Yes – make no mistake about it, fostering is a career. Choosing fostering as a career allows you the opportunity to work in a field where you can directly change a child’s life for the better. And for many people, fostering is life-changing - not just for the child in care, but for the carer, too. If you’re wondering if you can work and foster, our detailed guide answers all your fostering career questions.
Since the 31st March 2018, the number of approved fostering households in England has decreased by 4%. Similarly, the number of applications for mainstream fostering has fallen from 10,520 in 2018 to 8,280 in 2022. So, there is a huge demand for foster carers and fostering homes.
For context, out of the 12 million children living in England just over 400,000 (3%) are in the social care system at any one time. More than 75,000 of these children are children in care and 55,000 are in foster homes – so there are countless career opportunities for foster carers.
If you have worked in the care sector or services industries, you might have already considered fostering as a career. However, you do not need any experience to become a foster parent. There are a wide range of professions - such as teaching, nursing, and emergency services - that also provide skills that can enhance your ability to foster.
In short, it depends on your unique set of circumstances. For example, if you’re single, fostering alongside your existing career would be incredibly difficult because fostering is a full-time job in itself. However, some fostering arrangements involve a predetermined period of time. In this situation, you could work a full-time job separate from your foster care responsibilities. Why? Because a respite foster carer will know in advance when their fostering services are required and can schedule their work accordingly.
Alternatively, if you’re fostering as a couple, you can often exercise a bit more flexibility when it comes to working whilst fostering. For example, one parent could ensure they’re available to meet the child’s needs whilst the other is working outside of the home.
Regardless of your employment status, the reality is that when you become a foster carer, your first priority is your foster child. So, when people ask “can fostering be a full-time job?”, the answer is most definitely, yes – it is a 24/7 responsibility. With that said, our team at Capstone Foster Care are always willing to discuss your individual circumstances.
Whilst fostering isn’t about the pay, being a foster parent is a job, so our carer’s are renumerated to reflect that. Learn how much foster carers get paid for offering stability and security to a foster child.
The secret to success in any job is to love what you do. So, if you’re considering a career in foster care, take some time to self-reflect before completing an enquiry form Capstone, your local authority, or any other independent fostering agency.
Talk to the people who know you best - your family, friends - and ask them what they think about you starting a career in foster care. Their opinions and perspective will give you an honest point of departure for thinking about your suitability to foster.
Additionally, our team our Capstone Foster Care have developed a list of desirable characteristics for a foster carer. Here is what we - and many other agencies - have learned.
Communication – you need to have strong communication skills. You must be able to communicate with the child in care with patience and empathy. You must listen to really hear what the child is trying to tell you. You will also need to communicate with the foster agency in a clear and pertinent manner. Communication is a two-way street and part of good communication is the ability to listen and hear what is really being said.
Cooperation – because working as a foster parent involves a team of people who are involved in the child’s life. A large part of your job will require you to cooperate with others. You are the person on the front line, interacting with the child on a daily and ongoing basis, you are one component of the entire process. Your cooperation involves taking advice from, and providing proper feedback to, the rest of the team.
Compassion – another essential quality is compassion. The children and young people in your care may have been through trust-shattering experiences, which may influence their behaviour. Compassion gives you the ability to understand their feelings and reactions, which is part of the fostering process. Your compassion must extend to understanding the turmoil the child who has come into your home has been through. The child might reject your attempts at making your home a safe refuge.
Here at Capstone, we have developed our own bespoke therapeutic training program to help provide enhanced support and resources. This will help you to learn more about the foster child’s emotional state and circumstances which will help you to further develop your understanding and compassion for your foster child.
Understanding space – you need to have a good understanding of your home and family life. Saying you have enough physical space for a troubled child in your home is one thing. Understanding the huge amount of emotional space a child could need if he or she has been through a difficult time is another. Do you understand how much your entire family accepts the idea of opening up your home to a new person? How dedicated they are to being a foster family?
Patience – last, but not least, you need patience. Fostering is a full time, day and night job. We all get tired and feel overwhelmed. You must have the inner strength and resources to be patient when you are tired and overwhelmed. Remember, if this ever happens, you are part of a team.
For some people, these skills are a natural part of their personality - others may need to work on them. For example, if you have looked after children before, you may have a stronger sense of the commitment and energy that is required to rasie a child.
No, you don’t need prior experience working with children. Our training and support will ensure you have all the necessary skills and resources to start a successful career in fostering. Our foster care training courses are delivered by professionals and are always ongoing. There are a variety of courses available alongside our mandatory core training 'Skills to Foster', to equip you with all the information you may need.
Firstly, you must answer the question - do you have a spare room? If you do, the next step is to complete an enquiry form and begin discussing your foster care application with a member of our team.
A lot of people are afraid to take this step because they eliminate themselves for reasons that don’t matter at all. Find out the foster care requirements to see if you qualify for starting your foster care career today.
If you have questions or concerns regarding foster care careers that have not been answered here, get in touch with Capstone Foster Care. We are eager to talk to you and answer your questions.
If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.