One of the questions asked most frequently by prospective foster carers is “can I work and foster at the same time?” The short answer is yes, you can – with some stipulations. Read on, and we’ll get into everything you need to know about working while fostering.Read more: Working while fostering – can I do it?
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What are the rules?
Before we get into the hows and whys of working while fostering, it’s a good idea to get a grasp of the basic rules and regulations around it. The best way to break down working while fostering is to look at the different ages groups and fostering types:
If you’re fostering a child between the ages of zero and five, you have to be at home full time. Due to the young age of your foster child, you have to be available at all times to tend to their needs – they also won’t be in school, so will require greater care. You will also have to be available for appointments and meetings related to your foster child’s care and your own foster care development.
If your foster child is attending school you can work – you do, however, need to be available to attend appointments or meetings with the school (as well as all foster care related meetings). You’ll also have to be available throughout the school holidays.
What if we’re a couple?
If you’re a couple, you need to work alternate hours to ensure someone is available to attend to your foster child’s needs. This means you can both work, or one of you can work.
Usually, one member of the couple will be designated the “main” foster carer – allowing the other member of the couple to work in some capacity.
What if I’m a supported lodgings foster carer?
As a supported lodgings carer, your role is a little different. Your role is to offer a bridge to independence for young people in supported lodgings – helping them develop their life skills while remaining in the secure environs of a family setting.
As such, you have a little more leeway in terms of your own working life. If you’re in the city centre and your young person has access to direct transport links – like the bus or the train – you should be able to work. As with all types of fostering, you are required to have some availability for meetings.
What can I do to make working while fostering feasible?
Working while fostering can be difficult. Your foster child needs as much care and attention as possible, and work can sometimes detract from your ability to offer your full self to them. However, with careful planning and prioritising, you can make it work – literally.
Discuss your new situation with your boss/manager – they can help you make arrangements around hours and availability to suit your needs. If you have a partner, divide out roles and responsibilities around your foster child. Most of all you need to make time for your foster child – once you know you can provide fully for them, you’re on the way.
What types of fostering would suit someone working full time?
If you are going to work full-time, there are certain types of foster care that might suit you better. While full-time fostering is a full-time commitment, supported lodgings may be a better way to go. Supported lodgings is all about offering care and support to young people over the age of sixteen in need of a home environment. Carers provide these young people with an opportunity to learn the skills required to live independently.
As a supported lodgings carer, you are helping your young person become accustomed to the realities of the world. As such, having your own working life could be a benefit here, as you can use your experience to teach them about the working world and all the responsibilities it entails. Supported lodgings is about instilling independence in your young person as they enter adulthood. This independence could potentially allow you to work and support your young person at the same time.
Working while fostering can be a challenge – but it’s a manageable one. If you have questions you can read more about foster care in Ireland.