There is often a common misconception that you won’t be able to foster if you have pets. This is a myth – and our guide explains in more detail about fostering with pets, and the positive effects pets can have on foster children.
Fostering with pets is definitely possible, and pets can also be seen as a positive influence to promote positive behaviour to children in care. However, to foster with pets, you must adhere to a set of simple guidelines set out by the British Association for Fostering & Adoption:
· Pets are kept under control
· Pets are healthy e.g. regularly checked at the vets
· Gardens are free from pet urine and excrement
· Feeding bowls and litter trays are not within reach of children
· Carpets and furniture are kept free of pet hair
As every child is different, this also applies to animals, too. That’s why it’s important to understand that the pets of a foster family will also need to be assessed during the fostering assessment process. This will take into account attributes such as:
· The temperament of the pet
· The pet’s behaviour
· The pet’s ability to adapt to strangers in their home
· Whether the child has any allergies or fears of certain pets
It’s also important to consider the safety of your pets when fostering. Sometimes, the children in your care may have come from very troubling backgrounds, which can lead them to exhibit types of behavioural or social problems. Boundaries will need to be established early in a household with pets – as the child may not have lived with pets before, and may not be sure how to act with them.
Of course, there are some animals which are strongly prohibited from being around young children in foster care. These are animals which are known to have injured or killed a child. Applications for fostering with pets will not be considered for anyone that owns a breed of dog that is registered or required to be registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991/1997. This includes Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brazillieros and Dogo Aregentines.
FosterTalk have recently published an article which explains that fostering with pets can be extremely beneficial for children or young people in care. It goes on to say 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.”
It’s thought that animals, especially dogs, can be the common ground for opening lines of communication within the foster family home. The article continues to suggest that, in dogs especially, it’s thought that animals can aid the attachment behaviour of children by teaching them how to form secure and strong relationships.
If you’re interested in fostering and you have a pet, this will be notified on your initial Form F Assessment, as well as at subsequent foster carer reviews to follow. However, please also inform your social worker if you have any pets. For any further information on if you can foster with pets, please get in touch with our team of experts now, or learn more about how to apply to become a foster carer.