What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Foster Carer?

Mother And Child Walking

For many of those who are considering life as a foster carer, one of the first thoughts that pops to mind is “Do you need qualifications to be a foster carer?”

It’s an entirely understandable question considering the level of responsibility and dedication that comes with the role. However, there’s no need to jump to conclusions and be put off by the idea of having to acquire qualifications before applying or finding out more.

It doesn’t matter what your background is, or what experience you already have, as people from all walks of life can make fantastic foster parents. As such, it’s not necessary to start your application with existing qualifications in your back pocket.

Read on as we explore what you need to become a foster carer.

Do you need qualifications to be a foster carer?

Before becoming a foster carer, you don’t need to have any qualifications or previous experiences with childcare. Initial assessments of new foster carers will instead be based around how well we believe you could care for a child, and whether you can offer a safe space for a young person to live.

As part of this, we’ll assess whether you have enthusiasm for the role, how much resilience you’ll be able to show and if you’ll be able to offer kindness and care to vulnerable little ones. We’ll also look at your living environment, evaluating whether it’s safe and if there’s enough room for everyone to live comfortably.

However, while there is no need to have pre-existing qualifications, throughout your fostering journey, you will be required to complete training courses to ensure you are fully capable of providing a safe space for vulnerable children. At Olive Branch Fostering, we’ll make sure this is provided to you and our team will be there every step of the way.

Do you need to be a parent already?

Many new carers can also be concerned about their existing experience with looking after children. Of course, parents and those who have familiarity with childcare will be able to demonstrate that they have a safe and loving environment for foster children to live.

However, that’s not to say that individuals with no experience aren’t also welcomed with open arms. The main requirement for a foster carer is that they are able to positively make a difference to the life of a child. As such, having little to no experience with children doesn’t mean they can’t apply or that they won’t be accepted.

If an individual is hesitant about their ability to care for a child but would like to become a foster carer, there is little reason to worry. Your training will ensure you feel confident and competent in caring for a young person.

What pre-approval training is available?

When you begin your fostering journey, you will first have to complete pre-approval training. This is training that will ensure you are fully capable of looking after children, as well as give you the information and support needed to do the best job possible.

Journey to Foster

The Journey to Foster introductory pre-approval course is a three-day training session that is designed to help you decide if fostering is the right choice for you.

It takes you through the role of a foster carer, understanding children and young people, safe caring and how to be a resilient carer, alongside how you can support a young person leaving your care.

Skills to Foster

The Skills to Foster pre-approval course has been developed by The Fostering Network and has been created to prepare you for any challenges you may face. This includes practical, day-to-day skills, along with competency-based assessments and professional development qualifications.

What training is available for approved foster parents?

Following your pre-approval training which teaches you the basics, you’ll also be invited to complete additional courses. Some of these sessions will be mandatory, while others are simply there to help you upskill in certain areas of care.

Introductory training

In your first year of fostering, you’ll be required to complete introductory training. This won’t be an intensive course, but a series of sessions that will supplement your experiences as you begin your fostering journey.

The training will cover things such as Olive Branch Fostering policies and procedures as well as diversity, safeguarding, protection and first aid for children.

Training Support and Development Standards

All foster carers in England are required to complete the Training Support and Development Standards (TSD) within their first year after being approved. These are hosted by the Department for Education.

The sessions will be crucial for you when entering the role as it sets a benchmark as to what you should know, and be able to do, within the first 12 months of fostering. The TSD sessions will be hosted via online training, case study reviews and a workbook.

This will form an essential part of your training after approval, but don’t feel intimidated as there is plenty of help available. For example, your supervisors will play a key role in helping you to complete the workbooks in line with each deadline.

Ongoing training

There will also be plenty of opportunities for ongoing training. This training could focus on refreshing skills or learning specific information in line with specialist cases, including:

  • Attachment and loss
  • Transitions and endings
  • Parenting a child who has been sexually abused
  • Moving children on to adoption
  • Supporting children’s education
  • Fostering a child with a disability
  • Autism/ADHD
  • Supporting contact with birth parents
  • Coping with allegations

Start your fostering journey today

There’s no need to keep thinking; “what do I need to become a foster carer,” as it’s pretty simple – a safe environment and a passion for making a difference. Qualifications and previous experience aren’t a ‘must-have’ as our training will provide you with all the skills you need.

So, if you’re ready to start your fostering journey today, get in touch with our team for a friendly chat. Ask any questions you may have, talk through the application process or get started today.