Fostering as a couple has many benefits, such as a shared responsibility of caring for the child or young person, support from one another during challenging situations and a shared experience of the fostering process. However, despite taking on this journey together, sometimes, foster parents can find themselves in a position where they want to file for a divorce, or separate. So, what happens if foster parents divorce to the child in care, and the foster care process itself?
At any time during a foster care placement, if a ‘significant change’ happens within the family home, this then requires a re-evaluation on the fostering situation. This could be many things, such as a death in the family, the opportunity of relocation or, as specified above, separation or divorce of the foster parents.
Foster parents should report ‘significant changes’ to their social worker – including that they wish to divorce or separate from one another. An assessment of the situation and the foster carers’ approval will need to be presented to the Fostering Panel. The social worker will complete an interim report which will be presented to the Fostering Panel.
A professionals meeting will also be organised, to discuss if it is practical for the children/young people to remain with one of the foster carers. If this is the case, a review of what additional support will be required by the household and children in foster care. The foster carer who has left the family home will be encouraged to offer their resignation unless they desire to be assessed as a foster carer in their own right.
There will be regular reviews to ensure that the remaining foster carer has the support to continue to ensure that the needs of the child/ren are still being met.
A new fostering assessment will need to be completed and presented to Panel to reflect that the carer(s) are now fostering as a single person.
As a fostering service, our main priority is to ensure that there is a focus on the carer’s ability to continue fostering. This refers to their ability to meet fostering standards, and meet the needs of the children post their separation – and we help do this by offering extensive support to the carers through this uncertain time.
However, it should be noted that serious consideration will be given by both the social workers and the fostering agency to determine whether the placement is able to continue – especially if one of the foster parents is leaving the family home. During this time, we’re aware how uncertain and unclear the situation may be for foster parents who are separating – so we handle everything sensitively and offer as much support as possible.