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Fostering-A New Career

There is no denying the fulfilment that comes with fostering. Fostering is a highly rewarding experience of caring for a child and nurturing their development. Some carers are able to maintain other work alongside the task of fostering, but there must be flexibility and availability to meet the child or young person’s needs.

Fostering Opportunities
There are currently more children coming into the care system needing foster families than there are foster carers to look after them. Depending on your household and the age of a child you feel most able to support, a careful matching process will identify a child to match your family circumstances and lifestyle. Sibling groups of 2-3 children and children over the age of 12 are the most in need of foster carers.

Balancing Fostering & Other Responsibilities

Fostering requires flexibility but most households can accommodate a foster child or children without serious disruptions to their lifestyle; what is important is that you have the time and energy to commit to caring for a child and ensuring they have the best possible chance to be happy and do well. You can foster as a single person or as a couple, in both cases it is important that you have a robust support network to help you, emotionally and practically. Many employers are sympathetic to the needs of foster carers and are very supportive with flexible working or working from home arrangements. There are different kinds of fostering; some people enjoy looking after a young person until they are an adult and ready to move away from home, others prefer to offer shorter periods of care to help children return to their families or for the courts to decide where the child will live long term or they offer respite care (arranged in advance to support another foster carer) for short periods or at weekends.

Can anyone Foster?
There are few barriers to fostering however, there are some basic requirements that must be met
before embarking on a fostering assessment:

  • Age 21+
  • A bedroom available for fostering
  • Permanent residency in the UK
  • To be in sound health
  • Able to demonstrate an understanding of children’s needs

There are also some things that would disqualify a person from fostering, such as having a history of
serious violent crime or sexual offences or offences against children.

If you rent your home, you must have the permission of the landlord to use the premises for
fostering.

Personal Considerations
Personal aspects and qualities you possess are also considered when thinking about a child you
might support through fostering. Whether you are sporty and outgoing or quieter and like gentler
activities, what is important is your ability to understand and encourage a young person with
warmth and consistency. A good sense of humour and the ability to see positives in others also
helps!
You will need to consider your household members and extended family as their positive support is
a necessity for you and any child you foster. The goal is for a child to feel part of a family and to be
welcomed by everyone.
Care Experience
Many people make the decision to foster because they have worked in a caring profession, but this
is not the only experience that can support your career as a foster carer. Experience of parenting
your own children or supporting family members is also valuable, as is volunteer work or community
work. What is important is that you understand child development and children’s needs and can
remember your own experiences growing up – good and bad.

Am I Healthy enough?
It is important that foster carers are healthy as children who come into the care system have had
losses and endured separations; it would not be right to match a child to a carer who may need to
stop caring due to known health concerns. Many individuals have health concerns that are well
managed and would not interfere with the fostering task; this will be considered be a medical
advisor and in consultation with your GP.
Fostering can be a physically demanding job as you enjoy the activities associated with sharing your
life with a child or young person! You don’t need to be a bodybuilder but a healthy lifestyle and
energy will make the experience the best it can be for you and the child.

Fostering Support

As well as your own support network, foster carers have the support of a Supervising Social Worker
who will guide you and offer help throughout your fostering career. They will meet with you
regularly and talk with other professionals on your behalf.
Fostering agencies also offer training on a range of subject to keep you informed about children’s
needs and to help you develop the skills to support children. Often there is a Support Group so you
can meet other foster carers and exchange information and further develop your own support
network.

Finances and Living conditions
Fostering pays carers for their time and skill as well as giving allowances to meet a child’s needs. It is
important to demonstrate that you can manage your finances and that you would be able to do this
even when a foster child is not living with you. Children need a sense of stability; financial stability is
a part of this.
Your home does not need to be a mansion or palace, but it does need to be safe and comfortable
with adequate space for privacy. The bedroom allocated for fostering must provide space for
sleeping and the child’s belongings and your home must offer a space for study – either in their
bedroom or elsewhere in the house.

Fostering Earnings
Fostering is a full-time career and you will receive payment for when a child is with you, this will
include:
 Payment for your skills and time
 Allowance to meet the child’s needs (clothing, leisure, education, trips, etc)
In addition to this many agencies offer additional money for holidays, birthdays and major festivals
(arrangements vary between agencies).
Earning depends on a variety of factors such as the age of the children, how many you are caring for,
and their specific needs. Most agencies pay approximately £400.00 per week for a child without any
additional needs.

Interested in fostering? Find out more by contacting a fostering agency to learn more about what
is involved and the assessment process. You can also check websites to see what other foster
carers say about their experiences.

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