‘Can I be a foster parent and work full time’ Is a popular question, but the reality about working and becoming a foster parent isn’t always straightforward. Many foster carers dedicate themselves to fostering full-time, while others continue to work. There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to working and fostering, but 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.
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 school holidays and days off.
That need for flexibility if you have a full time job is the main reason why many foster carers don’t work full time – but there are exceptions. Some work environments 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.
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 covers the day-to-day 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.
The professional positions available with Compass include ambassadors and educators:
- Carer Support Ambassadors support foster carers in different localities, helping them with specific needs identified by the social work team, such as transport or IT.
- Educational Ambassadors support educational outcomes for foster children by giving advice, offering coaching and mentoring, and attending meetings as representatives for foster carers and children.
- Experiential Educators work mostly on a one to one basis with children and young people in care who are unable to attend school. They teach skills like cooking and lead activities that encourage independence.Language Ambassadors work with children and carers whose first language is not English, including children seeking asylum or disabled children who use other forms of communication such as British Sign Language or Makaton.
- Recruitment Ambassadors are the face of the Compass Fostering family! They attend events to talk to people about fostering, distribute flyers and attend meetings with our recruitment team. They help spread the word about fostering so we can find a home for every child who needs one.
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.
Would you make a great foster carer? You can learn more about, becoming a foster parent with Compass or request an info pack below.