Home Children and Young People In the spotlight: What does a foster carer do?

In the spotlight: What does a foster carer do?

by Gemma Melling

Foster carers in Knowsley play a vital role in helping to look after vulnerable children and young people who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to live with their birth family.

Knowsley Council is once again appealing to anyone who thinks they may have what it takes to become a foster carer to come forward and find out more.

But what exactly is fostering, and why are foster carers so important? We explore the role they play in more depth…

What do foster carers do?

Foster carers provide a safe, caring and loving home for children (from birth to 18-years-old) who are not able to live with their own family.

When a child is taken into care, the local authority becomes responsible for their welfare. The ages, needs and cultural backgrounds of children in foster care in Knowsley are varied. But they all need positive adult role models to guide and support them.

Foster carers support children and young people, enabling them to enjoy their childhood and teenage years whilst encouraging and supporting them to grow into successful, independent, well-rounded and mature adults.

Foster carers can look after one child, or more, depending on how much room they have in their home. In Knowsley, we are particularly in need of foster carers who can look after teenagers and sibling groups, to help keep brothers and sisters together.

woman and boy

Why do children come into care?

There are various reasons why children of all ages need foster care. It could be due to parents having a learning disability, experiencing physical illness, mental health difficulties, living with domestic violence, misusing alcohol or other substances.   Children may have been carers for their parents and family, or they may have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. Sometimes children have experienced several of these issues at the same time.

Some children are able to return home when difficulties are resolved. Some are adopted, some stay in long term/permanent foster care, and others move on to live independently when they are ready to.

Maintaining contact with families

Whilst in foster care children are separated from their parents and extended families.  They may be separated from their brothers and sisters, their friends, school, the area they live in and everything familiar to them.  All of these children will have experienced emotional distress, which could be evident in different ways. (This will be discussed during the preparation training, which helps you gain the skills needed to deal with these issues.)

How does fostering differ from adoption?

Adoption is very different from fostering. When a child is adopted, all legal responsibility for a child’s welfare is transferred to their adoptive family and they are no longer part of their birth families. Fostering means the child can keep their ties with their birth family, and their family would usually be encouraged to have regular contact with the child.

What qualities does a foster carer need to have?

Here’s what our foster carers had to say:


“My advice to anyone thinking about fostering? If you’ve got a little bit of love to spare, and a bedroom, you don’t need anything else.”

– Carol Donoghue, fostering for Knowsley for 40+ years

“As long as you’ve got some love, some patience and time, and you’re compassionate, that’s all children need. They need to know they’re wanted.”

– Brenda Archer, fostering for Knowsley for 40+ years

“To be a foster carer you have to love kids. But you’ve also got to have patience, and not be judgemental”

– Rita and Colin, fostering for Knowsley for nearly 30 years

“A foster carer has to be a caring person, somebody who is tolerant and doesn’t judge.”

– Stephen & Norma – fostering for Knowsley for more than 10 years


Am I eligible to foster?

The main quality a foster carer needs is the ability to provide care for a child in need. Other factors, including your marital status, sexuality, wealth or education are not important. If you have considered fostering, but assumed that you may not be eligible for any reason, please take a look at some of the common misconceptions about who can and can’t foster – you may find that you would be eligible after all.

Find out more about fostering:

Call Foster for Knowsley on 0151 443 4535.

Visit the Foster for Knowsley website.

Like the Foster for Knowsley Facebook page.