Every day, foster carers do an amazing job for the young people they care for, and the number one priority of a foster carer is always the wellbeing of the children they care for. But what about the mental health of foster parents and their own wellbeing?
Fostering is an incredibly rewarding role, but also one that can be demanding and present lots of challenges along the way. At TACT, wellbeing is incredibly important to us, and we know that foster carers who feel happy, valued and supported are able to carry out their role to a much better standard.
It’s for this reason we have a group of Foster Carer Wellbeing Advocates, comprising representatives from our foster carers and staff. The group meets regularly to ensure our wellbeing offer reflects what carers want and looks at how we can continually improve the offer!
So how do TACT support the wellbeing of our foster carers?
Foster Carer Mental Health
The issue of foster carer mental health is a vital one to us – we know that foster carers with good mental health are able to fulfill their role without added stresses and complications. It’s for this reason we provide all our foster carers with a subscription to the Calm app, which offers thousands of hours’ worth of guided meditation, breathwork, motivation and movement videos. Foster carers also have access to Help@Hand, a service connecting foster carers and their family members with a number of health services, including up to 8 consultations for mental health support with a UK based doctor.
Finding opportunities to relax and de-stress can be difficult for foster carers, but it’s vital that they are taken advantage of. To this end, we’ve provided our foster carers with access to Breathways who focus on breathing techniques to reduce anxiety and manage stress. The sessions create an opportunity to relax and de-stress in the moment and provide valuable tools to support wellbeing at home, helping our carers to be happy, healthy, and resilient.
As well as your membership to the Calm app, as a TACT foster carer we’ll pay for your membership to The Fostering Network, a national charity who support everyone involved with fostering. Your membership here includes a 24/7 stress support service, legal protection insurance, a 24-hour legal helpline and learning and development opportunities. As a member, you’ll also be entitled to a 10% discount with Haven Holidays at locations across the UK and Europe, helping you to get some much needed time to rest and relax!
We know that foster carers value opportunities to learn and make themselves the best carer they can be. For that reason, we make sure our foster carers have access to Research in Practice, a platform providing up-to-date, evidence-informed research and practical resources. Research in Practice brings together academic research, practice expertise and the experiences of people accessing services. They then apply this knowledge to develop a range of resources and learning opportunities, as well as delivering tailored services, expertise and training.
Wellbeing isn’t just about looking after our physical and mental health – being comfortable financially also has big implications on our wellbeing. Being a charity means that money isn’t unlimited, but our foster carers are the lifeblood of TACT and we always strive to offer the best support we can. We acted quickly to the wider situation across the country during the cost-of-living crisis with a £350,000 financial support package to support our carers. We’re now delighted to announce that these changes to fees have been made permanent, with a general fee uplift of £14 per week.
In addition, the allowance we pay to carers to cover costs during holidays will now be paid for 13 weeks across the year, rather than only the 6 weeks summer holidays. We know that foster carers are not in it for the money, but we’re committed to supporting them financially wherever we can.
Outside of the fees we pay, we offer financial wellbeing support on our foster carer portal. This includes resources and information about many aspects of your financial wellbeing, including money management, budgeting and tax advice tools.
The number one priority of our brilliant foster carers is the wellbeing of the young people they care for. However, we know that carers who have minimised stresses in their lives and taken time to look after themselves can carry out this role to a much higher level and this is why we’ve made such a commitment to support the mental health of foster parents. Foster carers can find much more information about looking after their physical health, mental health, financial wellbeing and mindfulness on our foster carer portal.