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But…what do foster carers actually have to do?

In this article, we’ll look closer at the role of a foster carer, and why it might just be the perfect career for you.

September 1 2023 - 4 min read

Fostering can be one of the most beneficial, challenging, and rewarding careers you can choose.

Not only are you providing a safe and secure home to a vulnerable child or young person, but you are helping to pave the way for them to enjoy a positive and happy future. Something they might not have been able to achieve without your care and support.

But, what do foster caresr actually do? What is their role? What are their main duties when it comes to fostering?

We take a closer look at the role of a foster carer, and why it might just be the perfect career for you.

Who can be a foster carer?

Regardless of your relationship status, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, age, gender, income, or if you have birth children or not, if you have the love, care, determination, and drive to make a difference in a vulnerable child’s life, you could make an amazing foster carer.

There are many people who might think fostering isn’t the right path for them because they assume you need to have special qualifications, experience, and skills to foster. While having experience with children and certain qualifications and skillsets can be beneficial, you don’t need this to be a foster carer.

You don’t even need to be a parent or be in work, as fostering is a career that pays generously and offers a wealth of rewards and benefits,

What you do need is dedication, empathy, resilience, energy, commitment, love, endurance, and patience.

Foster carers come from all walks of life, and the minimum requirement you need to foster are:

  • Being 21 or older (there is no upper age limit to foster. As long as you are healthy and have the energy to care for children, you can foster later in life).
  • While you don’t need to own your own house, you must have a spare bedroom and enough space to accommodate a child.
  • You must have the legal right to work in the UK.

The bottom line is anyone who meets the required criteria above could be a foster carer. If you have a passion to transform the lives of children and young people, then fostering could be the ideal path for you.

Main duties of a foster carer

The role of a foster carer might be a little ambiguous to some people, and we can understand why. After all, if you’re taking in a foster child who already has birth parents, what does that make you? What exactly is your role?

Let’s break down the main duties of a foster carer, so you can get a better understanding of what foster carers actually do.

1. Provide a safe and secure home

Many of the children we care for have come from unstable homes and families. They might have experienced a difficult background, which has caused them to feel unsafe and alone. Providing them with a secure and stable home is one of the main duties of a foster carer. A place where they know they are being cared for and can feel happy and comfortable, even if it takes time.

2. Including them as part of your family

When your foster child comes into your home, whether it’s for a few days or a few years, they become a part of your family, and they need to be treated as such. This means including them in everything your family does, from trips and days out to comforting them when they’re sad to throwing them birthday parties and attending parent’s evening at school.

Being a part of a stable and loving family can give them a rich and rewarding experience they can cherish into their adulthood.

3. Responsibility for health needs

Caring for a foster child means attending to their health needs. It’s your responsibility to ensure they have access to medical care and doctor's appointments. Some foster children have additional medical needs that require extra care. We’re here to help with everything to ensure you and your child have everything you need, and that you never feel alone.

This also covers helping your foster child learn to trust adults and form positive attachments, which can be challenging if they are coming from a difficult background.

4. Support educational needs

As a foster carer, if you care for a child of school age, you need to make sure they go to school, stay on top of their homework and support their education.

And it’s not just educational needs at school. You need to help them develop everyday skills they can take with them into the future. Listening, understanding, compassion, teamwork, empathy, as well as basic life skills.

5. Provide love and care

When a child is removed from their family home, their whole world is turned upside down. They will suddenly be surrounded by people they don’t know, and might not yet trust, in a strange and foreign environment. You need to be able to provide the love, care, and patience they need to help them feel at home and loved. By being an understanding, empathetic, and trustworthy parent figure, you can help them feel settled so they can begin to thrive.

6. Work with a wider team to look after a child’s wellbeing

At FCA Scotland, Team Parenting® is our way of creating a model of support that forms a close-knit team of professionals around you and your foster child. Depending on the child’s needs, this may include therapists, education leads, social workers and a participation service that actively engages children. At FCA Scotland, you’ll have access to this wrap-around support network to ensure to very best outcomes for the children and young people in your care

7. Help overcome traumatic pasts

There are many different reasons why children are in foster care. It could be due to a family illness, relationship issues, or a family breakdown. They might have come from a traumatic background where they faced abuse or neglect. Part of your role is to help them overcome their past - always with our support and training - so they can look forward to a brighter future.

8. Attend meetings

When you foster, you are an important part of a large team of childcare professionals, social workers, and foster workers who all work together to support your foster child. Being a foster carer not only involves the day-to-day care of your child, but you will also attend meetings about your child, keep written records, and manage sensitive information. All of this information helps us make plans for the child’s future.

9. Manage relationships

Not only will you be managing your relationship with your foster child, but also with social workers, people who are involved in the wellbeing of the child, and the child’s birth parents if appropriate.

10. Improve skills with training

Another key duty as a foster carer is taking part in regular training to constantly develop your skills. Fostering is a learning process and no two children are alike. That’s why we offer ongoing training and support, to help you be the best foster carer you can be.

Change lives with FCA Scotland

As a foster parent, your ultimate role is to care for a child or young person within the foster system. When a child is placed in your care, you are responsible for providing them with a family, with safety, food, guidance, care, and love.

And with FCA Scotland, you’ll never be alone. We’re there with you 24/7 to help give you the support, training, and advice you need, so you can do your best to change children’s lives for the better.

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, or just want a little more information, give our friendly team a call today. We’d love to answer any questions you might have.

Are you thinking of fostering?

Download the FCA’s complete beginner’s guide to fostering a child. Find out more on how to foster a child and the process involved.

Download Guide