Is being a Foster Carer a career? Yes of course it is. If you think about Fostering how do you see it? A job, a vocation or a way to earn money? It’s a difficult question to answer, talking about money is still considered a bit of a taboo subject to most within Fostering. Would you do it for nothing? No of course you wouldn’t. But does Fostering revolve around money, no of course it doesn’t. So Fostering is a bit of a hybrid career, you do it because you enjoy it and the money you make is a reward for your hard work, and we know that being a Foster Carer is hard work. Are there people who come into Fostering just to earn money? Yes of course there are. In the past, when I have helped out at training courses, you can tell those people as they ask lots of money related questions. Do you get extra money for this and that? You’re not going to get rich being a Foster Carer but you are going to get a lot of job satisfaction. I have had a couple of great careers outside of Fostering but, when I think about highlights of my working career, the top three are all in Fostering. Maybe a difficult placement or a young person with complex needs or even the sheer number of young people you look back on with pride. The pleasure involved in Fostering certainly exceeds the difficult times. You work from home, you don’t have a boss constantly on your back and you don’t have stroppy customers to deal with. So, yes, Fostering is a career. It requires a lot of training, which is ongoing, you have to be professional, and you have to have a good knowledge of what you are doing.
As a Foster Carer you will sometimes be taken out of your comfort zone. Have you ever had to attend a formal meeting before, either online or face to face? Some people can feel quite intimidated by meetings and are concerned about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Now I am lucky, having worked in the commercial world I have attended lots of meetings and don’t feel concerned about them at all. But for those that haven’t I can understand the concerns on what’s involved and what to say. The first suggestion I would make is to decide what you want to get out of the meeting. Are there issues that you feel aren’t being addressed regarding the young person you have in placement? Make some notes highlighting the issues you want to address. Don’t feel intimidated by other attendees of the meeting. You are a professional Foster Carer and you are working with the young person in placement every day. You may not be involved in the legal aspect of the young person’s placement but you are best placed to represent the young person and you will know the young person’s feeling regarding being in care. Remember you are an advocate for all the young people you work with, so, whether you are meeting with education representatives, family members or other professionals, it us up to you to vocalise the young person’s feelings. More importantly is the fact that you are representing the young person and not necessarily yourself. A phrase you will hear a lot in Fostering is ‘in the best interest of the child’ and you must always remember that. It’s what we are all there to fulfil and that’s the most important factor at any time.