Call for increased flexibility for foster carers combining fostering and work

The Fostering Network is calling on fostering services and employers in England to help increase the range of skills being brought into fostering by providing flexible working conditions for foster carers, in a new report published today by The Fostering Network.

Combining Fostering and Other Work, funded by the Department for Education, includes findings from a survey of foster carers who combine fostering with another job – the first of its kind in the country. 
It explores foster carers’ employment before and after approval to foster, sheds light on their experiences throughout the approval process (including the support they receive from their fostering service and their employer), shares their opinions about combining fostering with other work and identifies what kind of support would help them. 
The report highlights that:
52 per cent of foster carers who were required to give up work to foster think stopping work was the wrong decision;
29 per cent of foster carers who work outside the home were expected to reduce their working hours by their fostering service.
Foster carers also reported that they felt pressured to give up work before they were approved as foster carers.
Dr Lucy Peake, director of development at The Fostering Network, said: “To recruit, and more importantly retain, foster carers with a wide range of skills, fostering services should not impose blanket bans on employment outside of the home. 
“We know that it can be difficult to combine fostering with another job and it is not always realistic nor in a child’s best interests for a foster carer to work outside of the home. But we also know that some foster carers will have the time, capacity and energy to combine fostering and another career, while meeting their fostered children’s needs. This report shows us there is much that both employers and fostering services can do to make this work successfully for all involved.
“Moreover, where foster carers are told that to foster they have to give up work, they need assurances that they will be financially supported throughout the year and whether or not they have a placement.” 
The Fostering Network is developing the Fostering Family Friendly Employers scheme and will support employers to develop good practice. We will also be encouraging fostering services to improve flexibility and support for foster carers who also take on additional work. 
Children and families minister Edward Timpson, who grew up with over 80 fostered brothers and sisters said: “I want us to recruit more foster carers from a wider range of backgrounds and to remove barriers that may stand in their way.
“It’s perfectly possible to combine fostering with work when backed by a supportive and flexible employer. There are many excellent and supportive employers as well as fostering services out there, and I want all to now consider how they can go further in supporting employees who foster.”
You can download the full report, Combining Fostering and Other Work, from The Fostering Network’s website.