How do I become a foster carer?
The application process involves conveniently scheduled visits to your home over a determined period of time. Staff members gather paperwork, interview all family members, inspect the home for safety and fully explain the responsibilities of foster carer. The careful screening process helps you determine whether or not foster care is right for you, and, if yes, helps the team match just the right child to your home.
What qualities should I possess to become a foster carer?
Generally, most successful foster carers are open-minded, dependable, patient and willing to learn new caring styles for children with different needs. Having a flexible schedule, being tolerant of change and demonstrating the ability to follow guidelines are all important qualities for success.
Do I need any special training or a special foster care license?
No, you don’t need a special foster carer license, although you will be required to take a special training. Though training you will be provided with everything you will need, including: orientation to the program, ongoing training, regular in-person support, twenty-four hour on-call support availability and other tools to help you learn and develop your skills along the way.
How long will a child stay in my home?
This varies depending on the needs of the child and the circumstances of his or her placement. Some children are returned home after only a few months; others after a year or so. Sometimes, children who can’t go home become eligible for adoption; others remain in foster care until age 18.
Where will my foster child come from?
Children are placed through child protective residential facility across the country. They may enter your home directly from their family of origin’s home, another foster home or from a more restrictive setting such as a residential facility.
What kinds of kids will you place in my home?
When it comes to foster children, one size does not fit all. There’s no typical foster child: some kids are stepping down from residential treatment; some have developmental delays; some have suffered unspeakable abuse; some have never been required to follow the rules of society; some have built walls around themselves to keep out the hurt; and some have lost their beloved homes and families. Most will undergo counseling and therapy while in foster care. It won’t be easy to help a child who has known such pain and upheaval, but you will be provided extensive training on how to handle the specific needs of your foster child.
Must I take any child you place with me?
No. Before placement, you will be presented with available information about the child the fostering team believe “matches” with your household. You may request additional information, and you may always accept or reject a child’s placement. Saying “no” does not affect our willingness to call you about other children in the future. We respect your right to do what you think is best for your family.
Will I get to meet the child before he or she moves in with me?
Sometimes. If time allows, the fostering team try to arrange pre-placement visits so you can meet ahead of time. In many cases, however, a child’s need for a foster home is urgent, and you won’t be able to meet your foster child until he or she arrives at your door.
Do you offer financial compensation?
Yes, Government provides a small contribution to compensate your expenses. The local office can explain the current rate structure and payment system. This money is provided to cover such expenses as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, recreation and allowance, and should not be considered income. Foster care in Malta does not have a minimum income requirement. However, your income must be earned and should be sufficient to meet the financial needs of your family.
How will my own children be affected by my foster children?
All children are influenced by the behaviors and attitudes of other people, whether these individuals are friends at school, neighbors, or foster children. If your children understand your expectations and have a sense of appropriate behavior and values, it is unlikely that they will be adversely influenced.
Do foster children need their own bedrooms?
No. Children of the same sex are permitted to share bedrooms provided that the foster child has space for personal belongings and opportunities for privacy. Children are not allowed to share the same bed. The bedroom designated for the foster child must have a door for privacy and a window to allow for ventilation and a second means of escape in case of emergency.
Where and when do children visit with their families of origin?
When the goal is to eventually reunite the family, visits are crucial to help the child maintain a sense of belonging and identity. Visitation schedules vary and may be scheduled once a week or once or twice a month. You’ll be asked to transport the child to visits, which are generally held in a supervised office setting.
What kind of help and support will I get?
NFCAM strives to do its utmost to be the voice for foster children and families. We try and maintain frequent, consistent contact, and we’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year to listen to your queries, support you and guide you.
What if I’m overwhelmed or I can’t handle my foster child’s problem?
So that you don’t get overwhelmed, the fostering team provide respite care, both on a regular schedule and on an emergency basis. The fostering team recognize that sometimes placements fail despite everyone’s best efforts. If the situation becomes unworkable, we will move the child to another home.
What forms of discipline am I allowed to enforce?
Your current caring style will determine how much of an adjustment you will need to make to follow the guidelines. The policies and guidelines are designed to protect both you and your foster children. We only allow appropriate, non-physical methods of discipline, such as removing privileges, giving “time outs” and using rewards, encouragement and praise for good behavior. Some of our discipline rules:
No physical punishment
No withholding meals, clothing, or shelter
No verbal abuse or name-calling
No threats to have a child removed
No physically strenuous work or exercise solely for punishment
No allowing other children to punish the foster child
Do children ever become available for adoption?
Yes. Sometimes, for various reasons, children are unable to return home and may have a court-ordered goal of adoption. Foster carers are always given adoption consideration when a child in their home needs a permanent family.