However, this is simply a myth – having pets does not prevent you from fostering at all. In fact, having pets can be seen as a positive influence, as they can be an asset to a foster family and promote positive behaviour. Learn more about fostering with pets from our detailed guide.
Fostering with pets is possible, as long as you adhere to some simple guidelines. In line with BAAF (British Association for Fostering & Adoption) guidelines, Capstone Foster Care have a duty to ensure that their our foster carers know about, and adhere to, the following:
Of course, every animal is different – and every child is different. So, it’s important to understand that, as well as the foster family, the pets will also have to be assessed too, to be able to bring a foster child into an environment with animals. The pet assessment process will take into account factors such as the animal’s temperament, their behaviour and their ability to adapt to strangers in their home.
The child’s needs will also have to be taken into account when considering fostering with pets. It might be that a child is allergic to cats or has a strong fear of dogs – in which case, it will be unlikely that this child would be assigned to you on a foster placement.
When considering fostering with pets, it’s also important to consider the safety of your pet. Sometimes children in foster care can come from very troubling backgrounds, hence leading them to develop certain behavioural or social problems. It might be that they’ve never lived with pets before, and they aren’t sure of how to act with them – so boundaries will need to be established early on between how the child can interact with your pet.
FosterTalk have put together an article which explains that, actually, fostering with pets can be extremely beneficial for young children in care. This research highlights that: “Animals can perform a positive role in the wellbeing and outcomes for children in care. They can aid the child to explore companionship, affection, care and have a positive therapeutic effect for children.”
The article continues to explain that pets and animals can also be the common ground for opening communication lines between children and the existing foster family. In dogs especially, it’s thought that animals can aid the attachment behaviour of children by teaching them how to form strong and secure relationships.
On rare occasions, a foster child may bring a pet with them into care. This pet can be seen as a comfort blanket and consistency for the child, so it is recommended that foster carers welcome this pet into their home as they would do the child.
If you have a pet of any kind, this will be notified on your initial Form F assessment and at subsequent foster carers reviews – however, please also inform your social worker if you have any pets. You will also be asked in your initial fostering process whether you are willing to foster animals that come with foster children, too.