Have you ever considered becoming a foster carer but worry that you lack the skills or qualifications to care for a foster child? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss the requirements for becoming a foster carer, including whether you need any formal qualifications:
Who Can Foster?
Before discussing whether you need formal qualifications to become a foster carer, we’ll talk about who can foster. In the UK, to become a foster carer, you must:
- Have the right to work in the UK.
- Be able to care for a child or a young person, often on a full-time basis.
- Be over the age of 18 – while the law states you must be a minimum age of 18, it’s essential to bear in mind that many foster agencies require you to be at least 21.
- Have a spare bedroom.
- Be in reasonable health.
Do You Need Qualifications to Be a Foster Carer?
A common misconception is that you require qualifications to be a foster carer. However, this is not true. Whether you are fostering in Portsmouth or another part of the UK, you don’t require formal qualifications to become a foster carer.
Do You Need Experience to Foster a Child?
Although not necessary, having some experience with children before you decide to foster is beneficial. This can be gained in several ways:
- Through employment – you could work or volunteer in a school, childcare or healthcare setting.
- Other voluntary work – another option is to volunteer at children’s groups or clubs such as Scouts or Brownies.
- Personal life – this could be through being a parent, taking care of nephews and nieces, or regular childminding duties for friends.
The Skills Foster Parents Need
While you do not need any formal qualifications to become a foster carer, there are some skills that foster carers need. These include:
- Good communication skills – being chatty and friendly in nature is one thing, but knowing how to speak to children on their level is another.
- Empathy – being in care affects children in many ways, and sometimes they struggle to process what has happened to them. Foster carers need to empathise with what their foster child has gone through.
- Resilience – many children in foster care have experienced neglect, abuse, domestic violence, the loss of a close family member or a family breakdown. These experiences may cause some children to exhibit challenging behaviours. Foster carers need to understand this and not take it personally.
- Patience – Foster carers must be patient with the children in their care. They need to support them and realise that change will not occur overnight.
- Compassion – to be a good foster carer, you must be compassionate. After all, being kind and caring is the bread and butter of being a foster carer.
- Conflict resolution – Foster carers need to be able to stay calm in the most stressful of situations. Like in all families, there will be times when you and your foster child disagree; this is normal. But it’s how you cope with this situation that matters.
One of the main reasons people choose not to foster is because they think that you must have specific qualifications to become a foster carer, but this simply isn’t true. Let’s challenge this misconception and encourage more people to take this role.