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Fostering as a Career Choice?

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Fostering a child isn’t like any other job, it isn’t a 9 to 5, with 25 days paid holiday a year that you can book on a whim, where at the end of the day you leave the office, turn off your PC and switch off your mobile phone. It takes a special kind of person to open up their home to a child they don’t know and provide them with a stable and safe environment where they will live with you for as little as a day or sometimes for years. It can place a huge demand on both your time and your emotions, but you are paid for the commitment you are providing and for those that do foster, it is a very rewarding carer choice.

More foster parents needed

There is a huge shortage of around 10,000 foster carers in the UK at present so anyone thinking about fostering is encouraged to find out all the facts and discuss how fostering will affect you and your family before making any decisions. Speak with fostering agencies and other foster parents and consider the impact bringing a child who may have emotional or behavioural needs into your home, will have on you and your family.

Foster carers aren’t expected to have any specific qualifications or be a parent already, although if you are in a new relationship, don’t have a spare bedroom or have committed serious offenses in the past, then this may rule you out. There are NQVs you can study for which are recommended and any experience you have of caring for or working with children is really useful, but a foster carer’s main quality should be to provide a safe and caring environment and be positive influence on their life. If you haven’t any experience caring for children, you will need to consider why you think you would make a good foster carer and what qualities you can offer a child.

Fostering dad and child

Placements can be short term where you may have a child for a few days or weeks, long term where a child may be placed with you until they reach adulthood, or bridging placements which are usually part of a long term plan and may involve a child being with you while they are joining an adoptive or permanent foster family. Sometimes you may have a child placed with you for respite purposes where the parents need short breaks and some foster carers can also offer long and short term placements for children with disabilities, helping them live their lives to their full potential. When becoming a foster carer, you will be given the choice of the type of placements you would like and the age range of children you would be able to care for. You will be also working alongside other agencies such as social services, health workers and teachers as well as family members, so you won’t be isolated or left by yourself to cope.

Fostering entitles you to some benefits

Fostering a child is time consuming and the main foster carer isn’t expected to have a full time job, so you are paid accordingly for your time and commitment. The amount you are paid is also to cover food costs, bills, clothing, activities and other expenses. You will need to register as self employed and there are many different circumstances which will have an impact on the amount you are paid and the amount you have to pay in tax. These include whether you foster with your partner, other household income, how many children you foster and the type of placements you have. (With some placements you may be paid an enhanced fee). However, there is a generous tax relief scheme that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs offer, which means that foster carers pay very little tax and national insurance. They have also set up a scheme to help fosterers simplify how much tax you pay by comparing a ‘qualifying amount’ to your total fostering income. You need to remember that while you are a foster carer, you are only paid for when you have a child placed with you, so if you choose to foster children on a short term or respite basis, you should ensure you have enough money put aside for the periods when you are not caring for a child.

Being able to offer a child in need a caring and secure home is an amazing gift to offer and while you will face challenges and emotions that no ordinary job will throw your way, you will also be rewarded with the knowledge you have been there for a child when they need it most and hopefully had a positive impact on their future.

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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