Foster Carer vs Foster Parent – What Is the Difference?

Is There a Difference Between a Foster Parent and a Foster Carer?

In short, no, the terms ‘foster carer’ and ‘foster parent’’ mean the same thing.

While ‘foster carer’ and ‘foster parent’ represent the same role when fostering a child either with an independent fostering agency or Local Authority, some carers and children prefer one term over the other.

For many foster care families, children in placement and the wider foster care sector, using terminology correctly is important. The distinction between a ‘carer’ and a ‘parent’ is subtle, but it may matter in particular for the children and young people being fostered.

Swiis Foster Care’s Director of Social Work, Vicci Jones, spoke about the terminology surrounding foster care to Care Talk magazine in August 2023, click here to read the full article.

Foster carer vs foster parent – what is the difference?

Why Some Prefer ‘Foster Parent’

Some carers prefer to use ‘foster parent’ because they feel that the term is warmer and represents the nurturing aspect of the role and relationship towards the children and young people within their care.

For some children and young people, using the term ‘foster parent’ can be comforting and helps them to build a bond with their foster parent and foster family.

Why Some Prefer ‘Foster Carer’

Caring for foster children is an important and professional job role which requires not only in-depth training but also a compassionate and caring attitude.

Some carers prefer to use the term ‘foster carer’ as it encompasses the professional aspect of the role, whereas the term ‘foster parent’ may not capture the breadth of the fostering role.

The children and young people within care may also end up going back to live with their birth family at some point in the future.

Some children may prefer to use the term ‘foster carer’ over ‘foster parent’ as that is the role the carer has in their lives. The child may also already have a family and a relationship with them, in which case, they prefer to have a distinction between the two.

Vicki Jones

“The move to the term ‘foster carer’ was originally a drive to raise the professional status of foster carers, to enable them to have professional status in the team around the child. Foster carers are highly trained professionals.

For example, Foster carers at Swiis go through a comprehensive training programme with access to ongoing specialist training and support to ensure they always have access to the latest information they need to fulfil their potential and change the lives of the children in their care.”

– Vicki Jones, Director of Social Work for Swiis Foster Care for Care Talk Magazine

Which Term Should I Use?

Ultimately, this will come down to what you and the child within your care are comfortable using. The term you, and the child or young person you foster, prefer to use can be discussed with your supervising social worker.

Can I Become a Foster Parent/Carer?

Foster carers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including those who are single or have never had children of their own.

Swiis also welcomes fostering applications from couples (including same-sex couples), homeowners, those who rent their home, employed, unemployed, retired, parents and those aged over 65 years old.

To start your fostering journey, there are some basic requirements that you will need to meet. These include having a spare room within your home, ensuring you are medically fit to work, have British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, and are over the age of 21.

Discover if you can become a foster carer by answering a few quick questions on our ‘Can I Foster’ quiz.

Fostering with Swiis Foster Care

Swiis Foster Care has the reputation of being one of the finest fostering agencies in the UK with Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ awards for our North West, Yorkshire, Midlands and South services and Ofsted ‘Good’ awards for our North East service.

We are able to offer a variety of fostering placements across the UK, all backed up by outstanding support, training, generous allowances, and guidance from the Swiis team.

To learn more about fostering, or to start the process of becoming a foster parent, enquire on our form below and a member of our team will be in touch with you.

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