Top 10 Tips to become a Foster Carer
Top 10 Tips If you want to become a foster carer
1. Research and preparation are key
Being prepared and gathering as much knowledge as you can about fostering, fostering is not just a spare room and a big heart, so this research is really key to informing you on the role you are about to embark on.
Using a platform like FosterWiki, which has been created by experts whose knowledge is grounded in practice, most local authority and agency recruitment personnel are not foster carers. Gather all the information you need, join the Fosterwiki member’s area (free, easy to access and anonymous) and have direct access to FosterWiki guides and advice developed by experts in the field.
2. Don’t go with the first provider you speak to
All their recruitment teams will make their own agencies sound great, research them, check out their Ofsted rating, go to the Ofsted website itself and look up their latest reports. It will give you some useful information about the provider’s strengths and weaknesses.
Ask around foster carer social media groups and pages for recommendations for fostering providers in your area. Like all things, there are some good ones, and some not-so-good ones, It is also important to remember, that it is the same as applying for jobs in any other sector, some organisations will suit you better than others.
3. Decide if you want to be with the local authority or a private agency
Some people are not even aware there is a difference, research if you want to be with a local authority (LA) or a private agency, otherwise known as an IFA (Independent Fostering Agency) or IFP (Independent fostering Provider) when you google it they can look similar.
Typically private agencies will come out higher in Google as they generally have bigger advertising departments and budgets and local authorities tend to be a bit behind in this department! Some private agencies are registered as ‘non-profits’ or ‘charities’.
Check out the differences and pros and cons on the page: https://fosterwiki.com/wiki/so-you-want-tobe-a-foster-carer/
4. Consider what you think will suit your household
Put thought and consideration into what kind of children and age range will be a good match in your household and current family dynamics. Check if you are going to a private/non-profit/charity agency that has placements in your preferred age range and has sufficient placements (you don’t want to be empty for months).
5. Money matters
Do not be afraid to talk about money early on, and don’t put off these conversations, what you are paid is key, especially as one of you (or you if you are a single carer) will probably have to give up any other job or employment.
Asking about money doesn’t mean you are heartless or are “doing it for the money” it is simply a fact of life in our modern socio-economic landscape.
6. Check out their Ofsted rating
It’s a source of good information on the people you are about to work with. Go to the Ofsted website itself and look up their latest reports, it will give you some useful ideas about the providers’ strengths and weaknesses. Ask around foster carer social media groups and pages for recommendations for fostering providers in your area.
7. Make sure you ask key questions before the first visit
Speak to them on the phone to make sure you have all your important questions answered before they visit, so as not to waste your time or theirs or be persuaded into anything. If you are not sure about any answers ask for confirmation in writing/email.
8. Consider your own children
How will fostering fit with your own children and family, speak to them, do all your research and don’t rely on the positive rosy narrative from the providers themselves or the advertising.
Speak to real fostering families.
9. Are you happy to engage in further education?
The advertising narrative and public perception that fostering is a spare room and a big heart, and somehow all foster carers are altruistic volunteers, superheroes or fostering ‘angels’ is misplaced.
The modern foster carer needs to be a trauma-informed therapeutic practitioner and understand the National Minimum Standards and Statutory Regulations that underpin their roles.
10. Other professionals will be frequently in your home
Be prepared and accept that your home will be regularly visited and inspected by social workers, you will have ‘unannounced’ visits as well as visits by your own supervising social worker, the children’s social worker, health visitors, personal advisors and other professionals.
The final word comes from foster carers
“Initially I came into it naively, because I wanted to make a difference to a child in desperate need. I was thinking along the lines of orphan Annie. I had a son and wanted to be able to “work” from home but still do something meaningful. I loved working with children and young people. Social care was always going to be my calling and this felt like the perfect thing for me to do. After a baptism of fire, my 22-year-old self was too stubborn initially to give up.17 years on and nearing the end of my fostering career, I have loved the learning it has brought about regarding myself and the YPs we have cared for. I love seeing the difference and being the difference sometimes. I know we’ve made a real difference to some YP’s lives and are all some of those people still have in terms of “family”.
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.
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/