How to become a foster parent

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How to become a foster parent

There seems to be quite a lot of confusion about just how a person can become a foster carer. This may be because there has been quite a lot of coverage in the press recently about fostering. This is a very simple guide to the main considerations for anyone who is thinking about becoming a  foster carer:

  • someone applying to be a foster carer can be single, married or cohabiting;
  • you can be a tenant or a homeowner;
  • you can be of any religious, ethnic and cultural background;
  • if you are in a couple, one of you will need to be available at all times;
  • if you are single, you will need to be at home full time – or have flexible part-time employment;
  • your home will be assessed for its suitability;
  • your sexual orientation is not a bar to becoming a foster carer;
  • legal and personal references, background and lifestyle, health, skills and attitude will be factors considered – as will your ability to work within a professional team and provide a caring, nurturing home environment;
  • there is no official upper age limit for foster carers: as a general rule agencies like foster carers to be over 21 years old. Legally you can apply to foster from 18 years of age – much will depend on your ability and circumstances. There is, however, no upper age limit and some foster carers continue into their 70s.

What is the process of becoming a foster carer?

  • if you are fostering through an agency, the process will involve them in making checks on you and your family with the Criminal Records Bureau (DBS Check) as well as the Local Authority;
  • you will be required to have a full medical check-up with your GP;
  • referees – non family members – will be sought who can provide more information about you;
  • if you own a dog, you may be asked to arrange a vet’s report confirming the animal has a suitable temperament to be around a child;
  • a supervising social worker will make regular visits to you and your family to get information for your assessment report: this will be presented to a special fostering panel (you will be invited to attend)  who will recommend your suitability, or otherwise, to become a foster carer;
  • the final decision as to whether you will be ‘Approved to Foster’ rest with the Agency Decision Maker (ADM).

What are the arrangements for paying foster carers?

  • on average, foster carers who are looking after a child or young person, get paid a weekly fostering allowance as well as a fee which may vary;
  • the allowance paid will depend on the type of care and the age of the child or young person concerned;
  • foster carers who care for children with complex needs have more training and receive more money: this can vary depending upon the specific needs of the child.

How long does the process of becoming a foster carer take?

  • Understandably, the application process is very thorough. Because it takes a detailed look at your current and past life – as well as requiring checks and references to be made – on average it can take between three to four months;
  • once the process is complete and you are approved to foster, you will be considered straightaway to take emergency foster care placements, short term foster care placements, parent and child foster care placements, bridging placements or long term foster care placements.


No one person has the same set of life experiences. Foster carers come from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life. What they all have in common, however, is an interest in doing their best to help children and young people to succeed in life.

Foster care news on our website…

Dorset foster carers recognised

October 23rd, 2017

At Dorset County Council’s annual ‘Children in Care Awards’, held this weekend, the dedication of the county’s foster carers was recognised. Three hundred people attended the event – including the eighty award winners (more)

Become a foster parent

How to become a foster parent

Rainbow need more foster carers

You can join our team of dedicated professionals who know, despite all the challenges it poses, foster care can still be about fun – after all, childhood is a very special time. We are now looking for people who have an interest in children and helping them to achieve in life. Many of the children we care for have come from difficult backgrounds and to be given a secure, stable and loving home. We provide excellent levels of support so our carers can ‘turn’ these young lives around – achieving this can be hugely rewarding.

We welcome applications from everyone regardless of their ethnicity, religion or particular cultural background: so please call us today on 020 8427 3355 for more information on building a fostering career with Rainbow.

‘Rainbow Rewards’: bonus payments now available

Earn a special bonus of five hundred pounds through referring someone who then becomes an approved carer with Rainbow. The money will be paid once your new referral has received their very first placement from us. Existing carers! Please talk to us first if you are thinking of transferring to a new foster agency. Note: carers who transfer to Rainbow, can also claim  our special ‘reward’ payment (this payment will only be made for carers who are currently caring a child on a long-term basis.)

And the good news at the end of this weeks rainbow…our Awards evening is generating a lot of interest: as the invitations have been sent out now – please reply promptly. We are looking forward to seeing you all on the night.

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