In 2010 the Fostering Network created a partnership with the Open University after their researches revealed that 83% of foster carers wanted more opportunity to receive specific training. The initiative has proved a big success with 74% saying that having a suitable qualification had substantially improved their understanding of the needs of children in their charge and another 44% reporting back that they felt their status was elevated by having an academic qualification.
Do you need training before becoming a foster carer?
So what level of foster care training is actually required? None, to start with. People from all walks of life can sign up to become a foster parent in England. There are no limitations on age, marital status or on educational background. Once involved in this highly rewarding work, it is expected that carers will complete the national training standards initially drawn up by the Children’s Workforce Development Council. This can take up to a year as it is in tandem with the experience gained on the job and part of the pre and post approval assessment. For those who would like to go a step further there is a level 3 diploma for the children and young people’s workforce, which is also a qualification completed in situ. The level 3 diploma is not compulsory but it is a valuable professional asset in foster care training. Care skills development is thus recognized and rewarded. Having a qualification can be a great boost to the foster carer’s confidence in fostering children. Whilst not essential, even for those who have been foster carers for many years, it can help augment and articulate their status and their role. They then see themselves as professional people making a tangible contribution to society.
Other courses available
Other qualification pathways can also be followed. The British Association for Adopting and Fostering (BAAF) offer a raft of options. These include training programmes, online learning, conferences and workshops, held throughout the whole of the UK and all aimed at both professional and non-professionals in the adoption and fostering community. Core Assets, an independent foster agency, has partnered with Bath Spa University to develop two undergraduate diplomas unique to foster carers. The first is concentrated on integrated child protection and the second on disability awareness. This is all testament to a growing respect for the desire and dedication of foster carers to continually push themselves to deliver the best possible care outcomes to those vulnerable children they have been entrusted with.
These training and educational measures all serve to underscore the growing need for a well-informed, committed and professionally accredited workforce in foster care as the demand for placements continues to escalate. Another 9,000 homes are sought for children to be looked after this year.
It is certainly not essential to gather a clutch of qualifications to be a good foster carer. To have life experience in caring for children is the common starting point in entering into foster caring as a career. However, those who have attained further formal qualifications in the field have certainly felt that they have benefitted from the experience, which can only be a good thing for the children in their care. For more on fostering visit http://www.capstonefostercare.co.uk/
Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Capstone Fostercare.