Skill levels, explained by our advisers

Something you may have noticed across our website is mention of Skill Levels. This is a term used in fostering, to indicate each carer’s level of experience and knowledge with looked after children.


Who better to explain how our Skill Levels work than Sarah, a member of our dedicated fostering adviser team? Here is Sarah’s explanation of everything you need to know.


What are Skill Levels for?

Fostering requires a lot of different skills and we want to reward our carers for the unique ways they can help looked after children.


Your Skill Level will decide two things: the amount of financial support you receive, and what we feel your assessed skills are (against the skills level criteria). With more experience and know-how you’ll be better able to look after children with more complex needs. We want to provide the right level of support to make sure you can do this properly, and that includes financial help.


It’s also one of the factors we take into account when finding the right home for a looked after child.


How many Skill Levels are there?

We have four Skills Levels to reflect the different experience and skills that foster carers have and their role within the wider fostering community.


Level 1 is usually where new foster carers. After you have gained 12 months of fostering experience and training you can progress to Level 2.


Skills levels essentially help provide a payment that reflects your skills and experience. During your time as a foster carer with Rotherham we will provide you with a clear pathway to progress through the levels. We will also give you information about the expectations that come with each of the skills levels.


For example, as a Skills Level 2 carer you would be able to evidence the skills required to care for young people who are more likely to need support due to earlier childhood experiences. You might also be able to supervise family contacts.


As a Skills Level 3 carer you may be asked to contribute to professional assessments of children and young people. At this level you'll have completed lots of therapeutic training to support your skill set. This can help you to care for a child who may have experienced living in different foster homes, and may require more support to manage their emotions and behaviours.


As a Skills Level 4 carer you are likely to offer a more specialist placement. For example, you could house a teenager who may have lived in many homes previously, providing stability. Level 4 carers also could work with children with disabilities, or maybe a parent and child placement. As a Level 4 carer you would work as a foster carer full time and support other foster carers.


Our Skills Levels mean you can make a decision about your future aspirations as a foster carer, while taking into account the needs of your wider family- and what you enjoy most about fostering.


How do I know what Skill Level I’ll be?

Most new foster carers start at Level 1. However, we recognise that some prospective carers already have some excellent transferrable skills from their job, eg. teachers and teaching assistants. Your role with children could mean you can start fostering at Level 2.


We discuss our payment schemes at our Pathway to Foster home meetings, and can offer you an idea of which level you could start at.


When would I become a Level 3 or 4 carer?

Level 3 carers usually have 2+ years of fostering under their belt, and start to care for children with more complex needs. Foster carers at Skill Level 3 will have completed advanced safeguarding courses and developed more therapeutic re-parenting skills. As a Level 3 carer you may help with the recruitment of new carers, and act as a buddy to others.


Level 4 carers have a lot of fostering experience, as well as having undertaken more complex training courses with us. Our Level 4 carers are able to provide specialist therapeutic care with the children and young people who need it most. They are likely to experienced in caring for children who go missing, or are at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation or Child Criminal Exploitation. They will most often be caring for teenagers or children who have had to move from another home suddenly and require emergency care. They may also care for children who have a life-limiting illness, young parents who need a house match along with their child, as well as children who have experienced lots of moves.


How long does it take to become a new Skill Level?

I’ve given some idea of how long it may be before you approach a new Skill Level, but this isn’t a strict rule for everyone. We know everybody’s fostering journeys are different so your progression is going to be unique! Every year a foster carer has a review with their social worker, which is an excellent time to discuss whether you are ready to progress to the next Skill Level.


Regardless of your Skill Level, we’ll do our best to support you for your rewarding vocation.


Start your fostering journey with us

If you'd like to start fostering in Rotherham, a great first step is to speak with our experienced support team. Book a call back at a time that suits you. All our call backs are confidential.