Foster Carer’s Education and Continuing Professional Development
Foster Carer’s Education and Continuing Professional Development
“Foster carers are expected to start caring for extremely vulnerable and traumatised children on a 3 days ‘Skills to Foster’ course, maybe if they’re lucky a pre-approval training. This is inadequate for the task before them. There is no standardised or consistent foster carer education across the UK, training, both in terms of quality and quantity, varies hugely between providers. There needs to be a standardised National Curriculum for foster carers. Education from entry and access levels through to a full BA (Hons) in Foster Care Work.
Here at FosterWiki, we have replaced ‘training’ with ‘Education’. Simple training aimed at ‘just foster carers’ belies the importance of our work, the depth, breadth and significance of this critical workforce and the fostering role, it also undermines the needs of our children.”
Sarah Anderson, Founder, FosterWiki
1. Introduction to Foster Carer’s Education and Continuing Professional Development
This is a brief introduction, guide and overview of the current educational landscape for foster carers. There are also foster carers comments and comment from FosterWiki on delivering better educational opportunities for foster carers and the growing partnerships FosterWiki is seeking in order to facilitate this.
Foster care is devolved, which means that each fostering provider, whether it be a local authority or an agency sets out their own training specifications for carers, and deliver training as they see fit.
Other than the government’s Training, Support and Development Standards, TSDS (see below) there are no other compulsory training for carers. The government leave the education of foster carers up to fostering providers and foster carers themselves.
Therefore there is no standardised or consistent foster carer education across the UK and foster carer’s education, both in terms of quality and quantity varies hugely between providers.
2. What are the standards and legislation
Standards and legislation underpin our role, you can read more about this in FosterWiki’s “Your role as a professional” in the members’ area.
The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 say that the fostering service provider must provide foster carers with training ‘as appears necessary in the interests of the children placed with them.’
The National Minimum Standards state that:
- 20.1 – All new foster carers receive an induction.
- 20.2 – All foster carers, including all members of a household who are approved foster carers, are supported to achieve the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care. (Within 12-18 months of approval)
- 20.4 – Foster carers maintain an ongoing training and development portfolio which demonstrates how they are meeting the skills required of them by the fostering service (CPD).
- 20.6 – The reviews of each carer’s approval include an appraisal of performance against clear and consistent standards set by the agency, and consideration of training and development needs, which are documented in the review report.
The delivery and interpretation of these standards vary hugely around the UK.
3. How does it work
All fostering service providers are expected to ensure that carers are educated to provide high-quality care and meet the needs of each child or young person placed in their care.
If you work for a local authority they usually have some kind of online learning zone which you log onto and book your courses or training, agencies have a variety of systems. Sometimes your supervising social worker will send you links to training, it really does vary.
4. What are the basic requirements for your education
Skills to Foster
This is a very basic 3-day course you undertake before you are approved as a foster carer.
This is in addition to Skills to Foster, it has been delivered by some fostering providers for many years, some offer it, some don’t.
You should be provided with a version of this so that you know what to expect from your fostering service.
Training, support and development standards (TSDS)
This is the one piece of statutory training required of foster carers and should be completed within the first 12-18 months after being approved.
Completing the TSD standards workbook is a governmental requirement and is a part of the National Minimum Standards. These standards provide a national benchmark that sets out what foster carers should know, understand and be able to do within 18 months of approval.
It is the responsibility of your fostering provider to ensure you get this done. It is also their obligation to support you and your supervising social worker should help you to complete it.
Please see the FosterWiki pages on Training, Support and Development Standards (TSDS).
Core training should include:
- Child protection
- Safer caring
- first aid
- Other training
Other training provided vary can include things like:
- Loss, bereavement and grief
- Therapeutic and trauma-informed care
- Transitions and endings
- Disability, autism, ADHD
- Life story work
- Attachment theory
- Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)
- Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
- Drugs & alcohol
- Accessing your own training and CPD
Foster carers are the main ones in charge of their own Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and should have minimum requirements set by their fostering provider.
The best gauge of how it works in practice is to see the foster carer’s own comments, which you can see below.
CPD can include the training you have sourced yourselves, it also includes reading and listening to books, other courses provided for social workers and watching relevant television programmes or films.
5. FosterWiki partnerships
FosterWiki is led by experts with experience in the field of foster care and we all recognise the importance of developing educational opportunities for foster carers and access to higher education and mainstream qualifications.
Our first established education partnership are DN Colleges Group, they have a wiki page here.
FosterWiki’s own experts by experience recommend the following DN courses. These are industry-standard mainstream qualifications, online to help the foster carers to complete in their own time and not have to travel distances or organise child care. These courses are free to foster carers and are Government funded and approved (Subject to DN College’s terms and conditions, location restrictions may apply).
The course curriculums are relevant to our role and enhance our professional qualifications and skills. They also provide carers with recognised, accredited and respected universal, transferable qualifications.
6. What foster carers say
To understand how things work in practice we like to bring you comprehensive comments from a cross-section of carers from across the UK. These foster carers are a broad-spectrum representation of the fostering workforce with different lengths of service, age ranges and diversity of children from both local authorities and agencies. These are the real experts who understand the workings of our industry in real-time.
source a lot of my own training and reading resources or TV programmes. When I sent this all in on my last HHR they removed everything which wasn’t run by the County so I put it all back in again!”
have different learning styles and I think it’s important they recognise this.”
7. Information, Help and Support
Help and support created for foster carers, by foster carers, we are the experts by experience. We have the first foster carers knowledge bank.
Please find our help and support page here.
Access both the open pages and members area. Both are free to access and footprint-free. The member’s area gives you privileged confidential access to FosterWiki’s experts by experience for advice and guidance. You will also find short courses and guides from the foster carer’s perspective, top tips, allegation help, templates, and the ability to add to FosterWiki. With more content being uploaded regularly.
Please let us know what information or advice pages you would find useful and we will put them in place. https://fosterwiki.com/register/
- Fostering Regulations
- The Looked After Children Regulations for Scotland
- DN Colleges Group(coming soon)
- Fostering Network Skills to Foster and Pre-approval training