Everyone who has raised a child knows the level of love, commitment, time and patience that must be invested if that child is to become a healthy and well-rounded adult. What gets us through the tough times is the blood ties that bind us and the instinctive love that goes with it, or at least this is true in most cases. For some children, childhood is a constant battle for survival due to various issues such as suffering physical or sexual abuse in their homes, or receiving insufficient food to sustain a growing body. In such cases the children will be taken in by The Department for Child Protection and Family Support who will firstly find out if stable relatives exist who are able to take the children in, beforefoster care is considered.
Who Qualifies to Foster
Foster care NSW knows that children that have been traumatised in any way need special attention if they are to develop into mentally and physically healthy grown-ups. Those who believe that all a child really needs is love are sorely mistaken if they understand this to mean hugs and kisses alone, and they have definitely never had day to day dealings with a traumatised child. The type of people who accept the responsibility of caring for a troubled child that is not their own, know that love is crucial, but that it needs to manifest in numerous ways to carry any conviction, particularly with children to whom it may be a stranger. These are truly special individuals who have an innate love of humanity and a willingness to express this to anyone in need. These are the people for whom taking in a child means the privilege of helping to reshape a shattered young life, and see this as magnificent reward enough. Foster parents can be male or female; married or single; be retired or working, as long they are in good health.
What is Involved
Foster care is different to adoption in that its ultimate aim is to see a child reunited with its birth parents as soon as possible. Depending on individual circumstances, a child may need fostering for a few days, a few months, or possibly for years until they reach the age of 18, but will always, unless it is detrimental to their overall well-being, retain contact with their birth parents. Foster parents will be required to ensure that the prescribed contact takes place. In all other aspects they will assume the duties carried out by any responsible parent, while also paying attention to the special needs that often accompany children who have been removed from their family home, no matter the conditions under which they lived. Trauma will need to be addressed, but this will be done with the full support and assistance of the department.
The maturity and lifestyle of prospective foster parents is taken into account when placing a child. Babies and toddlers are preferably placed with younger persons who have the energy levels necessary to keep up with the specific demands associated with a very young child. Older children may be happiest with families who have children of their own, and teenagers need the patience and understanding of persons well acquainted with their special needs. There are no hard and fast rules, though, and many aspects of an individual’s personality and character will be considered. The primary objective is that the child is made to feel safe and accepted in their new environment, while still retaining their own identity and sense of family connection.
Ethnic groupings are important when it comes to personal identity, so that children will ideally be placed within their own communities. Where shortages of carers make this impossible, foster parents will be encouraged to allow a child as much contact as possible with their natural heritage. A call to the department can initiate a very rewarding experience.