5 Skills You Need To Thrive As A Foster Parent

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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Happy Friday everybody! I am currently away on vacation with my awesome family. While I'm away, I'm pleased to open my blog to some fantastic guest bloggers. This is a post by Emily Bradbury. She writes on behalf of Foster Care Associates (FCA), an agency for fostering in the UK. Check out more info about the agency she writes for by clicking here.

Becoming a foster care giver is undoubtedly one of the most important and significant changes you can make in your life, but many of us spend months, if not years, considering whether it is right for us before taking the plunge. Having a young family, renting a house that may not be suitable, or the thought of giving up your full time job, are all common factors that delay fostering applications.

As with any great the experience, fostering it is at times difficult and not for the faint hearted, so taking a look at what we consider to be the five most essential skills to foster successfully could help you decide whether life as a foster care giver is right for you. If you are considering a change of direction here are some of the most important skills and personality traits you’re going to need:

A love of children

This might seem obvious, but if you have a real passion for children life as a foster care giver is going to be a lot more rewarding. A warm, nurturing and paternal/maternal nature will make a foster child feel cared for.

Although not essential, it is preferable that you have past experience of caring for children; whether as a teacher or a nurse or through having biological children; otherwise you may not be prepared for the experience of caring for a child full time.

Patience and emotional strength

At times every child will test your patience, but you need to remember the suffering and distress a foster child has likely experienced and think about why this might make them behave the way they do.

You need to remain committed to the children through both good and bad times, and you need to be able to create and stick to boundaries that your foster child will respect. Although kindness is important the child needs to see you as an authority and somebody they respect as well.

A good listener/communicator

As a foster care giver you will need to be able to communicate effectively with the child you care for and show them compassion and interest. You need to be able to gage the level of communication appropriate to an individual child, especially if they have special needs that make communication difficult, such as autism or other special needs.

It is often helpful and therapeutic for a child to be able to discuss the tough experiences they have been through with you. If you are a person who is approachable and a good listener you can facilitate this.

As well as communicating effectively with the child, you will also need to keep in regular contact with your fostering agency, the child’s teachers, therapists and social workers, and encourage the child to maintain contact with their friends, family and community where appropriate.


Fostering requires a lot of energy, both physically and emotionally, to keep up with the child. There is no upper age limit for foster care – anyone over the age of 21 can foster with the FCA, but you should consider whether you have the energy to do your best for a foster child day after day if you want to take up fostering in retirement.

Adaptability/Easy going nature

Becoming a foster care giver can mean dropping everything at the last minute to help a child. If you undertake emergency placements, a child who needs somewhere to stay urgently could arrive at your door in the middle of the night, and stay for a couple of days or a number of months.

The welfare of the fostered child has to come first, which can interfere with your social life and your regular routine. Luckily you can find support in fellow foster care givers in your area by getting involved in events and support groups, and there is always an agency staff member or social worker on hand for help and advice should you need it.

Having the chance to turn a vulnerable child’s life around and provide them with a safe and loving home is a special opportunity. You don’t need to be rich, part of a couple or have any special child care qualifications to be a great foster care giver, but you must possess determination, strength and love for children to succeed.

If you think life as a foster care giver could be right for you why not enquire today?

Current (or past) foster care providers, what else would you add to this list?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

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Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

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Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

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Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

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Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.