When considering becoming a foster carer, it is imperative that you look at the different levels of support and training available. There is a huge variety in the amount of foster care training in the early days, ongoing professional development, and the support you will be offered throughout your role as a foster carer. We urge you to ask different local authorities and independent fostering agencies about their foster care training and support before you ‘sign-up’.
Why is foster care training and support so important?
We all want to do absolutely best by the children in the care system. However, children in care often present with very difficult situations. They may come from a background of abuse, neglect and trauma. They may have educational or behavioural difficulties. They may have complex health care needs, be fleeing another country, or be in trouble with the law.
As such, caring for foster children can require a huge amount of skill beyond that needed by the ‘average’ parent. You’ll need to draw on knowledge of therapeutic parenting, yet also know how to use strong boundaries. You need to know how to navigate social care and advocate for your foster child. This isn’t possible without expert training.
Furthermore, the 24/7 nature of the job, and the very fact its success depends on your relationship with a potentially damaged child, can mean you need support yourself. By being in receipt of the right support as a foster carer, you will be better placed to enable a child to thrive and develop, learn to trust again, and flourish.
We therefore strongly believe that training and support for foster carers should be of the highest priority when selecting an agency.
Training in advance of becoming a foster carer
During the process of becoming a foster carer, you should expect to be given training. This fundamental ‘early-days’ training should help you decide whether foster caring is definitely what you would like to do. Training, within the approval process, is beneficial for all parties.
Immediately following approval, training should become even more comprehensive. For this reason, we’ve chosen to offer a two-month induction process which gives all of our new foster carers the groundwork they need to be successful foster carers from their first placement.
Ongoing foster care training
Best practices change. Furthermore, as you develop in the foster care role, you may wish to take on placements which require an additional level of skill. For this reason, and ensuring you always provide the best care, we believe that training is an ongoing process.
You will work together with supervision from your social worker to identify your ongoing training needs and to access this training.
Central to this is access to our post-approval training programme. Here you can access webinars and e-learning resources which fit around the complex demands of foster caring. You’ll have full access to the training required for you to meet the Training, Support and Development (TSD) Standards for foster care, which includes the possibility of achieving the Level 3 Diploma in Child Care.
In addition to training, you need to be fully supported in your role as a foster carer to ensure that you can provide exemplary care for your foster children. We are proud that we are rated Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ and believe this is only possible due to our fantastic foster carers being well supported in their roles.
Your primary source of support will be your nominated experienced social worker. In addition, you will have access to educational staff to help you meet the educational needs of children in your care. You will also have access to qualified therapists, both for yourself, and your foster child.
This is within an arena where we recognise the unique demands of foster caring, and as such offer paid respite and holidays, as well as generous financial support which is considerably above the government minimum requirements. You will also have access to FosterTalk for further support. Listen to the story of one of our foster carers, here.
Disclosure – this is a collaborative post