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Top TEN skills for foster carers

We treat our foster carers as professionals – they play a really important role in a young person’s life and make a difference by doing little things every day.

So when we were thinking about the important skills you need to be a foster carer we asked them – after all, they’re the experts!

1. Someone you would feel comfortable leaving your own children with

Fostering is when you look after someone’s child in your own home, which is a big responsibility. It’s really important that you can be natural and authentic when you interact with a young person so that you can build up a strong, positive relationship.

2. Someone willing to get their own family involved

Having the support of your relatives, friends and neighbours can make a huge difference when you’re fostering. Everyone in your life should treat your foster child exactly like your own child so that they feel a sense of belonging and have the chance to experience a normal childhood.

3. Someone with a big heart, who can show genuine love

Children in care have sometimes lacked stability in their life and can be wary of becoming too settled with one family. If you can show them that you truly care about their life and their decisions, it will make a huge difference to their self-esteem.

4. Someone who has coped with challenges in their own life

Going through difficult periods and coming out on the other side gives you greater empathy and understanding. You can use these experiences in fostering by reflecting on what helped you during these times and offering the same support to a vulnerable young person.

5. Someone with self-awareness and the ability to reflect

Fostering is a really challenging job and sometimes everyone needs a bit of a break. It’s OK to take a step back and ask for help, whether it’s from your social worker, family or friends.

6. Someone who is willing to break out of their comfort zone

St Christopher’s offers regular training sessions to make sure you’re the best foster carer you can be because we think this gives better results for children and young people. Our carers all agree that they come away having learnt something new each time.

7. Someone willing to work with lots of other people as part of a team

As a foster carer you’re part of a team looking after a child or young person. You will have to be open to everyone’s ideas and suggestions, keeping the young person at the forefront of your mind.

8. Someone who is confident enough to advocate for the child in a professional way

Sometimes young people can find it challenging to express their opinions, particularly if it goes against the decisions that adults want to make. A carer should be able to speak up on the child’s behalf and make sure their voice is heard.

9. Someone open-minded and able to think outside of the box

Looked After Children often have different experiences to the majority of young people. Even if you can’t relate to these experiences personally you should be open-minded, non-judgemental and empathetic.

10. Someone fun with a sense of humour

Above all, you need to know how to have fun!

Could you foster?