A career in foster care can be extremely rewarding, as well as offering a competitive fee and paid holidays. You could make a huge difference to the life of a child, and help tackle a shortfall of 480 carers in the South West and 7,180 across the UK*. People from all walks of life can become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age, including single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation.  The only requirement is a spare room for each foster child.

Johan Strydom, fostering service manager at Five Rivers Child Care for the South West, describes five various career options available to aspiring foster carers in Bristol.

  1. Short break (respite) care

Like any job, it’s important to rest and recuperate after a challenging period at work.  As a respite carer, you would take foster children on short term placements – these could last a single evening, day, or weekend – to help support parents or carers by offering them a break.  You could remain flexible, taking children and young people from a variety of backgrounds or circumstances.  At times, you may be the last lifeline for a child in dire need of support, perhaps in the case of emergency where a child needs a home for a night.

  1. 28-Day emergency placements

This type of care is intended to bridge the gap between foster placements and reunification with friends, family, or returning home.  The placements are well suited to those previously employed in roles such as nursing or in residential care, which involve easily transferable skills and qualities.  You would be looking after children under the age of 18 for 28 days or less, during which you would receive an increased fostering allowance. 

  1. Long term foster placements

‘Long-term’ foster care is as much about a specific care plan for the foster child as it is the longer period of time the child is in care.  Usually, this type of care will result in the foster child remaining with the foster family until adulthood, with placements tailored specifically to the individual needs of the child and what the parents can offer.  Five Rivers offer extensive therapeutic training to foster carers, and the examples of children benefiting from long-term placements carers specialising in therapeutic care are plentiful. It also means a family can be reassured that a child will stay with them for a long period, meaning this type of placement is often preferred by foster families with biological children living at home.

  1. Specialist fostering

If you have previous experience working with children with specific care requirements (such as if they have special educational needs, medical needs or significant behavioural challenges), you could be perfectly suited to specialist fostering.  Your experience could prove invaluable in helping children achieve their full potential in home and school life, and you will be able to offer a level of empathy and understanding that they have perhaps not experienced before. 

  1. Head office

There are a variety of administrative support roles available in Five Rivers’ offices which span the length of England.  For more than 25 years, our office staff have helped Five Rivers grow and continue to offer the finest level of care to young people who need it most.  Working in our offices, your support would help ensure senior decision makers have the necessary time to direct the future of Five Rivers.  You will face new challenges day-by-day, each requiring the application of strong organisational skills and adaptability, and the ability to think proactively under pressure.

For more information about a career in fostering call Five Rivers on 01722 622492 or visit five-rivers.org/fostering

*Fostering statistics available here: thefosteringnetwork.org.uk