Foster carers look after children and young people who are not able to live in their own homes.
38 to 40 variable (evenings / weekends / bank holidays at short notice)
Where to start
You can get into this role through:
a college coursespecialist courses run by training organisations
You could prepare for foster care work by taking a college qualification, though this is not essential. Courses include:
- Level 1 Award in Introduction to Health, Social Care and Children's and Young People's Settings
- Level 2 Award in Safeguarding and Protecting Children and Young People
- Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People's Workforce
You'll usually need 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a Level 1 course. You'll neeed 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a Level 2 course.
You could become a foster carer by contacting your local council fostering service. You can also foster through independent agencies.
You would go through a preparation and assessment programme to make sure you could meet the needs of each child or young person placed with you.
During a preparation programme you would:
Fostering service providers will usually organise training to fit in with people who are working during the week, so this may take place in the evening or at weekends.
Becoming a foster carer is open to you, whatever your marital status, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
- do pre-approval training, learn skills and get ready for fostering
- attend groups to learn about the needs of children coming into foster care
- have visits to your home by a social worker
Having childcare experience of either working with, or caring for children, including your own or relatives' children can be useful.
Your whole family will be involved in fostering, so it's important that everyone is clear about what is involved.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- sensitivity and understanding
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well with others
- to be flexible and open to change
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to understand people’s reactions
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and Requirements
You'll need to:
- be over 21 years of age
- pass enhanced background checks
You'll also need:
Following checks, your social worker would prepare a report that's presented to an independent fostering panel to decide whether you can become a foster carer.
- a spare bedroom for each child
- the ability to foster full-time - though there may be some exceptions to this
If there are 2 adults in your household who want to become foster parents, you'll both be expected to pass the relevant assessments.
What you’ll do
In this role you could:
- welcome a child or young person to be part of your family
- give day-to-day care to meet physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs
- set suitable boundaries for behaviour
- help with school work and promote a positive attitude to education
- keep young people safe from harm and abuse
- work with other professionals
- put forward the views of young people in your care, even if you disagree with them
- involve parents where possible
- help the young person move on, in a positive way, to their next setting
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could set up your own fostering agency.