Foster Carer Careers

In an ideal world, all biological parents would be able to care for their children. As this is not the case, there is a big call for foster carers in the UK. While many people do not grow up considering foster care to be their calling, some people have a natural aptitude for providing a warm and loving home for children of all ages who need it.

Become a Foster Carer

Is foster caring really a job?

Although you will be the child in question\’s primary caregiver, foster caring is a job of sorts. For the duration of the child\’s stay with you, the local authorities will remain responsible for them. You are there to care for their emotional needs, around the clock.

While many associate foster caring with children permanently staying in their home, there are many different forms available. This includes both respite and emergency care, which are short-term solutions.

Like any job, foster caring comes with a weekly minimum payment. This rises on a yearly basis, and you also \’earn\’ more when the child gets older. In addition, you may get more from your local authority depending on demand, the child\’s unique needs, and you possessing a specific set of skills.

How do you become a foster carer?

Anybody can apply to become a foster carer, with his or her local council. However, there is a strict review process that lasts for around six months. During this process, the local council will:

  • Check the suitability of you and your home. In most cases, children need their own rooms.
  • They will also examine other people living in your household, especially if they are adults.
  • Your criminal background will be checked. While minor offences like speeding are unlikely to be a problem, sexual offences, violent offences, and major drug offences are likely to exclude you altogether.
  • Most local authorities and charities will ask for references. This can be from employers or educators, or from a well-respected member of the community, such as a local religious leader.

What types of foster care can you consider?

In many cases, foster carers take on long-term arrangements. Some children may leave their biological parents\’ home, but don\’t want or need adoptive parents. When this happens, they stay with foster carers until they reach adulthood. Other types of foster care include:

  • Emergency care: For example, if a parent has to go into hospital, has left the country, or have been sent to prison. • Short-term care: Short-term arrangements last for a few weeks while the local authority makes decisions about the child\’s future.
  • Respite care: Parents with disabled children sometimes use respite care to get a break.
  • Remand: Young people are sometimes referred to foster care by the court.
  • Therapeutic: If you have specialist skills, you can care for children with challenging behaviour.
  • Kinship: Family members and close friends often care for children when their parents cannot, but get the same support as other foster carers.

For the duration of a child staying with you, you receive the support of the local council and an appointed social worker. Financial remuneration depends on where you live in the country, as well as other factors.

Foster Carer Training

Although many foster carers have experience raising their own children, training is essential. Unlike when you raise your own children, external parties are involved. In addition, there may be emotional strains you do not anticipate. In most cases, foster carers undergo preparation training, as well as ongoing reviews.

Foster Carer Training

How are foster carers trained?

It’s important to note that the majority of councils and organisations now require you to engage in preparation training before you are even considered suitable to be a foster carer. How each council trains you may also vary. However, you are likely to cover issues like:

  • Helping fostered children maintain a connection with their birth parents. Many birth parents wish to retain contact with their foster children and some anticipate welcoming them back to the family home.
  • Dealing with ‘difficult’ behaviour. Depending on the age of the child, leaving the family home can be a traumatic experience. Some also come from challenging circumstances. Knowing how to deal with the way children respond to this is essential.
  • Liaising with local educational authorities. Ensuring the children in your care are able to continue with their education is an important issue. In addition, it’s your responsibility to make sure their educators are aware of the different challenges the children in your care may pose.

Many councils now give prospective foster carers similar training to social workers. While you won’t be expected to cover the same depth of knowledge as social workers, the training you undergo has to align with the same approach social workers take. For example, the social worker appointed to your fostered child will take the same approach to maintaining birth family relations as you. Achieving this level of consistency is essential for making sure the children in your care thrive.

Is ongoing training always necessary?

As the children in your care are still a responsibility of the local council, ongoing training is a process that ensures you’re doing what’s best for the child. In addition, it gives the council the chance to assess the progress of its practices.

Ongoing training isn’t always guaranteed. Usually, a social worker reviews your progress and the child’s progress, then they determine whether more training is necessary. For the duration of the child’s time with you, a social worker is available to provide support.

Many councils will set benchmarks that you must meet within 12 to 18 months of beginning your time as a foster carer. This makes the review process essential.

Specialist areas of training

Foster caring presents niche situations from time-to-time, and councils often train you to deal with them. For example, there’s additional training available for men who foster in some areas. You may also be trained on how to deal with allegations of assault and abuse from children. Depending on where you live, you may be trained to NVQ Level 3 to manage your responsibilities as a foster carer. Therefore, all these training processes don’t just benefit the children in your care, they help you too.

Foster Carer the Role

A great foster care is able to nurture, support, and cherish the child in their care. Depending on the type of arrangement you opt for, this can mean having a child for a few days, or you could be supporting them right through to adulthood. Either way, it isn’t just going to involve you and the child. You’ll be liaising with other people and agencies, which can include their birth families, local schools, social workers, and the local council.

Foster Carer Jobs

The typical length of a foster placement

Around 40% of foster placements last for 6 months. Either side of this there is the placements that last for a few days, as well as those that go on for years.

How long the child spends with you depends on a number of factors. Some need emergency care while a parent is hospitalized or in custody. Others spend a few months away from the family home because of court proceedings or while the local authorities determine whether another family member can care for them. In a few cases, birth families are unable to take care of their children altogether, which means you care for them until they’re adults.

You do get a say in how long arrangements last. When you apply to be a foster carer, you can state whether you’re available for emergency care, or whether you’d like to care for children for longer.

What do you do as a foster carer?

If you’ve ever had children, you’ll already know what caring for them involves. As a foster carer, this is more intense. Depending on the background your foster children come from, they may be more ‘difficult’ to care for. As a foster carer, you may find you’re responsible for:

  • Helping the child stay in contact with their birth family. There may be any number of reasons why they cannot live with them. From drugs through to domestic violence, several factors can make it unsafe for a child to live in their birth family’s home. While social workers support their families in rectifying this, you help them stay in touch so that the transition is as smooth as it can be.
  • You’re also responsible for making sure they get emotional support. Some may come under psychological care, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that continues until their GP, social worker, or school decides it’s no longer needed.
  • Making sure they’re able to access the same education as other children is essential. Teachers need to be made aware of changes in their lives, and whether they’re experiencing emotional difficulties. Doing this ensures they receive the right level of support while learning.

Do foster carers receive support?

Fortunately, foster carers do receive support. This usually comes in the form of a social worker, as well as training from the local council. You may find that you’re reviewed every so often to ensure that everything is running as smoothly as it can.

If you’re worried about whether you can meet the demands of being a foster carer, do remember a rigorous process will determine whether you can proceed in the first place.