A foster carer needs access to various tools and resources to meet the needs of young people and children in their care. A vital part of ensuring a foster carer is adequately equipped to do the best for a foster child is fostering training.
The importance of fostering training
In order for foster placements to be successful, as they must be, a foster carer needs to draw on a range of skills and knowledge. Fostering training is the way of equipping foster carers with the skills and knowledge in a way that ensures they can be practically applied. Training is required for an excellent reason.
However, for foster carers in England, a certain level of training is also a statutory requirement. Here, all foster carers must complete the Training Support and Development Standards within 12 to 18 months of their approval as a foster carer. Responsibility for this sits with the Department for Education (DofE). In effect, this forms the basis of all further fostering training.
The Training Support and Development Standards (TSD) are really just the minimum benchmarks. They require you to present evidence in a number of different ways in order to meet assessment for various criteria. However, this shouldn’t be daunting if you are fostering through a supportive agency as they should be providing ample support.
The responsibility of fostering service providers
The fostering service provider that you work through as a foster carer is responsible for ensuring you are sufficiently trained to fulfil your role. This isn’t just about ensuring the child in your care receives the care they need, deserve and are entitled to: It is also about ensuring you feel competent and capable.
Let’s look at the distinct areas of training:
Pre-approval training is far removed from classrooms and exam papers. However, it is intended to give you a realistic understanding of the foster carer’s role. This is possible by forum-style opportunities with other foster carers and social workers in an informal setting, over several days. Talking through and discussing the realities of foster care helps you to gain the grounding you need for future success.
We call this ‘Journey to Foster’, and it is a simple part of our assessment process. Other agencies offer similar patterns for pre-approval training. You should always look for this type of training, as it ensures a successful and realistic start to a foster care career. It should dispel myths and allay fears.
Furthermore, this training should give a good framework for how foster care works and how to offer this care safely.
You can find out more about pre-approval training here.
Further fostering training
Following basic training, it is essential that new training is routinely available to foster carers. This enables them to work within current best practice frameworks, as well as progress their careers, perhaps to take on specialist placements. The best training should be expert-led and focused on young people and children in care.
Topics covered in further training can be wide-ranging. For example, child protection training on a regular basis is essential for meeting the basic safeguarding principles for cared-for children. On the other hand, training on life story work, or identity and self-esteem, is vital to enable the secure development of the child. Those working with teens and older children may benefit from training regarding the transition to adulthood and life beyond care.
An additional area of fostering training is therapeutic foster care training. Foster carers occupy a unique position in a child’s life. Having the specialist skills to enable a child who has experienced loss, separation, trauma or abuse – to trust an adult – is vital for many foster carers. This requires a deep understanding of attachment.
Furthermore, depending on your circumstances, other training courses may be sensible. These will depend on the nature of your household and the unique issues presenting in your foster child. For example, training courses are available specifically for men who foster, or how to work with HIV.
Enabling change through training
Training is crucial to foster carers achieving strength in their own career, but importantly, meeting the needs of the child in their care.
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