Our most frequently asked questions!
The law states that you can apply to be a foster carer from the age of 18. We would recommend applications from those with sufficient life experience. There is no upper age limit. You just need the capacity and stamina to look after a child.
Yes. As a foster carer you must have at least one spare bedroom for a child.
This is because a fostered child requires their own space and privacy – something they may never have had before.
There may be occasions where fostered siblings can share a bedroom, or a child of baby age can share your own bedroom – but the criteria for becoming a foster carer is having a spare bedroom.
No. Full training called ‘Skills to Foster’ will be provided. This training will take place part the way through your assessment to become a foster carer. All foster carers are then provided with ongoing training to increase their knowledge, widen their skill set, and keep them up to date.
Read more about our training here.
You can be single, married, living together, in a civil partnership or separated/divorced.
Not necessarily. We’ll just need to determine if you have sufficient flexibility in your working life to care for a fostered child.
If you do work, it could be that a child of school age is best placed with you. You would then be responsible for tasks such as school runs, similiar to having your own child.
Yes. You do not need to own your home to foster. As long as you have a legally-binding tenancy contract with your landlord, renting a home isn’t a barrier to fostering.
You would still need at least one spare bedroom available for fostering.
Yes. Many carers have their own children – we carefully match a child to your household. Having your own children gives you valuable childcare experience that could be useful when a child is placed with you.
Your children will need to be ‘on board’ with fostering. As part of the assessment process, your own children’s views will be taken into consideration.
Yes. Anyone can potentially become a carer, regardless of sexual orientation. Fostering should be inclusive and diverse. We’re members of New Family Social, a charity that supports LGBT+ people on their journey to becoming foster carers and beyond.
Yes. A lot of children love pets, so other than any known allergies or fears, pets can be a good thing!
Having a disability or health (physical or mental) condition won’t preclude you from becoming a foster carer in itself (we need a diverse range of foster carers). Everyone who applies to foster needs to undergo a medical but there may be things we can put in place to support you becoming a foster carer.
Fostering regulations state that if you smoke, that you do so outside/away from children. However, you cannot foster a child aged 5 or younger if you smoke.
Having a police record does not necessarily preclude you from becoming a foster carer. It would depend on what the offence was and how long ago it was committed. All foster carer applicants are required to apply for a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check, and further information would need to be obtained about the offence during the application process – before we could make a decision.
Yes! Regular visitors to your home may be required to apply for a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check, but there are no rules or regulations for occasional visitors.
The training and assessment process involves a residential weekend, eight to ten visits to your home, references, police checks and a full report to the fostering panel. This is hard to achieve in less than four months and more typically takes six months. Because we believe matching the carer with the child is very important, time will be taken to place the right child with you. Read more about the process of becoming a foster parent here.
We have carers from all walks of life, styles of life, racial backgrounds and from 21 to 60+ years. The main thing is the time, space and experience to cope with children from difficult backgrounds.
When a child is placed with you, you will receive a fee that also includes a maintenance allowance for the child(ren). Additionally, there are allowances for the child’s birthday – along with holiday and religious festival allowances (e.g. Christmas).
Read more about our fees, and view some examples here. You can also read about the training and support we provide.
Yes, it is your home and you will always have the last word on who lives there. Your assessment will clarify the age and numbers of children for your approval and you will get all the available information to help you decide which children will be happy with you.
When you are approved as a foster carer, your allocated social worker will get in touch with you if we find a possible match for your household. However, you will always have the final word!
Fostering is a hugely rewarding life choice, but it can also be challenging. As a foster carer, you will receive 14 days ‘respite’ per year. Respite is when another foster carer looks after the child(ren) placed with you, so you can ‘recharge your batteries’!
Most of the children we have in placement see their family away from the foster home. If they are safe and suitable people to visit their child in your home this can be reassuring to them and the child and you may be asked to agree to it.
When a young person reaches the age of 18, they are no longer considered to be ‘looked after’. However, support doesn’t just end.
Foster carers play an important role ensuring the young person is ready for independent living. Often an arrangement is agreed between foster carers and local authorities for that young person to remain in the fostering home, even though they are no longer a fostered young person. This is called Staying Put in England, and When I’m Ready in Wales.
Sometimes, a move to independent living can occur before the young person is 18 years old, but this would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The most important thing is that the young person is supported according to their needs and aspirations.
Making an initial enquiry is simple. Either fill out our short form here – or call us on 0800 0856 538. As we’re not-for-profit, there will be no ‘selling’, or any pressure on you to continue with your application if you change your mind. Fostering is a life choice, and it has to be right for you.
No. As a foster carer, there is lots of support available.
To start with, you will be allocated your own social worker. They will be with you right from the start, and will conduct the assessment that all foster carer applicants are required to take.
Once approved as a foster carer, they will continue to support you.
A social worker will always be available 24/7 in case of an emergency. If it’s an emergency out of office hours, it may not be your usual social worker, but will be the ‘on call’ worker allocated at the time.
Additionally there are regular foster carer support groups that will operate in your area. These are attended by other local foster carers, and they are a great opportunity to meet other carers, share experiences and build friendships.
Find out more about our support here.
We are a unique fostering agency.
Not only are we not-for-profit, choosing to reinvest any surplus income into providing more support and training for our carers, but we’re the only ‘co-operative’ operating in foster care in the UK.
This means that we give our carers and children a ‘voice’ within the organisation.
We are registered under Fostering Services Regulations (2002) in England and Wales, and are subject to regular inspections to ensure that everything is well run and the children are thriving. Click here for more details on Who We Are.
Still have some unanswered questions? Why not join one of our online Fostering Q&A Sessions via Zoom?
The sessions will be one-to-one, so there will be plenty of opportunities to ask all the questions you need.
We will need to check that we cover your area, which is why we ask for your postcode.
Choose your time slot below, and we will get back to you!