Fostering – Children's Workforce Guide to Qualifications and Training

Charlotte Goddard
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

In the UK in 2019, 68,352 children were living with around 54,050 foster families. The Fostering Network says thousands more foster families will be needed in the UK in the next 12 months, but cannot give a specific target due to the impact of Covid-19.

Foster carers can foster for a local authority or via an independent fostering agency (IFA). Government statistics published in February 2020 show that in England, 21 per cent of carers in IFAs were from non-white ethnic groups, compared with 12 per cent in local authorities. Recent years have seen increased professionalisation of the role, alongside the creation of specialist fostering placements for particularly vulnerable children such as refugees, and specific roles such as therapeutic foster care.

In November 2019, the Fostering Network published a report in partnership with Mercy Mission UK, which highlighted the importance of training and support for non-Muslim foster carers looking after Muslim children. The report recommended fostering services should review their recruitment literature, assess how they respond to the needs of a prospective Muslim foster carer and the wider Muslim community, and consider how fostering service staff are trained and supported to conduct initial visits and assessment of Muslim applicants to fostering.

Potential foster carers must undertake a pre-approval training course, such as The Skills to Foster, developed by The Fostering Network. Once approved, foster carers in England must meet standards set by the government in their first 12 months – or 18 months for family and friends carers – supported by training covering areas such as equality, diversity and safeguarding. Induction training is often combined with training for the Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce (Social Care Pathway).

Regular reviews allow carers to access ongoing professional development. They may take specific courses to equip them to meet the needs of a particular child or broaden their skills. The Fostering Network runs courses covering issues such as Fostering Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and Parent and Child Together training for carers who look after parents and their children.

The Fostering Network also delivers courses for those who train and support foster carers, including The Skills to Foster, Train the Trainer, Supervision and the Supervising Social Worker and Foster Carer Assessment.

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