Having a mental health condition does not automatically mean you are unable to become a foster parent. Learn more from our guide on foster care and mental health FAQs, what happens if you develop a mental health condition during a placement and looking after children with mental health challenges.
Just like your physical health, if you suffer from mental health conditions, this will be considered when applying to foster – alongside your general health. This will also apply to if you suffer from any long-term health conditions.
As part of the fostering assessment process, a medical report is always sought. Having a mental health issue does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster carer, however certain attributes should be considered. For example, this might be the emotional effects that fostering may have on your mental health. It’s important to note that each individual case will be assessed differently.
If you have previous medical history of suffering from any mental health issues, this is not a deciding factor in whether or not you can become a foster parent. As with all aspects of your life, this will be considered during the application process – and will be assessed to ensure that the challenges that fostering can bring does not affect your mental health.
As part of this assessment, social workers and your independent fostering agency will look to determine the severity of said mental health condition, and identify if this would likely impact potential foster children in your care. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Again, if you are taking medication for a mental health condition, this does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster parent. As part of the medical report, your medication will naturally be discussed in the fostering assessment – and it may be that as long as you keep taking your medication/consult with your doctor if you are thinking of lowering the dosage, this should be a component to being able to foster.
Ensuring that any medication is out of reach of foster children (and biological) is also important – but this is not solely applicable to mental health issues, as it is applicable to any form of medication, tablets or pills.
Sometimes, pairing a foster child with a foster parent who has previously shared similar mental health challenges can be beneficial. This is because the foster parent may have shared similar experiences themselves, and understands this more than a foster parent who hasn’t – meaning they can share a level of relatability and offer more detailed help and support to the child.
However, in other circumstances, pairing a child with mental health challenges with a foster parent who either has them currently, or used to experience them, could be triggering for both parts of this relationship. For a foster parent, seeing a child go through what it assumed a tricky time for them could bring back negative feelings and cause them to regress in their progress.
In short, the answer is yes – but this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Of course, unforeseen health issues – both physical and mental – are not components that can be determined when your eligibility to become a foster carer is being assessed. That’s why it’s generally thought that if there is a significant change to your life e.g., illness, death in the family, divorce, this would cause your position as a foster carer to be assessed.
If it was believed that a mental health challenge presented itself in a way that would be a) harmful to you, the foster parent or b) harmful to the child, it’s likely the child would be removed from your care until relevant measures are put into place. Social workers and your independent fostering agency would work alongside you and your doctor in order to put a treatment plan in place and ensure the welfare of both you and the foster child were at the forefront.
Here at Capstone, we pride ourselves on our unparalleled fostering support system – we offer a 24/7 fostering support service, meaning you can talk to professionals as well as like-minded foster parents who may have experienced what you’re going through. Learn more about our fostering support services now.
If you have any questions about fostering with mental health issues, or you want to know more about supporting children with mental health challenges, our friendly team are always on hand. Contact us today.
If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
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