Fostering aims to provide a safe, secure and caring home environment to support the child’s development and build the confidence and skills to manage their lives. To do this and be a successful foster carer you need to

  • love and enjoy children, spend time with them and be open, patient and able to deal with strong emotions.
  • be open to working with other professionals and willing to participate in multidisciplinary discussions, advocating on behalf of the foster child when necessary.
  • be flexible in your thinking and actions with a willingness to make on new ideas and consider the views of others. As a member of the professional team around the foster child, you must be willing to implement the plan for the child’s care regardless of your own personal view or feelings about it.
  • be honest about difficulties and not be afraid to ask for help and support.
  • respect differences; promote and celebrate children’s rights, needs, differences and diversity.
  • ensure your actions and beliefs are not discriminatory or prejudiced and be prepared to challenge all forms of discrimination.
  • empathise, reflect and be able to “put oneself in the child’s shoes”. You to try and understand the child’s behaviour and actions even when they are challenging for you and your family and to try to make sense of these for the child.
  • be comfortable expressing affection and warmth and have the ability to nurture and care for children whose behaviour may be challenging or rejecting.
  • have the capacity to accept the child’s history and support children to come to terms with it.
  • be motivated to foster by a desire to meet the needs of the child and not to meet a personal need. If you have experienced stress or trauma in your own life, you should be sure that you have resolved it.
  • communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.
  • be confident using technology and social media sites.
  • have a personal support network that can offer practical and emotional support.
  • understand and appropriately manage your own emotional needs and not to take any rejecting or challenging behaviour personally.
  • be committed to continuous personal development and give an undertaking to attend training and avail of opportunities to increase your knowledge and skills around the fostering task.

Some of the key fostering tasks are to

  • Provide a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children to enable them to bridge any gaps in their development.
  • Provide a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that children eat a balanced diet, take regular exercise and have all their health needs met.
  • Enable children to develop their skills and self-esteem through play and access to a range of activities and new experiences.
  • Support children in gaining an understanding, appropriate to their age, about relationships and sexual health.
  • Promote the importance of education by supporting children with their homework and liaising with schools.
  • Attend meetings about the child, as well as training and support groups.
  • Liaise with and work alongside all the professionals involved in the child’s life and actively contribute to the planning for the child’s future.
  • Work alongside birth family members and respect the importance of these relationships to the child. This includes facilitating foster children’s attendance at regular contact visits.
  • Support young people in developing skills for independence.
  • Keep accurate daily records relating to the care of the child and any significant events that occur.
  • Include and involve the child in your family and social circle even if the child is only to be with you for a short time. All children in the household should be treated equally.
  • Be a flexible fostering households and open to accommodating foster children’s interests, alongside their existing routines.