Variety is certainly the spice of life and Affinity have always been proud that our foster carers come from all walks of life and backgrounds. What makes our team of carers special isn’t just about their diverse lives, it’s also about the skills that they bring to the team from their previous careers. While we obviously always train our team to the highest standards, there are certain transferable skills that also perfectly fit the role of a foster carer. We’ve talked before about how useful transferable parenting skills can be in fostering, but what about the skills that you acquired during employment?
We think we can all agree that every workplace and job requires a degree of patience at some point. Whether it’s a customer service assistant dealing with an angry complainant, or a manager training a new staff member who doesn’t quite understand, being patient is a skill we all learn during our working lives (we hope).
The ability to be patient is also essential for any successful foster carer. The young people we work with have come from very different family situations and, usually, carry a lot of emotional baggage with them. Patiently working through their coping mechanisms and strategies, gives them the opportunity to build a caring, trusting, and nurturing relationship with an adult, something which many of them may never have experienced.
Being able to effectively listen and communicate are listed by most recruiters as some of the most easily transferrable and desirable skills. It stands to reason that they are also essential for foster carers. Communicating well is essential for any successful fostering placement. This includes being able to communicate with empathy and to show a young person in your care that you are trying to understand what they are going through.
Many young people in the care system find it hard to vocalise and articulate their feelings and emotions. This means that, in some cases, they may act out or escalate situations. Having the ability to provide a way for them to comfortably express themselves gives them the opportunity to move towards a brighter future.
Using common sense and having a practical approach to life are ideal skills for anyone considering fostering as a career. Whether it is knowing when and who to ask for help and advice, or solving a problem that a young person in your care may have, the ability to find a workable and practical solution to a problem is an extremely desirable transferable skill.
Attached to this is also the ability to be flexible in a given situation. Being able to adapt to anything that’s thrown in to your path and work out a way round it, provides the resilience needed to be an outstanding foster carer.
Foster carers have to be organised. Whether it’s managing a busy household with young people attending different schools, ensuring that daily record keeping is up to date, or sticking to a budget, if you had to be organised in your previous job roles you can definitely transfer this skill.
Having organised routines provide young people in care with a level of stability that they may not have previously experienced. It also enables you to be prepared for the unexpected and solve any problems as they arise.
This list is by no means exhaustive and Affinity offers extensive training and support to all of our foster carers. If you’ve been mentally ticking off boxes as you’ve read this, and are interested in welcoming a young person into your home, we’d love to hear from you.