What do foster carers do?

In the UK, foster carers are expected to undergo a rigorous assessment process prior to fostering and to undergo pre approval and post approval training through their fostering career. 

Foster carers need to be great listeners, optimistic, realistic, warm, passionate. They need to have the physical space in their house (spare bedroom) and the time to give to a child who will be to some degree traumatised by their early life experiences.

Provide support

Foster carers are expected to provide a level of care to a foster child like they would their own child, taking into consideration their entire needs, physically and emotionally, educationally and socially.  

Work as part of a team

Foster Carers are expected to keep written records, attend meetings, undergo professional development through training and be a part of the professional team around the child.

Manage Behavior

Children coming into care will have suffered trauma in various forms. Being estranged from a parent is a significant separation for a child. Living in a new family with new rules and expectations would be difficult for any adult let alone a child. Fostered children and young people can display challenging behaviour as an expression of their inner emotional state. A foster carer needs to be able to understand and appreciate the emotions behind the behaviour and not to focus on the behaviour in isolation. Foster carers are working as part of a multi agency team and support is available to help foster carers develop appropriate strategies and help the child manage their past experiences and feelings. 

Promote contact with families

Many children in foster care will remain in contact with their families when safe to do so. Contact is, in most cases, positive for a child and important for their identity. Foster carers are expected to support the contact arrangement when appropriate regardless of any personal feelings a foster carer may have about the child’s parents. Contact can be in different forms including direct (face-to-face) or indirect (telephone, email or letters). Carers will be guided and trained regarding contact.

Commit time and energy
Caring for any child requires given time to that child. Foster carers need time and energy  and patience. Children in care may have come from a neglectful background where they require more focus from care givers to catch up and thrive.

Attend Training
Caring for children in one thing. Caring for a traumatised child will similar but in some ways very different. Foster carers need to understand children on a therapeutic level to be able to provide the best level of care. Available training given is extremely important in providing the foster carers with the skills to make a difference in complex situations.