Foster carers like so many others may have a pet in their household – or possibly more than one.
This is not surprising since we regard ourselves as a nation of animal lovers. One has only to think of that famous lyric penned by that most quintessential of Englishman, Noel Coward, “Mad dogs and Englishmen Go out in the midday sun” to get some idea of the part pets do play in our lives. Coward was an extraordinary polymath: actor, dramatist, writer, director, lyricist, wit and raconteur and would certainly recognise our national obsession continues apace. What has this to do with fostering? The link is simple. The quality that defines a foster carer is their ability to care. Training is important, but no one would consider fostering unless they regarded themselves as a caring person. The key responsibility of any foster care service provider when they are screening an applicant is to determine their prime motivation is to care. So we are always looking for genuinely caring individuals. A responsible pet owner, it may reasonably be assumed, will have a caring disposition – so off to a good start. And interestingly, there is information coming through that suggest that owning a pet can make you a more caring person.
It’s been discovered in America by a research team that young adults who have bonded with their pets have a greater sense of connection with their communities. And they tend to feel more connected in their relationships. Megan Mueller is a developmental psychologist working at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She interviewed over five hundred people aged between eighteen to twenty-six about their attitudes and level of ‘pet interaction’. The researchers were then able to measure characteristics such as caring, competence, happiness and confidence. Key characteristics for foster carers. The findings were published in the journal ‘Applied Developmental Science’. They found that “an increased level of attachment to a pet corresponded with higher levels of confidence, empathy and the ability to connect with people.”
Dr Mueller stated –
“Our findings suggest that it may not be whether an animal is present in an individual’s life that is most significant but rather the quality of that relationship. We can’t draw causal links with this study but it is a promising starting point to better understanding the role of animals in our lives, especially when we are young.”
Caring for a pet can help children develop empathy for others. Foster carers should note pets can help youngsters with their learning. Dogs have been used as a form of therapy in schools assisting developmentally challenged children to learn. There’s even research demonstrating that children reluctant to read out loud are happy to do so to if they can read to an animal. A great way to develop literacy skills – see https://nlp4kids.org/5-ways-to-improve-literacy-in-children/
Call 020 8427 3355 or use our National Line 0330 311 to become a foster carer.
We offer professional career choices: train to foster siblings, or foster teenagers or parent children with complex needs as a therapeutic foster carer. Rainbow has been established for over twenty years and been rated ‘Outstanding’ in all areas by Ofsted.
We have news and general information about fostering on our website http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/news/ Blog recommendation http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/therapeutic-foster-care-6/