The benefit of working from home or remote working has long been a subject of debate; Is it a positive development or not? Recent reports reveal that across the UK and US home-working actually makes for a more productive workforce, increasing morale, enabling older generations to remain in work longer and impacting positively on the environment.
As a foster carer, you could be one of the increasingly happy and more satisfied workers whose daily work takes place at home.
But what is it really like to work as a foster carer where the working day plays out over 24 hours and the office never shuts down?
For most home workers, there are some brilliant perks – a kettle at your fingertips, a fridge at your disposal, no commute and only an occasional need for formal meetings.
Fostering is the same - but what else can you expect?
A little known fact is that foster carers earn good remuneration and receive generous tax breaks from the government. Training is free and 24 hour support, 365 days a year is a promise at Anchor Foster Care. Giving back and the fulfilment of helping a young person grow are also benefits of the role.
Like other parents, foster carers will do school runs, make visits to the dentist and doctors and take foster children to get haircuts, and help with homework.
Responsibilities will also include however making sure the home is a safe environment for looked after children. Testing fire alarms, removing or safely keeping sharp objects and medicines out of reach, and ensuring children and young people are not exposed to danger in is part of the role.
Also, not unlike traditional stay at home roles, when children are away from the home at school or other settings, there may be paper work to do and meetings to attend.
Foster carers are often visited by a social worker or other key personnel, and of course you will need to attend if an incident or accident occurs.
And while some children may be very independent and have care plans that enable them to go out un-escorted, others may be entirely dependent. You might have to help plan their outings, go along as a chaperone, driver or to otherwise support the young person.
For our Specialist Foster carers including therapeutic and disability foster parents, working from home could mean making some changes. Mobility equipment, equipment to easily use the bathroom, and specialist medical equipment may need to be fitted.
The general hub bub of family life can be distracting when you’re attempting to write an email but the pleasure of having family around more of the time is a huge bonus for some. Getting out more as a group and doing fun things, watching family members grow and interact with each other in positive ways and being able to be present for regular family activities like meals together at the table all make the foster carer role exciting and special. You can bring your pets to ‘work’ with you too!
Unlike other work from home roles, you’re also less likely to suffer with feelings of isolation. Regular support sessions and meetings will get you out of the house, provide structure and give additional opportunities for interaction.
Variety is also a certainty, as young people placed could come from the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia or anywhere. It makes for a fantastic opportunity to learn about new cultures – all from the comfort of your own home.
Caring for young people and being a positive role model should be your main focus while working from home but you will have other regular duties that are closer in nature to typical work-from-home roles.
Working from home can be brilliant but for some it can feel unstructured. Here are our tips for managing working from home as a foster carer:
Keep in touch with your supervising social worker or duty manager. They are available 24 hours day every day of the year and are there to support you.
Make sure we can stay in touch with you by checking text messages regularly, emails, and keeping your phone nearby.
Keep daily logs – not only are these a requirement but they will help you keep track of the progress your young person is making which can help you feel more in control and positive about your own abilities.