8 most common fostering challenges


Thinking of becoming a foster carer, but want to understand exactly what fostering challenges you might face? That’s pretty normal – and preparing yourself for what this career entails is important to ensure you’re making the right decision.

This guide highlights a list of the most common fostering problems and solutions, as well as challenges of being a foster child, and how to support these as a carer.

Challenges foster parents face

1. Adjusting to new situation

Adjusting to caring for a foster child can often take a little getting used to, especially if you don’t have biological children yourself. The demand on your time and energy that a foster care placement will be something to consider during the application process. Whether it’s understanding how your social life balance has changed, or the ‘me-time’ for yourself that has had to take a shift, fostering a child is undoubtedly an adjustment for many carers, and could lead to burnout if not managed properly. 

Solution: when you’re fostering with the right independent fostering agency, you’ll have the best support available to ensure you’re coping with the adjustment period. Your social worker, and a network of supportive like-minded foster carers, will be always available for you, to guide you through any tricky periods, or answer any queries you have along the way. 

2. Interaction with birth family

Often, a child is in care because of a difficult family situation, or for many other reasons surrounding their biological family. This can cause difficulty around navigating interactions – especially if your foster child doesn’t want to see them, or their birth parents are constantly letting them down and disappointing them by not showing up to pre-planned visits. It can be difficult to manage this situation, but it can also be hard seeing your foster child feeling neglected and hurt by these interactions (or lack of). 

Solution: you’ll be teamed up with your child’s social worker to work together to bridge the gap between you and the birth family. With a number of foster placements, reunification is the main goal – so your foster care training during your application process, and the support from your IFA and social worker, will help you navigate this situation to the best of your ability. 

3. Challenging behaviour

Sometimes, as they may have been through difficult and traumatic experiences in their life, foster children can exhibit challenging behaviour. This could be displayed at home to you as foster parents, or it could be shown during an authoritative setting, such as school.

Solution: with our unwavering support, we can help you implement foster child behaviour management strategies. Each foster child is different, and has a different background and story – which is why we work closely with you and your foster placement every step of the way to make sure they feel understood, that their feelings are valid and they are cared for in a safe environment.

4. Encouraging education

It’s often common that foster children have not been correctly exposed to educational environments, for example, not being actively encouraged to stay on top of their studies by their biological families. Therefore, some foster children struggle with the prospect of school. This can refer to the routine of going to school every day, being expected to listen and learn for 6 hours a day or so, and doing their homework after school. If a child hasn’t been continually exposed to that sort of environment, they may resist the authority, which could lead to bad grades, bullying and even truancy.

Solution: as a foster parent, it’s your responsibility to understand how to manage any issues with education – which is where we can provide tips on supporting foster children’s education, encouragement to read, and routines and tips to prepare them for secondary school.

5. Reunification

Although this is often the main goal in a foster care placement, the prospect of reunification can be difficult for foster parents. Over time, especially on long term foster placements, you’ll likely grow and connection and bond with your foster child – and you may even feel like they are one of your own children. Foster placements ending can be a tricky situation to navigate, especially when attachments have been formed.

Solution: with our tips on reunification and unparalleled support here at Capstone Foster Care, we’ll ensure that you’re not only prepared for this important step of the process, but you’re equipped with your own coping mechanisms throughout.

Challenges of being a foster child

However, although foster parents can experience their share of challenges during a placement, the foster child themselves also has issues to deal with – which should be managed appropriately by the foster family.

6. Missing their family

Despite everything they might have been through, the biological family that have been removed from the child’s care are still their family – so the child may yearn for them, or not understand why they can’t live with them any longer. As a foster parent, it’s your job to protect them from their past traumas and ensure they are aware of the rules and boundaries set in place for their family.

Tips: to help them understand or cope with missing their birth parents, you could encourage them to write letters, draw pictures or create any sort of artwork for them for them to give at their next visit. This way, they’ll feel they have some level of connection to them in between pre-arranged visits.

7. Making strong connections

Whether this is with their foster family or with friends and peers at school, foster children may find it harder to create strong bonds with people. This could be due to them believing that their situation is only temporary, or to them suffering with the effects of their traumatic or challenging past, which could be leading to mental health conditions, such as social anxiety.

Tip: supporting your child with any mental health challenges they may face is an integral part of being their foster parent. It’s also important to teach them how to develop strong bonds with people – for example, enrolling them in an after-school club, or sport, to develop their skills in something they’re passionate about, is a great way to meet friends and gain common interests.

8. Prospect of reunification

While reunification is often one of the main goals for a lot of foster placements, it can come with mixed emotions. For example, if the foster child has been enjoying their life without their parents, that presents its challenges – as they may not be as excited about the prospect of reunification, or find it daunting or scary. Some children may also desire it too soon, and yearn for it constantly, which can also present problems.

Tips: there are a number of tips to support reunification, but some of the most useful include speaking positively about the foster child’s family, building relationships with the biological family, keeping lines of communication open between your and your foster child, and preparing them from the off-set what this will feel like.

Now you’re clued up on the most common foster care problems and solutions of how to overcome these challenges, you may be ready to apply for fostering. Our friendly team are always available for information and advice – get in touch with us today.

Thinking of fostering?

If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.

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