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How to navigate your career in fostering

26 Aug 2020
Posted by: Tom Mckenna
Social work is an extremely diverse profession, which offers you the chance to have a positive impact on the lives of society’s most vulnerable people. Many choose to specialise in fostering for the simple reason that it is a career like no other. Being responsible for the safeguarding of looked after children makes this one of the most rewarding jobs and an extremely impactful career path within social work.

In the UK there are around 68,000 children fostered by families, but this accounts for roughly 75% of young people in care. A quarter of all looked after children remain in care away from a family and one of the key jobs of any social worker within fostering is to help place these young people in a home. If you’re passionate about children’s social care and want to make a difference here’s how to navigate your career in fostering.

Qualifications

As a social worker, you’re either working directly with vulnerable people or indirectly through other professionals and managing sensitive cases. To fully comprehend all situations and ensure every person receives the care they deserve, there must be a certain level of training required to show you’ve developed your interpersonal and teamwork skills and learnt methods for reducing stress as a social worker.

Aside from a social worker assistant, all social work roles in fostering require a degree in social work, a diploma (DipSW) or a certificate of qualification (CQSW). An undergraduate degree is the most common avenue and half of your study will comprise of placements where you’ll get to apply the theory you’ve learnt and gain the experience necessary to take the next step in your career.

how to navigate your career in fostering

Starting off your career

Social worker assistant and social worker

Once you’ve got your qualifications, written your social work CV and received your DBS check you’re ready to start your social work career. When applying for a social worker role in fostering you’ll need to show evidence of working with children in a social work setting, perhaps during your placement or working as a social worker assistant. As an assistant, you’ll coordinate the activities that take place outside of a fostering agency, such as day excursions and group meetings, and help supervise social workers support foster carers. Both roles require an understanding of the legislation and frameworks within children’s social care and candidates who show evidence of endorsing a child-centred social work practice will stand out in the job seeking process.

Supporting foster carers

Supervising social worker

A supervising social worker job is the next step up in your fostering career and is a diverse role that will change depending on where you work. In an independent fostering agency, you’ll play a role in the recruitment and training of new foster carers. When working for a local authority you will also support carers through the fostering process as well as taking the cases to panel when necessary.

Advanced practitioners

Advanced practitioners have a very similar role but are slightly more senior. Within independent fostering agencies their main role is to undertake fostering assessments - recruit, screen and select suitable foster carers – and may extend to supervising these carers and provide guidance to junior social workers.

Joining the management team

Team manager

Once you’ve built up significant experience working with looked after children in a fostering setting and displayed strong leadership skills you’re ready to progress into a management role. Starting as a team manager you’ll work alongside the operations manager, supporting supervising social workers in the process of recruiting foster carers and help the fostering agency maintain a good or outstanding Ofsted rating. Additionally, you’ll be on hand to help the registered manager with daily tasks.

Registered manager

Registered managers are in charge of appraisals, disciplines and staff development as well as coordinating workloads. If you’re interested in working your way up to this role in children’s social work you’ll have the extremely fulfilling task of overseeing the entire care, education and therapy process within a fostering agency. 

Fostering and adoption manager

Alternatively, should you want to develop your career within a fostering charity you can become a fostering and adoption manager. In this role  you’ll be involved in the development and implementation of the business plan, using this as your guide when leading the fostering and adoption team. 

Flexible working

A fostering career can be an extremely flexible one. It’s common for social workers to take on a locum or contract job which allows them to work on an hourly basis yet remain a part of a team. In a part-time role, you’ll have the same responsibilities as a full-time social worker yet more time to dedicate to other commitments. 

Bring your fostering career to Charles Hunter

Charles Hunter Associates have been recruiting social workers in the UK for over 10 years, and have long since specialised in fostering and adoption recruitment. Register with us and you’ll be assigned a dedicated consultant who will find the job that’s right for you and make the process as seamless as possible. If you’re ready to take the next step in your career view our fostering social work jobs - our roles cover everything from full-time, locum, home-based and office-based.