Public Sector: Change for the better; Professional foster carers can make a real difference and enjoy a rewarding career, writes LOU PRENDERGAST.
THEY say looking after kids is a full-time job, and now being a foster carer can be a real, professional career opportunity.
People are being urged to grab the chance to embark on a career in foster caring as part of a new service launched by the Kibble Education and Care Centre in Paisley, the UK's largest multi-service centre working with children at risk.
The Intensive Fostering Service offers professional fees to foster carers of between pounds 23,500 and pounds 25,000 a year, up to 28 days paid respite a year and the chance to train for a nationally recognised social care qualification.
Successful applicants will also receive a maintenance allowance of between pounds 8625 and pounds 10,715, depending on the age of the young person placed.
A big part of the job satisfaction is that foster carers will know they've helped steer a previously troubled or troublesome boy along the straight and narrow into adulthood.
The Kibble service is unique, for not only is foster care organised, but the boys aged between 12 and 18 go to school at Kibble and the care centre organises leisure activities for them.
Prospective foster carers must live within a 25-mile radius of Kibble, so that the boy placed with their family can attend school there every day. The household will also need a separate bedroom for the young person and their own children must be older than the boy being looked after.
Applicants will need at least three years' experience in foster care or relevant childcare experience working in areas such as education, health, community or youth work.
Project manager Kay Gibson said: 'We are looking for people to become foster carers who have experience of working with adolescents, but not necessarily as a foster carer.
'Being a professional foster carer is a positive career choice. Teachers, nurses and social workers have become foster carers.
'Often they entered their former careers to make a positive contribution to the lives of young people, but the systems they previously worked in didn't allow them to make as much of a positive difference as they'd hoped.
'Working one to one as a foster carer gives people the chance to make that positive difference.'
She said: 'There's a generous income from the foster carer fees and realistic maintenance allowances to cover the costs of caring for a young person. And because there is a shortage of foster carers, the Government have given a tax allowance to carers, so a large proportion of the fee is not subject to tax.'
There is also the opportunity for carers to access training which can lead to an SVQ Level 3 or HNC qualification in social care.
Kay added: 'The boys who will be placed in foster care may have come from a disruptive family background and been unable to fit comfortably into mainstream schooling.
'They will need clear boundaries and the care and support they missed in earlier years. They need a family experience that will help them become responsible adults.'
For more details, complete the enquiry form at www.kibblefostering.org or phone 0141-842 3330.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY:; Kay Gibson is project manager of Kibble's Intensive Fostering Service
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||May 27, 2004|
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