Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I was just in the act of replying to someone who posted a comment on the blog, the person is gearing up to start fostering, about to do "Skills To Foster".

It took me back to when I was there.

When you apply to become a foster carer you have to build a portfolio which is basically a file containing information about all the things that you've done in your life that are likely to be some kind of help in fostering. If I remember right, the file is called "Skills To Foster".

I think most people don't realise how much skill they have acquired.

Suppose you've had children or neices and nephews of your own, that's an obvious place to start. You might write a bit about how you tackled the 'parenting' job with them. You may have had brothers and sisters who you shared your childhood with, memories about dealing with issues with them, it's all relevant. Your social worker helps and guides you, and encourages you to write up how you dealt with the difficult things, which always happen, that's life. There's no glossing over the fact that life is no bowl of cherries all the time.

Maybe you had sleepovers for your children. Helped out at their school. Maybe you were a babysitter for a neighbour when you were in your teens. Maybe you or your partner helped run a junior football team one of your children played for. Maybe you used to attend a Youth Club where you ended up running the coffee bar. 

You might have to track down the family you babysat for and get them to write a letter saying you did the job well. Perhaps your old Youth Club leader can pen a few lines about how you were responsible and trustworthy, and knew how to deal with some of the streetwise kids.

Before you know it, you have a portfolio. You probably think it's not much, but if it keeps you on track it's one of the most important books ever written, because it will result in loads of children having a better chance in life thanks to you and the book you've put together.

On a purely personal note, I asked a mum of a disabled child who I helped get a place in an activity group to write me a note.

The mum sent me two sides of A4 about how much my little effort meant to her and the child, and how valuable his experience was in the group. The first time I read it I cried, and because I was alone in the house I made big crying noises because it was honestly the first time in my life I realised I could make a difference, in fact I already had, without knowing it. I'd never previously got more than a "Cheers then see you next week" from the mum, I guess because we're British.

My point is this; if you're in any doubt, come fostering. I guarantee you will have the chance to feel better about everything.

Good luck to the potential carer, and thanks for reminding me of my early days.

Good luck to you too, if fostering is in your mind.


  1. Ella here - some jobs (like working in some types of shop) involve lots of contact with youngsters plus you could mention things like being a school governor.
    Another thing - don't expect to make a big difference straight away. It will be loads and loads of tiny little steps, almost never giant jumps.

  2. Hi Ella, I hope you are well and happy. You're right, every contact with young people is an opportunity.
    I'm a big fan of your second point. Taking time is very important. I measure progress by atomic microscope proportions. You're so right to say "almost never giant jumps", because maybe they do happen I guess, but I've personally never had a Hollywood moment, myself in fostering, just millimetre by millimetre.
    All my love

  3. Skills to foster is the course that fostering Network produce, it is a 2/3 day course that isbought in by and put on by the local authority/agency and prospective foster carers have to attend this course as part of their assessment/ introduction to fostering. It covers in brief many area s of fostering and allows people to have an insight as to what is required of a foster carer both the positives and the negatives. I know this as I co lead the course.