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Can I Foster? Single Male Foster Carers

Fostering is all about the levels of care, love and attention that an individual can provide to a child, rather being about their age, gender or sexual orientation. On the other hand, we understand that there are many myths, questions and misunderstandings surrounding just who can and who can’t become a foster parent.

In the first part of our short series, we aim to dispel the myths around single male foster carers, who are still a largely underrepresented within the fostering community.

For anybody who has embarked on a fostering journey, you’ll know how rewarding and positive this experience can be for you, your family and the future of a foster child.

Over the past few years, we have found that attitudes towards men and childcare have changed dramatically. In fact, it is estimated that over 80% of fostering households in the UK feature male involvement, however, nearly a fifth of males, especially those who are single, still feel that they’re unable to become a foster parent.

Although It is apparent that very few barriers actually exist for anybody wanting to become a foster parent, we still find that single males are extremely underrepresented as foster carers.

Here at Perpetual Fostering, we are incredibly proud to be at the forefront of the fostering industry, as we’re immensely supportive of all foster carer applications, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or circumstances.

There is no doubt that single male foster carers can still provide a foster child with the the same high level of love, care and affection than those who are represented much more within the fostering community.

Male foster carers can improve previous relationships

Without being too overly critical of the reasons why children end up in the arms of loving and caring foster parents, we do find that a lack of a consistent and healthy adult male role model can be a common factor.

Ultimately, male foster carers, whether single, married or widowed, have the capability to help overcome any potential negativity that a foster child may be suffering from by providing a relationship that is warm, reliable, trustworthy and constructive.

We also find that males who have become part of a fostering family have been successful in changing the perception of the male role in domestic life, so all that cooking, cleaning and washing up does finally pay off.

At Perpetual Fostering we know that a male foster carer’s role, whether a single or married parent, is not one that is on the peripheries of a child’s needs, but a role that is central and pivotal in bringing about a happy and successful future for a foster child.

Whether you’re just starting to think about fostering for the first time, or maybe you’ve been doing it for years, our selection of trained social workers, together with our renowned fostering community, have been successful in providing first-class training, support and encouragement to all male and female foster parents, regardless of background or stage of the fostering journey.

So, if you’re a single male and actively interested in becoming a foster parent, then what are you waiting for? Apply online or speak to a member of our dedicated team today.

Nobody said fostering was all sunshine and rainbows, but you could be forgiven for thinking so when things start off so brightly. You bond with this adorable and polite young person by welcoming them into your home, but after the honeymoon period a new set of challenges may be unearthed.

Therefore, it’s important to understand that a foster child may not be used to such a change in circumstances, a life that suddenly feels easier, and at this point boundaries can often be tested.

Recent evidence suggests that 1/4 of foster children in the UK move homes at least once, sometimes as often as six times before settling. A shortage of foster carers makes it hard to find a perfect fit, but realistically, there’s no such thing.

Each fostering relationship comes with its own unique set of challenges, so what are the most common hurdles, and what can be done to overcome them?

(more…)

At Perpetual Fostering, we’re amazed by our community. Our family of foster carers includes all sorts of caring individuals who hold a special cause very close to their hearts – helping to improve the lives of vulnerable children. What’s the best thing about our community? No two foster carers are the same, and that’s crucial for our provision of care.

We aim for a community of foster carers that is as diverse and vibrant as the children who benefit from our provision of care. Read on to find out what is, and isn’t, important to us as we apply our robust recruitment process.

Diverse Community
For foster children of ethnic and minority backgrounds, a diverse community of carers is especially important. As much as possible, these foster children benefit massively from inspiring individuals who reflect their own upbringing and heritage.

Marital Status
Potential foster carers don’t need to be married! In fact, we need to emphasise how positive and educational it can be for foster children to experience a range of lifestyles and backgrounds. If they can see that successful, strong people lead their lives in all sorts of ways, that can only be a positive.

Gender
Gender plays no factor when it comes to fostering eligibility. Yet when asked about it, most in the UK are under the impression that a single male is unsuitable for foster care. We’re keen to reassure our community that the opposite is the truth, and have worked with countless male fosterers over the years.

Above all, the following points are the most important attributes of our carers:
• the ability to provide a stable environment
• being a tireless, genuine champion of the interests of foster children
• acting consistently as a ‘team player’ with everyone involved in the process

Why not tell us about your background? We guarantee that wherever you may come from, or whatever you do for a living, there is a type of fostering to suit you.

On 26th January, the BBC’s Education reporter Judith Burns relayed an arresting figure: “more than a third (37%) of children in care in England who have siblings” have to live apart from them, suggests research by a charity – The Family Rights Group (FRG). On top of that, Burns warns, “separating siblings could have ‘lifelong consequences’”.

She shows us how this issue is further compounded by children entering into residential care homes, with “almost three quarters of them [being] separated from their siblings”. This is contrasts with “only 8% of children” fostered by relatives facing the same split. At Perpetual Fostering, we recognise this fundamental difficulty in arranging placements all too well. When there is such a shortage of carers nationwide, the challenge of keeping siblings together becomes all the greater.

Burnes later goes on to cite legal guidelines on care: “the law places a duty on local authorities to place siblings together, so far as is reasonably practicable … based on ‘a clear presumption that this is … the best option for children going into care’”.

Aside from the legal side of the situation, she also outlines the emotional benefits of siblings staying together. There is a “great deal of reassurance” that siblings can and do provide for each other. This is especially the case when children have only recently been removed from their families. Add to this the fact that they may be brand new to the fostering process, and it’s clear just how complicated a situation this can be.

As an example, foster carers may have “no previous knowledge of what food” is preferred by the child, as well as what scares them, or “whether they have a particular soft toy at bedtime”.

In light of reporting these points, Burns outlines what the FRG hope for in future:

  • “that greater efforts are made to keep siblings together, unless contrary to an individual child’s needs
  • provide more support for separated siblings to keep in touch, including overnight stays
  • publish regular data on siblings in care
  • promote and support foster placements within the wider family group”

At Perpetual Fostering we hope this reinforces our core belief in the importance of high quality placements: every arrangement should be made to benefit the child as much as possible. We also hope, given the shortfall in foster carers across the country, that this issue can be addressed as soon as possible. Please do get in touch with us if you have any questions about your eligibility to foster – we’d love to hear from you.

At Perpetual Fostering, we observe and relate to many things that play on the mind of potential recruits. Time and time again, one of the most-asked questions on the minds of potential foster carers is: “who is best suited to being a foster carer?”. And each time, we reassure everyone: that “there is no such thing as a stereotypical foster carer”.

As outlined in the recent 2015 Ofsted report, we are an agency “underpinned by high-quality care built upon stable and successful placements” and we aim for a community of foster carers that is as diverse and vibrant as the children who benefit from our provision of care. Read on to find out what is – and what isn’t – important to us as we apply our robust recruitment process.

Diverse Community
For foster children of ethnic and minority backgrounds, a diverse community of carers is especially important. As much as possible, these foster children benefit massively from inspiring individuals who reflect their own upbringing and heritage.

Here’s an apt example. Denise Lewis wrote recently in the Guardian: “black children in care must be empowered to become confident adults, and identity and culture are an important part of this”. Whilst we wholly agree, we also need to emphasise how this is relevant for children from all communities across the UK.

Marital Status

Potential foster carers certainly don’t need to be married! In fact, we’d like to emphasise how positive and educational it can be for foster children to experience a range of lifestyles and backgrounds. If they can see that successful, strong people lead their lives in all sorts of ways, that can only be a positive learning experience for them going forwards.

Gender
For such a fundamental feature of each and every one of us, gender is one of the least important characteristics when it comes to fostering eligibility. Yet when asked about it, most in the UK are under the impression that a single male isn’t suitable for fostering. We’re keen to reassure our community that the opposite is the truth, and have worked with countless male foster carers over the years.

We hope the above points help to outline the possibility that fostering offers.
Above all, the following details are – alongside sound attitude and judgement – the most important attributes of exceptional carers:

  • the ability to provide a stable environment
  • being a tireless, genuine champion of the interests of foster children
  • acting consistently as a ‘team player’ with everyone involved in the process

Diversity and awareness are important to us as an independent fostering agency: please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to share your opinion, or if you think we’ve missed anything out. We also encourage you to read the Ofsted report in full for yourself.

In terms of importance, the psychological wellbeing of a foster child is every bit as crucial as the secure shelter and safety that a placement brings them.

At Perpetual Fostering, we pride ourselves on our holistic approach to placements, including instilling a sense of community, to support vulnerable youngsters as best we can. Once the hurdle of replacing an unstable situation with solid parenting is passed, a real priority of ours is to heal any damage done.

A prime example of how we go about building a sense of community, is in seeking out the help of clinical therapists, and specialised social services that operate as part of a local authority. Over time, this helps demonstrate to the child the value of a surrounding network of caring human beings. But what exactly does a clinical therapist do? Simply put, a clinical therapist is there to support foster carers as they strive to better meet the emotional needs of foster children.

Likwise, if you’re a carer and you notice troubling behavioural characteristics in a foster child, there are frameworks of support set up to assist you. For example, your local authority will have a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service team. These are the people you would contact – via your supervising social worker – if any of the following behavioural quirks, or events, crop up repeatedly:

  • school anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • persistent oppositional behaviours
  • sadistic behaviours
  • fear of being alone
  • a lack of self-awareness
  • defects in the capacity to build or maintain relationships

If several of the above present themselves, your first priority should always be to contact your social worker. As important it may seem to speedily liaise with professional help – to arrange a therapy appointment, for example – our fostering protocol is in place for a reason. It’s important to remember that as a foster carer with us, you’re never alone, so you shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch with us about anything that’s on your mind related to your role.

In the Ofsted 2014 assessment of Perpetual Fostering, we’re thrilled to say that we were rated ‘Good’ in Overall Effectiveness, alongside a ‘Good’ for our Quality of Service. We’re confident this reflects our commitment to a well-rounded fostering service – one that provides the full spectrum of support for vulnerable young people.

We’re pleased to let everyone know that we have published our updated 2015 Statement of Purpose. In line with the extremely positive appraisal from Ofsted, we decided it would be an ideal time to bring our overall mission in line with the progress we’ve made since our previous assessment.

Our main aim remains the provision of safe, high quality foster care provisions for children and young people. Complimenting this is our approach: through such carefully-arranged placements, we value, support and encourage each and every child to grow and develop as individuals.

Our service strives to consistently promote the health and general wellbeing of these vulnerable youngsters. In doing so, we’ve committed ourselves – since we were established in 2005 – to encouraging foster carers to go tirelessly above and beyond. This means enabling children to enjoy their childhood, while facilitating their educational attainment.

In terms of Services and Facilities, Perpetual Fostering will continue to offer the following services:

  • Emergency placements
  • Short term foster care (with the view of reunification with immediate/extended family)
  • Respite/short term breaks for children with complex health needs
  • Foster care for those in need of long-term placements
  • Long-term foster care for children in need of permanence
  • Staying Put arrangements
  • A robust matching process, carefully matching the needs of children with a diverse roster of foster parents
  • Placements for young people in need of semi-independence
  • Step Down/Wrap Around services for children and young people moving from residential care in to a fostering placement.

Regarding our Principles and Standards of Care, we continue to maintain our high standards via our robust quality assurance framework, which is bolstered nicely by regular reviews of our services provision. We actively seek feedback from everyone who comes into contact with our services: from foster carers, birth children, partner agencies, and as many fostered children and young people as possible. Both of these important factors help us to consistently strive for improvement of what we offer.

We strongly encourage you to read our Statement of Purpose – now available in the ‘About Us’ section of this website. We’d love to hear what you think, so please do get in touch to share your thoughts.

At Perpetual Fostering, we’re delighted to have some fantastic news to share with everyone! Ofsted’s inspection report – carried out at the end of October 2014 – of our services provision has been published, and is now available for members of the public to view on their website.

In this report, under every single aspect of the care services delivered by us, we were rated as “Good”, which is a fantastic reflection of how we have continually strived to improve. A detailed break down of the assessment is as follows:

Overall Effectiveness rating: Good
We’re immensely proud to be recognised as an agency “that strives to improve the outcomes of children and young people across all aspects of their development”. It also outlines our core commitment to high quality care, “built upon stable and successful placements, where unplanned endings are minimal”.

Experiences and progress of children and young people: Good
Here Ofsted have recognised that children in stable placements feel very much a part of their family. They’re also aided in adjusting to their placements, having access to trained clinical therapists.

Not only this, but these young people feel safe in their placements and are learning to trust their foster carers, developing secure attachments in the process. They also highlight that educational monitoring has become a key focus of the agency, which reinforces our commitment to giving these children their best possible chance in life.

Quality of Service: Good
The inspectors also recognised our dedicated ongoing support for our carers:

  • our supervising social workers ring carers regularly
  • foster carers are closely involved in the placement planning process
  • the vast majority of carers achieve all required training standards within one year of approval

The last point in particular reaffirms our conscientious approach to all aspects of the care we provide, given our “robust approach to recruitment and assessment of foster carers”.

Safeguarding children and young people: Good
We’re also happy to see that our emphasis on protecting children is acknowledged: “children and young people are part of the family and confirm that they feel safe and protected in their homes and in the wider community”. Just as importantly, it has been recognised that our foster children don’t struggle against bullying or intimidation.

Leadership and management: Good
Our current Registered Manager is highlighted by the report as having “brought stability and improvement to the agency”. Alongside the Team Manager, the improved leadership and accountability demonstrated by the agency have enabled staff to fully understand their roles all the more. Extensive experience and deep knowledge of foster care provision – above all on the part of our senior management – have also massively aided improvement of the agency’s operations.

To see these points acknowledged by Ofsted – especially our sustained improvement – is a huge boost for us as an independent fostering agency. If you’d like to read the findings of Ofsted for yourself, you can find the report in full here.

On Monday 19th January, Caroline Selkirk, Chief Executive of British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) wrote in the Guardian about the importance of placing children in care correctly. Above all, her focus was on those “difficult to place … particularly adolescents,” and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

She asks a poignant question: “newborn babies can be easy to place for adoption and fostering, but what about older children?”

Regarding foster care priorities over the last two decades, she describes how general emphasis has shifted to placements with permanency in mind. This is because of the central role that parents and a family life play in the development of a youngster. Clearly older children also benefit from a sense of permanence and security: the age difference shouldn’t make them any less entitled to quality care than a newly-born child.

Caroline also outlines groups newly eligible for fostering:
“There have been recent positive changes that focus on reducing delay, opening the criteria to prospective carers … for example, gay couples”. As an agency keen on identifying more high quality foster parents, we welcome recruitment from a larger pool of potential carers.

She then goes on to cover some developmental points she thinks the care sector needs to address:

  • the revised framework for long-term foster care
  • further development of special guardianship
  • effective support, specifically financial help for carers
  • challenges to adoption

As she sees it, these issues will need to be dealt with partly by building on sector expertise. But also going forward, future solutions should be increasingly developed with child-centred responses in mind.

We’re really pleased to see that Caroline has done such a fantastic job in highlighting pressing issues, like the need for permanency, and that some children are easier to place than others. On top of that, we hope that with increased discussion – on a global platform like the Guardian – we can make 2015 the year that real progress is made, in improving standards of care for all foster children.

Now that we’re in the swing of things in 2015, we hope to point out how important it is for us to recruit foster carers this year. We intend to see as many vulnerable children taken into care as possible – but there is still plenty to be done with that in mind. So it made sense for us to look back at some discussions from 2014, and see what we can take forward to make this year even better than the last.

The Numbers

Unfortunately, the problem does come down to numbers: there’s a glaring shortage of carers nationwide, with demand easily dwarfing supply. This means there is an urgent need for almost 9,000 foster carers if we, as a nation, are going to properly care for every child in need.

The figures break down as follows:

  • England needs to add over 7,300 more foster families
  • Scotland is short of 850 families
  • 600 are needed in Wales
  • while Northern Ireland is short of 200

Flexibility is Needed

In light of the numbers, having more potential foster carers on call is an important step closer to having flexibility regarding not only placements, as well as greater placement stability for the children concerned.

We’ve previously looked at why multiple placement options are an ideal approach when making arrangements for foster children. As much as possible, this kind of contingency would be ideal in case a placement goes wrong. In spite of the best efforts of any fostering agency, placements occasionally don’t work out.

The Crucial Chance

You could be the adult or role model in their life to make all the difference to their future!

We’ve previously highlighted how vulnerable young foster children have come a very long way, and without fail, their foster parents played a pivotal role in each case. As examples, just take Declan Rose, a documentary filmmaker focusing on fostering, and the inspiring story of Doreen Beattie – Cumbria’s Woman of the Year for her incredible record as a carer.

What have we missed out? Are there any lessons you think we should really be taking forward?

If you’ve been inspired, tell us! No matter if you’ve read widely or are just embarking on a foster journey of your own, find out about some more amazing people we’ve worked with, or get in touch with us directly.