We ask foster carers to open their hearts and homes to a foster child. This is a great place to start but a traumatised child will need more than this. And this is why foster carers are becoming trained specialists.
Training is an important part of the support offered to foster carers. But what does this training look like and can you as a foster carer, progress your skill base?
You may or may not be a parent when you apply to become a foster carer, and you may or may not also have extensive experience of working with children and young people.
While these life and work skills are taking into account; it has to be recognised that being a foster carer is a career and a vocation unlike any other.
Fostering is not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday commitment. As a foster carer, you will expend a lot of emotional and physical energy on the children you foster, every minute of the day every day.
The initial training is part of the application process. It is a significant opportunity to discuss and examine in more detail many of the issues that a foster carer deals with.
It covers topics such as managing poor behaviour, sexualised behaviour and how to interact with birth parents, listen to a traumatised child and more.
Being a foster carer is a professional career as well as a life-changing choice. There are many reasons why people come to fostering. They may want a new direction in life, or they feel they now have what it takes to offer a looked after child a home.
It is important that foster carers are supported throughout their time as a foster carer – and that means being offered training courses to progress and consolidate their skills.
You can also choose to offer a specialist type of fostering placement. Different placements are needed so that foster carers can work appropriately with children exhibiting particularly complex needs.
Many foster carers choose to formalise this training, aiming to complete an SVQ 3 Social Services (Children & Young People) SCQ F Level 7 qualification.
Ongoing fostering training comes with many topics for consideration, many of which are prominent for children and young people today.
For example, a recent report found that the number of 14-year-old girls self-harming was on the rise. For a foster child, self-harming could be the release they use to let out some of the pent up emotions inside of them.
Courses in self-harming and how to help children and young people who do harm themselves is one course on offer, as well as other topics such as identity and self-esteem, attachment disorder and child development.
Being a safe carer is also an important part of a foster carer’s training, along with putting in place positive behaviour management
There are practical skills that foster carers need such as first aid and health and safety too.
Some of the topics for further fostering training may surprise you. Teamwork, for example, may not be something that is immediately obvious as part of foster work, but working together as a team with effective communication is essential.
Interacting with birth families is something many foster carers do, and this also brings a host of issues, challenges and concerns.
Issues around child protection are essential too, a field that is ever-changing.
Making a big difference
There is no denying that every day, foster carers make a big difference to the lives of the foster children they look after.
By continually upskilling, foster carers can offer even better placements to the children they foster, and that means making a more significant difference to the lives of children and young people unable to live with their birth families.
Foster Care Associates Scotland are looking for forever families and foster carers from across society to provide loving, supportive homes to foster children and young people. Why not find out what you can offer?