Foster care is full of terms that you may not have come across before. Here at Fostering Rotherham, we like to make things simple. In this blog, we look at Skill Levels: what they are, why we have them and what they mean for our foster carers.
What is a Skill Level?
Skill levels are indications of a foster carers’ experience and knowledge. At Fostering Rotherham, we have four skill levels. Your skill level affects the amount of financial support you’ll receive and the needs of the children you’ll be matched with.
The financial support we offer breaks down into two parts: the fostering fee and the fostering allowance. The fostering fee is the component that is affected by your skill level.
We make sure that our foster carers are confident in their ability to care for our looked after children. A foster carer’s skill level - along with the input of the foster carer themself - is one of the factors that we will take into account when finding a suitable home for a looked after child.
How do we determine your skill level?
We know that everyone has the potential to bring something special to a looked after child’s life. Most important is the capacity to give care, respect and compassion — that’s really what’s at the heart of being a great foster carer. We also understand that our foster carers are always keen to learn more in order to give the children in their care the very best possible start in life.
As you progress through your journey as a foster carer, you’ll therefore be provided with a wealth of ongoing training opportunities that will allow you to deepen your understanding of how to care for a looked after child. You’ll develop a range of skills, building on your natural abilities as a carer and learning how to advocate for looked after children. Your first training experience will be our Skills to Foster course. Here, you can meet our team and build relationships with other new carers.
Most newly approved foster carers start at skill level 1 after completing their Skills to Foster training. At this skill level, you can take part in learning opportunities such as first aid, safer care, equality and diversity, and record keeping – but that’s just the beginning of what we offer. Our foster carers tell us they really enjoy our easy-to-access, Rotherham based training.
After completing skill level 1 training, many choose to progress to level 2. To qualify for this there are a number of practical training modules covering useful knowledge that will help you in your day-to-day life as a foster carer and help you get the most out of your role.
Some people enter foster care with particular professional experience that means they have extra skills to bring to the role. For example, a teaching assistant would have the knowledge and confidence to care for a child who may need extra help with their behaviour. This experience would mean that a teaching assistant would automatically enter into fostering at skill level 2.
The two following skill levels are designed to equip foster carers with additional skills to work with children with further needs. As a skill level 3 carer, you’ll be able to care for children with more complex needs and provide support to the wider fostering community in Rotherham. You can become a skill level 3 carer once you have 2 years’ experience as a foster carer in Rotherham. Training and development would include advanced safeguarding, therapeutic parenting and supporting new foster carers.
Skill level 4 foster carers have a number of years’ experience behind them and have completed the training we provide to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to carry out specialist therapeutic caring. Skill level 4 carers cover a wide range of needs but the focus is on physically and emotionally supporting the child in your care who, for example, may have: a life limiting illness; a mental health diagnosis; an illness requiring treatment; a history of substance misuse or has entered the care system later.
Your progression through skill levels
Just as every pathway to becoming a foster carer is different, each foster carer’s progression through the skill levels will be unique. As you take advantage of our development pathways and you gain more lived experience, we’ll reflect this in a re-evaluation of your skills.
So wherever you’re at in your fostering journey, you can be sure that the skills you’ve gained throughout your career - both within fostering and in former roles - are recognised and reflected in your pay and responsibilities.
Learn more about fostering in Rotherham
If you want to find out what skill level you may begin your fostering journey at, you can book a call back with a member of our experienced team at a time that suits you. All our call backs are confidential.