Fostering: Frequently Asked Questions
If you are thinking about fostering, you’ve probably got a few questions.
Perhaps you want to know if you are able to become a foster carer. Or you might want to know what changes to make to your home. You may have questions about money. How much will you get paid or what do you have to pay for?
Check out the answers to some of the questions we’ve been asked by people just like you, who are compassionate, caring and ready to help change a child’s life through fostering. Some answers may surprise you!
If we haven’t covered your question please get in touch. We’d love help you with your fostering journey.
Could I foster?
The law states that to be approved as a foster carer you need to be at least 21 years old. 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.
No. Full training called ‘Skills to Foster’ will be provided. This training will take place part of 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. 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 LGBTQ+ people on their journey to becoming foster carers and beyond.
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.
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.
Setting up my home?
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.
It is expected that a foster child will have their own bedroom and not share with either birth or other looked after children in your home.
However, in the case of siblings (usually same sex siblings), the Local Authority may request they share or are happy that the siblings can share. This is a discussion that takes place as part of the process of matching children with the right foster family. Factors such as safety, age and space are taken into account, as well as the foster carer’s own approval.
Foster carers ensure that a bedroom is furnished with a bed, wardrobe and any other items needed to ensure a child’s care needs are met. We also advocate that children can personalise their rooms with pictures/posters etc. These are things that will enable them to feel it is their own space and help them settle into a new environment.
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. A lot of children love pets, so other than any known allergies or fears, pets can be a good thing!
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.
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.
Fees & Payments?
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.
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.
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.
Whenever a foster child is placed with a foster family we have a Placement Planning meeting with our foster carer to talk about everything to do with their day to day care.
Arrangements and level of pocket money can be discussed.
In some cases, carers may be in a situation where their birth children don’t receive pocket money and instead are allowed treats through the week.
In this situation, this would be addressed as part of the Placement Planning Meeting and it may be that the looked after child follows the same rules – overall it is about communication and negotiation to ensure the situation is fair and transparent.
As part of our contract with the Local Authority a small amount is taken at source by us (usually amounting to £3 per week) to go into the child’s saving accounts.
The savings account is a junior ISA account that is opened by the Local Authority and the details retained by the FCC finance department.
You will not be expected to oversee this account nor pay the savings into this account yourself.
Carers (if they wish) can pay extra into savings and if this is something they wanted to do, we would advise speaking to a member of our finance team who can advise how best this can be done.
Savings arrangements are something that you can discuss with your Social Worker to understand further what you can or should do.
LOCAL FOSTERING DROP-IN SESSIONS
Holidays & Taking a Break?
Carers are able and encouraged to take children on holidays through the year.
This may be a longer family holiday in the Summer or other school holidays, or a series of weekends away.
We pay a holiday allowance to carers for each child in their care and our carers are able to claim up to 14 days holiday allowance for each child each year. To make a claim, carers will fill out and submit a holiday allowance claim form to our finance team department. Our Supervising Social Workers (SSW) will assist carers to complete holiday claims as needed.
When planning a holiday with your foster child, it is important you discuss arrangements with your Supervising Social Worker as early as possible. For instance, what are the sleeping arrangements, are there any possible risks that need to be managed? We will support you with sorting the details beforehand.
In every case when a child is staying away from the usual placement address, it is vital that carers let their Social Worker know as we need to keep up to date records.
In some circumstances, carers may decide to use the holiday allowance to take day trips. The holiday allowance can be used for such circumstances, especially where taking a child away for an extended period may be problematic due to their needs.
Carers are able to take children abroad on holiday and many of our carers do!
We encourage carers to take children on holidays and we provide up to 14 days a year holiday allowance per looked after child to support this.
If you are going abroad on holiday, then permission must be sought from the Local Authority to take the child out of the country. This will be done through your Supervising Social Worker, who will correspond with the child’s social worker for agreement.
It is important to gain the agreement of the Local Authority before booking any trip abroad and to ensure that the child has a valid passport to travel.
If the child does not have a current passport, we will liaise with the Local Authority to ensure that one is applied for. In some circumstances this can take time, but we will advocate on your and the child’s behalf to ensure it is completed. The Local Authority (as they have parental responsibility) have to apply for the passport. Our agency and our carers are unable to apply for passports for foster children.
As with all holidays it is important you discuss arrangements beforehand with your supervising social worker. We will need to update our systems with details including the address where you will be staying.
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’!
We allocate 14 days respite care to every carer. We believe this is an important part of supporting our carers, allowing them to have breaks away from the fostering task.
The respite allocation can be taken in parts for instance 1 overnight or a weekend or as a larger block of 1 or 2 weeks.
Respite can be vital in allowing foster carers time away to recharge and spend one to one time with each other or as a birth family.
We advocate for carers to take this vital time and in no way is it seen as a negative. It is protected as part of your carer contract with us.
We ask that carers inform their Social Worker of any planned respite as soon as possible so arrangements can be agreed and the respite period recorded on file.
During respite, looked after children will go to another foster carer within our agency or stay with an approved Back-Up Carer. Back-Up Carers are usually family members or close friends of the carers who already know the child(ren) and have been approved by us to provide short term periods of care.
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.
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!
All foster carers who are looking after a child have Delegated Authority.
Delegated authority is the process that enables foster carers to make common sense, everyday decisions about the children and young people they care for, such as allowing them to go to friends’ houses for sleepovers, signing consent forms for school trips and arranging haircuts. This means that the care children receive can feel more natural, whilst not providing carers with barriers to care for children.
Whenever a foster child is placed with a foster family we have a Placement Planning meeting for the carers, FCC Social Worker and Local Authority social worker to talk through lots of details. Depending on the age/understanding the child may attend also. The ‘Placement Planning Meeting’ should happen within 72 hours of the child starting the placement but in some cases, where there is a planned move, it can happen before.
At this meeting everyone will discuss and agree the delegated authority of the carer, safer caring, and how day to day care will be given. It will also plans for things like pocket money.
Usually the meeting is at the foster carer’s home and is chaired by the child’s social worker. The foster carers will receive an agreed plan and documentation of the discussion from the Local Authority after this meeting.