Calling all Grandparents... Are you too old to be a foster carer?

Grandparents who foster

There comes a time naturally when our own children have grown up... but does that mean we're too old to care for children and young people at all?

The answer is a resounding no. Legally there are no upper age limits to foster looked after children and young people. In fact many people come to fostering a little later in life after their own children have grown up, left home and even become parents themselves.

Older foster carers can often bring considerable experience, stability, consistency and life skills to fostering, alongside a safe and secure home environment. Young people can benefit greatly from this calming, steadying influence.

Grandparents who become foster carers can often also understand the need to maintain relationships with birth family members, which can be important for children’s sense of identity, security and belonging.

Practical considerations

Irrespective of age and experience, to be a foster carer you must be in good health and physically able to take care of children in your own home.

As with all applicants, we would discuss personal health and vitality with you, in relation to caring for a child or young person. For example, the physical nature of holding and carrying babies or chasing after toddlers may not be a day-to-day possibility.

Age is also a factor when matching younger children for long-term or permanent placements: How old you will be when the child reaches 18 or 21 obviously forms a key part of the initial matching process.

Many older foster carers will opt to look after an older child which can work very well. Older children and teenagers, despite having different behavioural challenges, may require less physical and direct care but need more guidance and advice about making the right life choices.

Proof you're never too old

Daphne has been a Kasper foster carer for eight years. She was approved to foster with the Agency aged 58, and has never looked back, "Age doesn't worry me, and it didn't worry my parents either. I wanted to give young people a better life, and I felt inside that I really wanted to help."

Daphne currently fosters two young people on a short term and a respite basis - one is 14, and the other 16. She also has a wonderfully close, growing family of her own including five birth children, 26 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren (with more on the way!)

Three young people she previously fostered now live nearby, and remain a big part of the family. It's clear that Daphne is a loving, caring role model - but what motivated her to foster in the first place?

"You have to want to do it, and for the right reasons. Spare rooms and time are not what it's about - to foster, you need an over-riding mentality and devotion to love and care for others. Whatever your life, job or house situation, you need this quality first and foremost."

Calling in life

The young people Daphne has fostered have all benefitted from having her extended family in their lives. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren have been fantastic role models for the young people she has looked after. From their strong school and work ethics, through to their good manners and style tips...

And of course, having so many young people around has kept her young in mind, body and spirit. So what would Daphne say to any grandparents thinking about becoming foster parents? "It's not about your age - it's about your calling in life. You're only ever as young as you feel!"

If you're thinking about becoming a foster carer, you can talk to our friendly, helpful team at Kasper. We're here to answer any questions you may have, before deciding whether fostering is right for you. Get in touch on 01227 275985 for an informal chat.