Skills and Qualities to Foster
Foster carers bring all kinds of life experience to the table when they take on the role. There are no specific qualifications that you need, but obviously you need to like children and want the best for them. It is helpful if you have some experience of looking after children, although of course this does not have to have been in a professional capacity it could be from looking after your own children.
If you ask most foster carers what skills and qualities you need to look after a foster child, the number one response is always a “sense of humour”. I always think that’s an encouraging start to any role! Other qualities you will need include:
- Security and stability in your own life, to be able to offer the same to a child
- Willingness to learn and adapt
- Time to offer a child and their needs/development
- Able to accept a child as they are and not judge them for what has happened in their life
- Ability to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses
- Be able to ask for help when needed
- Be flexible
- Energy - emotional and physical energy to participate in a busy child’s life
- Show resilience and have “stick-ability”
Some roles - for example looking after teenagers, or being a support carer - carry their own specific needs. These are explained in the relevant web pages
- Read more about Types of Fostering
Age: The minimum legal age at which you can apply to foster is 21 years old.
Where you live: It does not matter where you live, so long as your situation is stable and you have space to offer a foster child - they will need their own room in most cases. You could live on your own, or with a partner (gay or straight, married or cohabiting).
Health: Foster carers need to be in reasonable health to look after a child. Hampshire County Council supports children in its care to live in healthy environments and this policy includes smoking. If you smoke or live with someone who smokes, please discuss this with us so we can explain our policy and what it may mean for you.
Life Experience: If you or a member of your household has had a criminal conviction in the past, this will not necessarily stop you from fostering - it depends what the conviction was for and how long ago, so please ask us about this.