Building a successful career in foster care
A career in foster care is more than just a job; it’s a passion. Discover what you need to build a successful fostering career to enrich your life and transform the lives of vulnerable young people.
Is fostering a career?
Absolutely. Fostering is a professional career that goes beyond the realms of a 9-5 job. It’s a vocation that allows you to dedicate your life’s work to caring for some of the most vulnerable children in the UK. Foster parents are self-employed and benefit from significant tax relief, often paying little to no tax. However, money is rarely the motivator to decide on a career in fostering – it's the passion to give children in need the love and support they deserve.
Why choose a career in foster care?
Careers in foster care have a profound effect on future generations, helping disadvantaged young people make positive strides towards a brighter future. According to recent fostering statistics, there are around 97,000 children in care away from home on any one day in the UK, with 70,000 of them being in foster homes. Each year, roughly 30,000 children enter the care system, but there aren’t enough foster families to give them all a safe, loving home. The majority of these children will have experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of those who were meant to protect them. They are confused, hurt and need the guidance of a parental figure to help them heal and overcome their pasts.
That’s why becoming a foster parent is such an incredibly rewarding and important role. The work you do is life-changing and has an impact on the real world. Here are some of the benefits of choosing fostering as a career in the UK.
- You give children who haven’t been given the best start in life the opportunity to grow and develop.
- You get to build bonds that last a lifetime and touch the lives of many.
- If you have birth children, they can learn a lot through a foster career, such as empathy, gratitude and responsibility.
- There are many foster care career opportunities at ISP to expand your knowledge, skills and expertise through first-class training courses and programmes.
- With us, you’d have 24/7 support and would be surrounded by a team of experts, including therapists, education advisors and social workers.
- We offer an extremely generous fostering allowance that covers the costs of caring for a child and also rewards the amazing work you do.
How much can you earn with a career in fostering?
This depends on who you foster with. If you foster a child through your local authority (LA), the allowances are generally a lot lower than what you could earn with an independent fostering agency (IFA).
As an IFA, we work closely with LAs all over the UK, helping to find homes for the children they can’t place with their own foster carers. This could be due to resource, but it’s usually because the children are a little older (over 5), need to be placed with their siblings, or require an enhanced level of support that our foster parents can provide. That’s why our allowances are over and above what a lot of other IFAs offer. A career in foster care should reward you financially as well as give you immense joy and satisfaction. The exact amount you receive depends on a number of factors, but we pay up to £620 per week, per child in placement.
What you need to build a successful career in fostering
Aside from being 21 and over, having a spare bedroom a child can always call their own and having the legal right to work in the UK, the following are must-haves when it comes to carving out a successful career in the foster care system.
Compassion and empathy
To consider a career in fostering, you need to be compassionate, kind and caring by nature. As pioneers in therapeutic foster care, we train our foster parents to look beyond behaviour and instead at the reasons for it. This requires empathy, where you’re able to put yourself in their shoes. Being able to empathise with a child means you’re in a much better position to understand the root cause of their actions and work with them to make positive changes.
Healing from a turbulent or traumatic childhood doesn’t happen overnight. Some young people may settle in quickly to a new foster home, while others can be withdrawn and need a lot of nurturing to feel comfortable in their new environment. You may take a couple of steps back for every step forward when it comes to helping them regulate their emotions. This is why foster parents need to remain patient and work at the young person’s pace to achieve positive outcomes.
Foster care careers are not for the faint hearted. It takes the right kind of person to nurture a child through hardship and bring them out the other side smiling. You’re caring for children who have been exposed to some kind of trauma, and as such, they’re likely to have difficulty managing and expressing their emotions. This can be the toughest part of the job, but once you make a breakthrough with the child in your care and begin to see positive changes, it makes the bumps in the road entirely worth it. If you do short-term fostering, being thick-skinned will also help for when a child leaves your care. They could move on to a long-term foster family, go on to be adopted or be reunited with their birth family.
Excellent communication skills
Effective communication is a key skill for foster parents. You need to be capable of truly listening to what a child is trying to tell you and be able to talk to them calmly, even when they’re distressed. A lot of young people choose to disclose certain pieces of information to different people in their circle, such as therapists, teachers and other family members. It’s up to foster parents and the team here at ISP to piece all that information together to ensure you’ve got the full picture about what’s potentially troubling them. Also, some children with autism or learning difficulties might not communicate in a typical way, so it’s about adapting to each child that comes into your home and finding a way to communicate that works for everyone.
Many children in care have complex needs due to their troubled upbringings, such as issues with attachment, developmental delays and mental health disorders. Looking after them and helping them grow up to be happy, healthy young adults isn’t something you can dip your toes into. A successful career in foster care is one that you’re in whole-heartedly with the primary goal to change children’s lives. It can be emotionally taxing at times, but if you’ve got a big heart and the determination to make a difference, you should consider fostering as a career.
The desire to keep learning
Every child that comes into care has their own unique set of needs and challenges. You might have to care for teenagers with mental health disorders, or look after a child from a different cultural background. The more knowledge you’re armed with, the more helpful you can be as their foster parent. This is why when it comes to building an amazing career in fostering, we put a lot of emphasis on learning new skills and broadening your horizons.
Fostering career development opportunities with ISP
At ISP, we’re extremely passionate about helping you become the best you can be, because in turn, that means you’re able to provide the best care to children in need. When you foster with us, you’ll have many fostering career opportunities that’ll enable you to build a flourishing career as a foster care professional.
This is a 4–5-year training programme that develops your skills and knowledge around key therapeutic principles. Our Therapeutic Pathway training has been designed by our Head of Therapy, Dr Suzannah Hill in consultation with foster parents, staff and our young people, and is guided by the latest evidence-based therapeutic parenting approaches. There are three levels covering essential principles and skills, key models and theories and practical application in day-to-day life.
We offer the chance to study for professional qualifications, such as NVQ3 or a QCF Level 3 in Health and Social Care. This is a great way to build your career in foster care and achieve something you might have thought you’re not capable of.
Specialist training courses
Alongside our mandatory training and Therapeutic Pathway, we also give foster parents the opportunity to broaden their knowledge with specialist, additional training. From Autism Awareness and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome to Keeping Children Safe Online, we have a plethora of courses that ensures the learning never stops.
Can fostering be a career for you?
If you’ve got the personality, the legal requirements to foster a child and the passion for helping vulnerable children, please get in touch via our online form. Our expert advisors will give you a quick call back and will be on hand to answer any questions you have and help you decide if fostering is a career for you. There are children out there who could hugely benefit from you being their foster parent, so take the first step today.
Or, download our Introduction to Fostering Guide for an in-depth overview of therapeutic fostering, the benefits of being a foster parent and the steps to take to become one.
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