Fostering aims to provide a safe, secure and caring home environment that will support the child’s emotional development and provide them with the skills to manage their own emotions.

  • Foster carers need to firstly have a love of children, enjoy spending time with them and be open, patient and able to deal with strong emotions.
  • Foster carers need to be open to working with other professionals and willing to participate in multidisciplinary discussions, advocating on behalf of their foster child when necessary.
  • Foster carers need to be flexible in their 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 agreed plan for the child’s care regardless of your own personal view or feelings about this.
  • Foster carers should be honest about situations they find difficult and not be afraid to ask for help and support when needed.
  • All children and young people are different and will come from various cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, foster carers need to have the ability to ensure that children’s rights, needs, differences and diversity are valued, promoted and celebrated.
  • Foster carers need to ensure that their actions and beliefs are not discriminatory or prejudiced and that they are prepared to challenge all forms of discrimination.
  • Foster carers need to be able to empathise, reflect and “put oneself in the child’s shoes”. This requires 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.
  • Foster carers need to be comfortable expressing affection and warmth and have the ability to nurture and care for children whose behaviour may be challenging or rejecting.
  • Foster carers need to have the capacity to accept the child’s history and support children to come to terms with it.
  • Foster carers should be motivated to foster by a desire to meet the needs of the child and not to meet a need within themselves. If you have experienced stress or trauma in your own life, you need to be sure that you have resolved this.
  • Foster carers need to be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.
  • Foster carers need to be familiar with and confident using technology and navigating computer programmes and social media sites.
  • Foster carers should have a personal support network offer practical and emotional support.
  • Foster carers need to understand and appropriately manage their own emotional needs and not to take any rejecting or challenging behaviour personally.
  • Foster carers need to be committed to continuous personal development and give an undertaking to attend training and avail of opportunities to increase their knowledge and skills around the fostering task.

Some of the key fostering tasks

  • 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.
  • Fostering households need to be flexible and open to accommodating foster children’s interests, alongside their existing routines.