to, someone they can talk to who isn’t a “grown up”. It’s really comforting.” Rosie Fortune, care leaver and and carer ambassador at Bristol City Council.
To find out more about fostering in Bristol or to attend a free information session, click onto visit this Facebook page or visit the city council’s website. The next information session will be held at the Create Centre, Smeaton Road, BS1 6XN on Monday, September 5 from 6.30pm.
Photo courtesy of www.fosteringfoundation.co.uk/bristol/