Becoming a foster carer is an incredibly rich and rewarding experience. Providing a supportive and safe environment can have a huge influence on a young person’s life as well as your own. There are plenty of myths and misconceptions around fostering, but what many people don’t realise is that there are some things that may be completely normal to do with birth children, that aren’t allowed when fostering.

At Orchard Fostering, we’re committed to supporting and educating foster carers. That’s why we’ve compiled a practical guide on some important dos and don’ts of fostering.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page.

What You Can’t Do as a Foster Parent

Leave Foster Children Without Adult Supervision

As a foster carer, you have a responsibility to ensure your foster child is cared for and feels safe in their environment. Especially if they’re younger, it’s not reasonable to leave them without adequate adult supervision. Using good judgement, you can leave them with responsible adults for short periods of time including day care, provided you get permission first.

Change the Names of Foster Children

Changing a child’s name can have a significant impact on their sense of identity and wellbeing. Your foster child likely already has a connection to their name that brings with it a personal history and story. That’s why as a foster parent, you don’t have the right to change your foster child’s name. If you decide to call them a nickname, you should also make sure that’s something your child is comfortable with beforehand.  

Change the Appearance of Foster Children

Taking care of your foster child’s appearance is an important aspect of providing a nurturing home for them. Trimming their fingernails, brushing their hair, and general upkeep of their hygiene are all expected. However, making any drastic changes to your child’s appearance isn’t allowed. This involves dying their hair or giving them a new haircut. Even if this is something they ask for, a foster parent should always get approval before any big changes.

Last Minute Overnight Stays and Trips

While there are plenty of fun ways to keep the family entertained during the summer, family trips can be a great way to bond and create memories. However, it’s important to communicate any planned trips well in advance. Similarly, last minute overnight stays aren’t generally allowed. This is both for safety reasons and because a sense of stability is important for children in foster care. Any planned change of residence should also be communicated in good time. 

Share a Room with A Foster Sibling 

It’s totally normal for siblings to share a room growing up. However, your foster child requires a separate room of their own. Every child will be coming from different circumstances and sharing a room with a foster sibling isn’t permitted. This doesn’t need to prevent foster siblings from bonding. There are plenty of other ways to encourage positive relationships among foster siblings

Can I Have Pets?

A common misconception is that having pets prevents you from being able to foster. That’s not the case. Pets can bring a great sense of warmth and companionship to any household and doesn’t mean you can’t become a foster carer. Of course, it’s important to remember not every child will be used to having pets and may not know how to interact with them. They may also be allergic. In general, an initial assessment will be able to determine whether it’s a good fit.

Social Media and Foster Care

It’s understandable to want to share family pictures and memories on social media. However, when fostering, it’s important to use social media safely and sharing images of your foster child can be a violation of your foster child’s privacy and pose a risk to their safety. But there are some simple ways to avoid identifying your foster child. When sharing group photos, you could use a sticker or crop the image to remove identifying traits of your foster child. You could also use an alternative name or nickname instead of using your foster child’s real name. Likewise, don’t post any location specific information such as addresses (even if they’re approximate). The same goes for more traditional forms of media, for instance, newspapers and magazines.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page.