Foster carers should know there are benefits to having pets 1

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Foster carers should know there are benefits to having pets 1

Foster carers the benefits of pets

Foster carers and benefits of pets

Foster care agencies are likely to have carers that have pets in their homes. Just like any other family, a fair number of fostering families keep pets. Applicants wanting to become foster carers will be asked if they own pets as part of the recruitment process. It’s important to list all pets of all types that are in the home. All will be assessed in terms of any potential risk they may present.

Obviously the risk posed by a goldfish is going to be negligible. Some animals; not just dogs and cats, bite. Rabbits, for example, bite. Understandably, most people will be thinking about dogs when it comes to the issue of pet ownership and fostering. Where dogs are concerned, Local Authorities will prohibit a foster child being accommodated in a home that has any breed of dog that is listed in the Dangerous Dogs Acts 1991/1997, or a household that has more than three dogs.

Foster carers may need to get a report on a pet. 

Pets in the foster home will be taken into account during the Health and Safety Inspection which is part of the assessment process. In certain circumstances, a report may be requested from a vet to testify to the temperament of an animal. All foster carers need to be aware that they have an ongoing responsibility to ensure the safety of children in their care in relation to animals in the home. In some cases, a family may want to introduce an animal into the home when a foster child is already there. If this is the case, the fostering service provider must always be informed as a risk assessment will be needed. A point worth making here is that if acquiring a dog from a rescue centre – such as Battersea Dogs Home – careful consideration is necessary. Dogs that have been neglected, abandoned or mistreated could have ingrained patterns of behaviour that are hard to anticipate. The precautionary principle should always be applied as the safety of the foster child will always be paramount. Again, taking the advice of a vet will be required and the fostering service provider will always have the final say. Do your research! There is a lot of useful information on caring for a dog at

There are a number of issues relating to pets when fostering. Having an animal is a responsibility. This means making sure that they are looked after properly. Ensuring they are fed properly and; in the case of dogs, exercised regularly is essential. Dogs have to be inoculated against certain diseases and routinely wormed. Children can suffer from allergic reactions to pets. This means it is important to remove fur from carpets and furniture. 

The first thing to say is having animals in a foster home can certainly be of benefit. They can have a therapeutic effect on youngsters. It is very important to have knowledge of the history of a pet as well as the foster child. Only then can it be determined if the experience will be a positive one. Foster carers need to be aware that a child may have a lot of anger and frustration and this can be directed at an animal. It’s also true that an animal can be a great source of reassurance and stability for a child whose own past may have been uncertain and unstable. Dogs can be extremely loving and faithful. For a child who has been neglected, the affection and attention a dog can show can be extremely comforting.  Animals are accepting and don’t make judgements – as we humans do. If a child can have the opportunity to develop a relationship with an animal this can have a positive effect on their confidence and emotional wellbeing.

Why pets can be good for children.

  • Children learn responsibility and a sense of commitment if they have jobs such as walking a dog or cleaning out a hamster cage.
  • Animals can help children to learn. Dogs, mainly, have a therapeutic effect on children with developmental problems. 
  • Researchers have found that young children who may be unwilling to read out aloud felt more confident reading to an animal as they would not be judged.
  • Pets are a source of comforts and security.
  • Pets promote communication: a pet is usually a source of fun and discussion within a family. Walking, grooming and feeding a dog, for example, are activities that can be shared and talked about.
  • Exercise: there is a lot of concern that children are not physically activity enough. Obesity is becoming a real long-term problem. Far too many youngsters are overweight. Everyone in a family will benefit from regularly ‘walking the dog’.
  • Physiological benefits: studies have found that the action of stroking pet can actually lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
  • Having a pet can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Animals are great companions.
  • There is now research which indicates that children – and this will include foster children -who grow up with pets are likely to have stronger immune systems. This can reduce the chance of them developing childhood asthma or other allergies. The health psychologist June McNicholas of the University of Warwick in conjunction with the drug company Novartis Animal Health ran tests on the saliva of 138 children between the ages of four and eleven for IgA antibodies. The results highlighted that children who lived in homes with pets were better able to fend off infections like cold and flu.
  • Fun: pets can be great fun. Whatever they might be – dogs, cats, hamsters – having a pet is always likely to bring an interesting dimension to a family household. 

Could you give a child a chance with Rainbow Fostering?

The most important thing about becoming a foster parent is your ability and commitment to care for a child or young person. This is what really matters. You can become a foster carer regardless of your ethnicity, religion, marital status, sexuality, gender, or whether you are renting, a homeowner a parent or a non-parent. 

You can be confident that our experienced and knowledgeable team will offer you support and guidance at every step of the way to your fostering with us. Talk to us right now on 020 8427 3355 or 0330 311 2845. Ofsted has rated Rainbow as ‘Outstanding’ in all areas. This means that you can have complete confidence in the training and support we will give you throughout your fostering career. We will also make sure that you have every opportunity to develop your professional skills. 

Because fostering is all about the care of vulnerable children and young people, it should come as no surprise that the application process is a thorough one. There are six stages to complete to become an ‘Approved’ foster carer. the average time it takes is around four months. When you first get in touch, we’ll spend time having an informal chat. This is so you can learn more about Rainbow – and we can get to know a little about you and your motivations to foster. We’ll answer any questions you might have and help you – as well as your family – to decide if fostering is for you.

Rainbow is a long-established fostering agency – now over twenty years. There is an urgent shortage of foster families across the country. We now want to attract applicants in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire. If you think you can brighten up a child’s world, call now and make a completely new future!

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