If you still have a question that we haven't answered below, please email email@example.com stating which council you pay your council tax to, so your question can be forwarded to your local fostering team.
Can I apply to my local authority if I already foster for an agency?
Can I transfer from an agency with a child in placement?
Becoming a foster carer is one of the most rewarding things you can do. You’ll be helping a vulnerable child or young person by nurturing them and building their self esteem.
Being there for them and helping them try and make sense of their situation is an enormous reward in itself.
Why not hear from existing foster carers on their experiences to find out more
“The sense of achievement is enormous each day when we look back and think about our past placements.”
“It's a contentment, knowing that no matter how short a time a child spends with you, that you are really helping to change things for the better.”
Why do children need foster care?
Children are unable to stay in their own family home for a number of reasons, this may be while family issues are resolved or because of a family illness where the child’s parents have no other support available.
Unfortunately children and young people are likely to have experienced some trauma and will need your understanding and patience to help them with this.
What all children have in common is the need to be in a safe and secure environment with care, kindness and stability.
What’s the difference between fostering and adoption?
Children in foster care are in the care of the local authority.
Adoptive parents have all parental rights and responsibilities and the adopted child loses all legal ties with their birth parents and becomes a full member of the new family.
How can I become a foster carer?
Can I foster if I'm LGB orT?
Yes you can. We welcome applications from applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual.
Can I foster if I work full time?
Most foster carers who work full time are short break carer meaning they only look after a child or children at the weekends.
If you want to do short term or long term fostering you’ll need to consider your working hours and how you’ll get a child to and from school and care for them in the school holidays. You’ll also need to be able to attend training sessions as well as have time to meet regularly with your social worker.
Can I foster if I have children already?
Yes you can. A lot of foster carers already have their own children, feel they’ve done a good job raising them and want to give other children a good start in life.
You’ll need to think about the difference that other fostering will make to your own children and talk to them about it.
Find out more about fostering if you have children already here
Can I foster if I smoke?
Local authority guidelines vary on this. Having a smoker in your household might mean you can only foster a certain age group. You’ll need to make sure that no one smokes inside the house.
Can I foster if I don’t drive or have a car?
Different local authorities have different guidelines on this. If you don’t drive or have access to a car you will need to think about how you will get children to and from school or to any meetings with their birth family.
What kind of home do I need?
It doesn’t matter what type of house you live in. You’ll need to have space for the children to play indoors and access to space outdoors.
If you don’t have your own garden you can still be a foster carer.
Children will need a space to do their homework and to keep their clothes and belongings.
You don't need to own your own home and can foster if you're in rented accommodation.
Do I need a spare room?
Local authority guidelines vary on this. Most prefer the foster child to have their own bedroom, but some will consider them sharing a room depending on the ages of the children. Your own local authority will advise you on this.
Do I need any qualifications?
You don’t need any specific qualifications to be a foster carer. You will need to have the time, skills and ability to care for children or young people.
We need enthusiastic, committed and caring people to be foster carers.
What training will I need?
We’ll provide comprehensive training and regular support. This will include a ‘Skills to Foster’ course as part of the assessment process.
All foster carers must also complete ‘Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care’ within 12 months of approval. This is important but not too difficult and we’ll be there to help you.
You’ll develop new skills and have the opportunity to gain extra qualifications if you wish.
Are there any age limits?
You can apply if you are over 21 and there is no upper age limit. It is important that you have the experience and stability in your own life to support a child as well as the health and energy to keep up with them.
Your age will help us to work out what age group of children you might be best suited to care for.
Do I need a medical check up?
It’s important that you’re able to cope with any physical and emotional challenges that fostering may present so you’ll need to undergo a medical check up as part of your assessment. This is a legal requirement under the Fostering Regulations.
Many conditions may not stop you from becoming a foster carer but it is important you’re in good health. You need to be emotionally resilient to deal withe the challenges that fostering might bring.
Do I need to be in a relationship or married?
No you don’t – we welcome applications from people who are single, living together, married, divorced, separated, straight or gay.
If you are single it’s important that you have other support networks of family and friends in place.
Each child in foster care needs as much stability as possible in their placement so it is important to consider your long term plans.
If you’ve only been in a relationship a short time and are thinking of fostering as a couple we would suggest you’ve been living together for at least 12-18 months before you start the process. Fostering a child will have an impact on your home life so it’s important to be settled before starting the assessment process.
Does it matter if I have criminal convictions?
Having a criminal conviction doesn’t automatically rule you out of fostering. An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be carried out on you and anyone in your household who is aged 16 or over.
Each application will be considered individually, but we won’t progress your application where there are convictions for serious offences or offences against children.
How long does the application process take?
Most local authorities aim for it to take six months from you making your initial enquiry to being approved as a foster carer. Sometimes it can take a bit longer than this.
What does the assessment process involve?
The process varies depending on the local authority. Once you’ve made an enquiry someone will be in touch. You might be sent a pack with more information or asked to attend an information event.
If you decide to go ahead your local authority will discuss their process with you in more detail. They’ll talk to you about your own circumstances, find out more about you and your family and give you the opportunity to find out more about fostering to see if it’s right for you.
Once you’ve decided fostering is right for you you’ll go on a training course with other potential foster carers to learn more about how you’ll be able to help a child and what changes you might need to make to become a foster carer.
Your local authority will carry out statutory checks including a medical and an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The main part of your assessment will include discussing your history, experience and expectations.
At first the assessment process can seem intrusive as it is very in-depth but this is because your local authority have a responsibility to make sure you can provide the best care to a child or young person and that you are fully prepared for it. They need to make sure you are suitable to care for someone else’s child.
You will be supported at every step of the process.
Once the assessment is complete a panel will decide whether or not you can become an approved foster carer.
Once you start fostering you’ll receive ongoing guidance and training as well as financial support. You’ll have your own social worker and they will be able to talk through what support your local authority can provide.
Are foster carers paid?
Foster carers receive a generous weekly allowance. The amount you receive will depend on the age of the child you are looking after and your skills and experience.
Different authorities have slightly different rates for their weekly allowance. Some fostering teams also pay an allowance for holidays, birthdays, Christmas and other festivals on top of the weekly amount. The allowances are generally tax free. Sometimes there are exceptions and these will be explained to you by your local authority if they apply.
Will I get help with equipment?
We will help you with equipment you need for a placement. For example most local authorities help with providing beds, bedding, baby equipment and storage for clothes and belongings. This may vary depending on the local authority.
Will the child change school?
Usually we try and keep the child in the same school to minimise disruption to them and their education. Part of your role would be to take the child to and from school.
If you are caring for a child on a long term basis a transfer to a local school would usually take place. This would have to be agreed by everyone and be beneficial to the child.