What Is a Foster Carer and What Does Their Role Include?

Foster children sharing chair

Fostering is a flexible and rewarding career choice that can suit a variety of people, provided they are aged 21 and over, have a spare room within their home and have UK citizenship or indefinite leave to remain. Being a foster carer can also fit in well with family life. As a career choice, it can provide a stable job with a competitive income. It could also be a platform for a potential future career in childcare.

People choose to become foster carers for a variety of reasons. It may be the desire for a rewarding career and a wish to give a child or young person a better start in life. Whatever the reasons may be, the decision to foster a child or young person will be life-changing for them.

If you can relate to the reasons above but are unsure about the role of a foster carer and what’s involved, here’s what you need to know.

What is a foster carer?
What is a foster carer?

What is a Foster Carer?

Let’s start with defining what a foster carer is. Fostering provides a secure and caring home for children and young people who are unable to live with their parents. Being a foster carer involves providing a safe home and day-to-day care for children and young people.

Becoming a foster carer offers the opportunity to make an immeasurable difference in a child’s life. Foster carers offer vulnerable children safety, stability, understanding and opportunities they would not otherwise have.

Children in care should have the same opportunity as all children, to a safe and loving home. They should be healthy, feel safe, feel valued and given support to achieve a positive and fulfilling future.

Why Are Foster Carers Needed?

There are currently over 80,000 children currently requiring care in the UK. With thousands of children coming into foster care every day, there is a huge demand for more fostering households.

Children that need a foster home will come from a range of backgrounds and many will have faced uncertainty in early life.

There are many reasons that a child may need to be fostered. Some children will need temporary care due to their parents experiencing instabilities such as depression, drugs or financial issues. Other children require longer-term foster care because of serious neglect and abuse. Parents of children with a disability may need extra help to care for them.

There are different types of foster care placements, these are categorised by the Local Authority depending on the circumstances of each child or young person coming into care.

A foster care placement may be short-term or long-term, parent and child or an emergency or respite placement, or it may be a child or young person requiring significant support due to medical complexities. The placement duration will depend on the type of placement, it may be for one night to months or years, or until the child is an adult. Fostering agencies will work with foster carers to choose which type of fostering placement is best for them.

Why are foster carers needed?

What Responsibilities do Foster Carers have?

Foster carers are expected to welcome a child or young person into their home as part of their family. This involves caring for them and meeting their emotional and social needs.

Some of the key day-to-day responsibilities of a foster carer include:

Education – Supporting the child’s education by helping with schoolwork and promoting a positive attitude.

Health and social wellbeing – This includes keeping young people safe from harm and abuse and providing safety, stability and understanding when helping the young person to manage their own emotions.

Support and understanding – Providing a nurturing environment that is centred on their needs and views. Helping them to appreciate what makes them unique and encouraging them to aspire to a future with opportunities that they would not otherwise have.

Keeping records – Keeping accurate records of day-to-day events in the home to provide detailed assessments of children placed in their care is a key aspect of the role. It also helps foster carers to participate in the planning of services for those in their care.

Attending meetings – These include medical or school appointments and attending meetings with the wider social care team to discuss the child’s needs. It also includes attending regular training to keep updated with the knowledge and skills required for the role of a foster carer.

Involving birth parents where possible – If permitted by the courts, it is important for children and young people in foster care to keep in touch with their birth family – mum, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or grandparents – through regular meetings. Foster carers play a big part in supporting these meetings.

Listening and guidance – The voice of the child or young person is of paramount importance. Foster carers commit significant time and energy to look after the children in their care. However. it is equally important that foster carers learn about the child’s likes and dislikes and they have someone they can speak to who they trust and who will help support and celebrate their achievements.

What support is available for foster carers?

What Support is Available to Foster Carers?

Not only is fostering a rewarding career choice, but it also comes with significant training and support to ensure that foster carers are able to provide the best possible opportunities and outcomes for the children they look after.

Foster carers also need to be observant to recognise when they need to seek assistance to help deal with a particular situation.

Foster parents look after some of the most vulnerable children, and it is only right that they get the support and recognition they need and deserve.

Start Your Fostering Journey

With thousands of children coming into foster care in the UK everyday, we urgently need foster carers more than ever.

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Refer a Friend

Do you know anyone who would be a fantastic foster carer who has the skills and compassion to support a child or young person in need of a loving home?

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