Foster carers look after children and young people who can’t be looked after in their own homes.
Salary range: Variable
How to become a foster carer
You can get into this role through:
- a college course
- specialist courses run by training organisations
You could prepare for foster 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
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
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.
A preparation programme would include:
- pre-approval training – learning skills and getting ready for fostering
- attending groups to learn about the needs of children coming into foster care
- visits from a social worker
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.
You can find out more about fostering through the Fostering Network.
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
- customer service skills
- 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:
- 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’d both be expected to pass the relevant assessments.
Following checks, your social worker would prepare a report that’s presented to an independent fostering panel to decide whether you could become a foster carer.
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- welcoming a child or young person to be part of your family
- giving day-to-day care to meet physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs
- setting suitable boundaries for behaviour
- helping with schoolwork and a positive attitude to education
- keeping young people safe from harm and abuse
- working with other professionals
- putting forward the views of young people in your care, even if you disagree
- involving parents where possible
- helping 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 agency.