According to The Fostering Network, there are over 64,000 children and young people living with foster carers throughout the UK, and around 30,000 more expected to come into care over the course of 12 months. This is why it is so important for new foster families to come forward to register their interest in becoming involved with this vital aspect of the care system. Becoming a foster carer is a challenging and rewarding move which many people don’t realise is a career. Fostering is often considered to be in the same realm as adoption, but there are vast differences between the two.
Fostering is as much as a career choice as anything else. Foster carers are paid an allowance and are expected to undergo continuous training to develop their skills. If you’re thinking about making the move to fostering, here are five unexpected professionals who make excellent foster carers.
A natural affinity with children and young people is essential for successful foster carers, so transitioning from teaching to foster care is a natural move. However, there are many other unexpected skills required that make teachers ideal foster carers. Some retired teachers may think they are too old to become foster carers, but there is no upper age limit to becoming a foster carer.
Having an in-depth knowledge of the care sector makes social workers the best-placed individuals to foster a child. In addition to your understanding of the system, social workers also have the emotional strength and experience to deal with difficult situations that might arise. Written and verbal communication skills are essential, as you will come into contact with a huge range of people, and be required to provide detailed accounts of your foster child’s progress.
Being able to provide a stable and consistent environment is essential to being a good foster carer. Ex-Armed Forces personnel make idea foster carers as they have a background in self-discipline, interpersonal skills and unparalleled leadership skills. Young people in care can display challenging behaviour, but also require a great deal of patience and understanding. For this reason, ex-military personnel make idea foster carers.
Emergency Service Workers
Similar to military personnel, emergency service workers are used to working in tense and delicate situations. They are also highly skilled in communicating and understand the importance of empathy. These are all essential skills for a successful foster carer.
If your children have flown the nest and you’re looking for a way back into the workforce, foster caring can be a highly rewarding career path. It’s important not to approach this as a way to ‘replace’ your children, and see it as a challenge that will require ongoing training and a conscious change in your approach to childcare. Children in care have complex needs that can’t be remedied overnight, but being able to provide structure and support to a young child in care is a wonderful perk of this challenging career choice.
If you believe you could make a difference to a young person’s life, get in touch with your local authority or a private fostering agency to find out if you could start the journey to becoming a foster carer.