Fostering

Training foster carers

Key findings

Preparation training before approval as a foster carer is now universal.

After approval, nearly all agencies across the public, independent and private sectors provide NVQ training. Some agencies have further developed their programmes and provide specialist training in the areas that foster carers request such as:

To be effective, foster carers and social workers must know and use the same approach to training.

Foster carers appreciate training and can often point out the gaps. Many agencies are developing opportunities for foster carers to become mentors and assessors for other carers.

Some carers report difficulties in attending training because of childcare and work commitments. Experienced carers sometimes think that the training they get is not sufficiently stimulating.

Information technology has helped training developments.

Practice points

What we know from research

Preparation training

The training of foster carers has become an established part of fostering practice, and preparation training before approval as a foster carer is now universal. In Sellick and Connolly’s national survey of independent fostering providers (32), 100 per cent of agencies provided preparation training.

Ongoing training

Nearly all agencies across the public, independent and private sectors provide NVQ training after approval. Research studies (54), (94), (96) have identified three key areas in which foster carers want training:

Training by itself is not sufficient to create and retain experienced carers. Also training should be integrated into the service as a whole and not just limited to foster carers. For example, if carers receive training in using a particular approach to children’s difficulties, social workers must also know and use the same approach (2).

A clear relationship between the level of training provided and placement success has not been demonstrated, and more research in this area is needed. However, there is plenty of evidence that suggests carers appreciate training and they are often able to point out the gaps in this area. Foster carers find it difficult to attend training if they are working, have children and foster children under school age and if they are lone carers. Some experienced carers also reported that the training is insufficiently challenging (3).

Agencies are using research to develop practice: the training of foster carers has become an embedded and integral part of the overall service. Many agencies have developed training so that foster carers are becoming mentors and assessors for other carers (1).

Information technology has also assisted developments.