I can fosterYour own children have grown up… and the house feels a little, well, empty. You are approaching retirement – does that mean you’re too old to foster?

The answer is an emphatic – NO! By law, there is no upper age limit to those who want to foster looked after children and young people; in fact, many foster carers begin fostering later in life once their own children fly the nest, bringing with them a wealth of experience.

Older foster carers bring stability, experience, consistency and life skills along with a safe and secure home environment. Young people can benefit greatly from this calming, steadying influence.

Grandparents who take on the role of foster carers are often good at understanding the need to maintain a relationship with the child’s birth family members. This can be very important for a child’s sense of security, identity, and belonging.

Practical Matters

No matter what age you are or experience you have, you must be in good health and be physically able to undertake the care of children in your home.

All potential foster carers, no matter what age, will be asked about personal health and energy in relation to how they would be able to care for a child or young person. For example, the physical holding and carrying of babies or running around after toddlers might not, for some, be possible.

Age will also be a factor when matching younger children in permanent or long-term placements: How old a foster carer will be when a child reaches 18 or 21 will obviously form a key part of the process of matching child and carer.

Many foster carers who are older will opt for looking after an older child and that can work very well. Older children and teenagers, although they will have different behavioural challenges, will usually need less physical and direct care. They will, however, need more guidance and advice to help them make the right choices in life.

Proof that you are never too old

One older foster carer was approved to foster aged 58 and has never looked back. She currently fosters three young people on a short-term basis – one is 14, and the other two are 16. She has a wonderfully close family of her own with four children, 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Two of the young people she has fostered are living nearby and remain a big part of her family. The young people that have been fostered have all benefited from being part of her extended family.

Having many young people around has the effect of keeping the older foster carer young in body, mind and spirit. As this carer says “It’s not about age – it’s about what you feel you are called to do in life. As they say you are only ever as young as you feel!”

If you want to find out more about fostering give us a call for a friendly chat on 01440 732010, email us at [email protected] or click here to message us.