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. But can you work and foster if you choose to become a foster carer? Our detailed guide answers all your fostering career questions.
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 fostering homes.
Although the number of approved fostering places has increased by 1% since 31 March 2018, the number of children entering foster care has increased at a faster pace (3%). This means that there were fewer places available for children to be placed in fostering homes. This is because there is a shortage of foster carers.
If you have worked in the care sector or services industries, you might have already thought about fostering. However, you do not need to have this type of experience to become a foster carer.
People have become foster carers with backgrounds from many different professions. There is a wide range of professions, such as teaching, nursing, and emergency service, like the police, that provide the skillsets that can enhance your ability to foster. But that’s not to say that office workers for instance, cannot make great foster carers too!
Wondering if you can work and foster? If you’re still working at your existing job but want to foster, it depends what situation you’re in regarding whether you’re with a partner or not. In short, if you are single, you cannot work and foster. Fostering is a full-time job. But, at Capstone Foster Care, we are willing to discuss the circumstances. Some fostering arrangements involve a predetermined period of time. In this type of situation, you could work at a full-time job separate from your foster care responsibilities. A respite foster carer will know in advance when their fostering services are required and can schedule their work accordingly.
However, when you’re fostering as a couple, you generally have more flexibility when it comes to working while fostering. One parent could always be available for the child’s needs while the other one is at work outside the home. A single parent who works full time is apt to have difficulty fostering and working.
The reality is that when you become a foster carer, your first responsibility is to the child in care and this is a 24/7 responsibility. So, when people ask “can fostering be a full-time job?” – the answer is most definitely, yes.
Fostering is a career and often, foster carers are reluctant to jeopardise the stability and security of the home they offer to a foster child by being distracted by another job. While foster carers are paid a professional fee for a professional task, and fostering can be considered as a career, fostering is not first and foremost about the pay. Learn more about if you can work and foster today from our helpful guide.
The secret to success in any job is to love what you do. If you wonder what it takes to be a foster carer and are considering the fostering career, look into yourself. Before talking to Capstone, your local authority, or any other independent fostering agency, there is one important step you should take.
Talk to your family and friends. Ask them what they think about you being a foster parent. These are the people who know you best. They will tell you what their thoughts are. You may not agree with them, but they will give you a point of departure for thinking about your suitability to foster.
In case you want Capstone Foster Care’s experienced opinion about the personal characteristics a foster carer needs, 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 in a timely manner. When you do so, 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 part of the fostering team involved in the child’s life is a large part of your job, you also need to be cooperative. 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 have negatively affected 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. Their own views of life have come from their family history and experience within the system, creating a higher level of distrust than you are used to seeing. Learn more tips on how to connect with 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 psychic space a child can take up 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 need to work on these special skill sets. One skill set that may concern you is that you have no experience in looking after children. If you have looked after children, you will have a stronger sense of the commitment and energy that is needed.
Don’t worry about having no experience working with children. Our training helps you with this concern. Our foster care training courses are delivered by professionals and are ongoing. There is a variety of courses and the Core Training is mandatory.
You can start with answering the first question which is, do you have a spare room? If you do, the next step is to contact an independent fostering agency such as Capstone Foster Care to discuss applying to be a foster carer.
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.