‘Can I foster and work full time?’ is a popular question, but the reality about working and becoming a foster parent isn’t always straightforward. Whilst there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to working and fostering, it is possible to work and be a foster parent. Many foster carers dedicate themselves to fostering full time, while others continue to work part time. There are some important considerations to take into account when you’re deciding to become a foster carer.
As with most decisions regarding foster care, the best interests of the child and the foster family need to be kept front of mind.
Putting the child’s best interests first
Children in foster care often come from unstable backgrounds where they’ve experienced abuse or neglect. The chance to give a child the safe and stable home they deserve is one of the great joys of becoming a foster carer – and to do that, you must be able to provide consistent care.
The most important element to consider is the child’s wellbeing. To give foster children the best chance, young children can’t be in full-time day-care, and school-aged children shouldn’t spend their morning and afternoons in preschool and after school care. There are exceptions, of course, such as older children who are in homework clubs or sports clubs – it all depends on what’s appropriate for the child.
A foster carer’s ability to meet the needs of a foster child is considered during the assessment process. Our family finding team will work with you to find the best solution for your family, but it’s important to consider your availability first.
Is foster care considered a job?
Without a doubt, fostering is a career path many people follow, and it is usually a full-time role. Fostering as a career opens many doors, especially if you are looking for a career where you can directly influence and change children’s lives for the better.
Fostering is a lifestyle and will change everything – not just for the children, but for the foster carers and their families too. Before starting your fostering journey, it is vital you understand the commitment and dedication this role needs. The children that will be in your care need your utmost love and attention, so whilst it can be possible to work & foster, most of our foster carers dedicate all of their time to fostering.
If you work, flexibility is essential
Foster carers need to be able to drop their child off at school in the morning and be there to pick them at the end of the school day. They need to be able to stay home if their child is ill, and accommodate weekends and school holidays.
That need for flexibility is the main reason why it’s very difficult to be a foster parent and work full time – but there are exceptions. Some work places are adaptable enough to offer carers a flexible schedule, such as freelancers and contractors who make their own working hours and can change plans at short notice. Other carers have readily available support networks that can step in when needed, like actively involved parents who live nearby.
Often fostering and working part time can be a good middle ground, providing the hours can be flexbile. This is also well suited to respite fostering or short term fostering as the periods that a child is staying with you will be shorter.
Have a plan
If you join the Compass Fostering family, it’s important to consider your situation carefully to figure out how you’d meet the needs of your foster child. If you want to continue working, plan ahead for inevitable situation.
Review plans for school pick up and drop off, and figure out how your child will be looked after when they’re ill or off school. Identify your support network and have clear contingency plans in place. All these concerns will be covered in your assessment, so it’s best to have an idea of how you’d manage them ahead of time.
Foster parent support
At Compass Fostering, we support our carers financially with a fostering allowance and benefits. In fact, many of our carers foster full time thanks to our allowance, which is to cover the costs of looking after a child as well as a professional fostering fee, and generous tax breaks.
We also support foster parents professionally by giving carers the opportunity to build careers in fostering.
Every foster parent’s situation is different, and every foster child’s needs are unique. Some foster carers work, while many others don’t. No matter your situation, our recruitment and family finding teams will always consider what’s best for each individual child and each foster family.
Can you work and be a foster carer? Learn more about, becoming a foster parent with Compass or request an info pack below.