1Will I need qualifications to be a foster carer?
No. During your preparation to become a foster carer, you will receive training. This will help you to identify skills you may already have that can be developed. Through the standard ‘Skills to Foster’ course you will be helped to acquire the specific skills needed to become a foster carer. Carers are expected to participate in ongoing training courses that are provided to support ongoing professional learning and development. These fall under the Training, Support, and Development Standards for Foster Care. More information is available at -
2How old do I have to be to foster?
You have to be at least 21 years of age (the law states you can apply to foster from the age of eighteen).
3Do I have to be married to foster?
No. Many foster carers are single people, cohabiting or in a civil partnership. If you are not on your own, it is important that you are in a stable relationship.
4Can I foster a child if I am gay?
Yes. There are many foster carers from the LGBT community. We welcome all applicants regardless of their sexual orientation. You can be gay, straight, male, female or transgender.
5Is there an age limit to my becoming a foster care?
Around half the people in the UK think of you are over 55 you can’t foster. This is far from the truth - there is no upper age limit. There are people still fostering well into their seventies. Older people can have a wealth of valuable life experience to offer. Most foster carers in the UK are aged between forty to sixty. What matters most is you are fit enough to meet the demands and challenges of being a foster carer.
6What do I need to foster?
Most importantly, an interest and concern for children and young people. The ambition, com-mitment and energy to support them to achieve their full potential. On a practical level, you must have a spare room for a child or young person. This is so they can have the privacy and space they will need. There should be plenty of storage space and a place for them to work if they are an older child. The exception to this is made for babies - up to around eighteen months - who are normally allowed to share a foster carers bedroom.
7Do I need to own my own home to foster?
You do not need to be homeowner to foster.
8Can I foster if I have pets?
Owning pets will not prevent you from fostering. They will be assessed as part of the application process to ensure their temperament and behaviour does not pose a risk. Having a family pet can be a real asset to a foster family.
9Can I foster without previous childcare experience?
Not everyone who fosters will have had experience of working with children or young people. It can be helpful - but it is not essential. Many people have transferable skills and with training and support these can be developed. There are certain areas of fostering - such as therapeutic care where past experience of working with children; though not a requirement, can be valuable.
10Can I foster if I am moving home?
Assessing your home will be an important part of the approval process. This is because safety checks will be made and advice given. Your home will have to be a suitable and safe environment for a child or young person. This means you should apply to foster when you are in the home a child will be living with you.
11Can I foster if I live outside the UK?
You cannot make an application to foster with a fostering service provider based in the UK. There can be rare exceptions, such as “family and friends” where foster carers may be looking after a child and members of the British Armed Forces families posted overseas. If you are resident in another country and wish to foster, information is available on the IFCO website
(International Foster Care Organisation).
12Do I have to be a British citizen to foster?
You do not have to have British citizenship to foster in the UK. You will be expected by most fostering service providers to be a full-time resident here - or have leave to remain.
13What is the required standard of English I need to foster?
There are now a significant number of children in foster care for whom English is not their first language. Foster carers are sought from all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. They can provide well-matched placements where the first language of a child can be spoken. This can be very beneficial for a child coming into care.
All foster carers will need a good level of written and spoken English. This is so they can communicate with other professionals about the needs of a child as well as keep records - which is a very important part of the job of fostering.
14Can I foster if I have my own children?
Yes. If you have your own children you will already have some of the important experience foster carers need. If you have your own children, we will need to give consideration to them when placing a child or young person in your family. Your own children will play an important role in your household. And they should be included in all the different stages of the fostering process. It can be difficult for children to find they are sharing their parents time and attention with a foster child. Many children report that they find it rewarding and have learnt much from their parents being foster carers.
15How much choice will I have about who I prefer to foster?
The final choice is always yours. All our foster carers are approved to care for children aged 0 to 18 of both genders. We will always look for the best match to your stated preferences. If you are going to be relying on your fostering income, you might have to be flexible in relation to the age range, gender and ethnicity of a child. A foster carer’s preferences that are very narrow - perhaps for a three-year old girl might have to wait longer.
16Will my views count in relation to who I am asked to foster?
Of course. When you apply to be a foster carer, you will be asked about your reasons to foster and an important part of that will include your preferences: the number, gender and age range of the children you want to offer a foster home. Other considerations will be discussed with you - your preferences may change along your fostering journey. The goal is for all placements to be well-matched as they are more likely to be stable. A foster carer has the ultimate right to turn down a placement referral.
17What information can I expect about a foster child to help me make a decision?
For every child in local authority care needing a foster home, there will be an individual referral. These are usually very detailed and all the information about a child will be shared with you. This may not be the case where an emergency placement is concerned. Some children have to be removed at very short notice from an unsafe environment. This means there may not be much information available. What is known will be shared with the foster carer and as information comes to light, this will be available from the social worker.
18Can I foster a child of a particular ethnicity?
Yes. this would be covered when your preferences are discussed. Where possible placements are always approached with the closest ethnic and cultural match in mind. Sadly, there are more children coming into care than there are foster families to look after them. Fostering providers will always try to work as closely within your preferences as is possible. It may take time to find the closest match. If you are providing child - whatever their background - with a stable home, even if on a short term basis, you will be doing valuable work for a vulnerable child.
19What if we can’t get along with a foster child?
If there is a real problem with a particular placement it is in nobody’s interest that it continues and so you will not be expected to continue if things are really not working out. However, if difficulties start to arise, it is important these are discussed early with your supervising social work-er. Sometimes additional support or training can make a difference. When a foster child comes into a new home, it is a period of change and adjustment for all concerned. Sometimes it just takes a little time…
20Can I foster if I smoke?
You can smoke, but you won’t be able to foster a child under five years of age or children with certain health conditions. Being a foster carer means you are setting an example for a child or young person every day. This means you should always avoid smoking in their presence and never in a car or your home.
21Do I have to be able to drive to foster?
There is no requirement to be able to drive - but it does generally make things a lot easier. Children may have to be taken to school or to contact meetings with their “birth parents”. Young children will also have medical and dental appointments at various times. Fostering can be challenging and take a lot of energy. Having access to a car can make a big difference.
22Can I foster if I am disabled?
Being disabled is not necessarily a bar to fostering. Every case will be looked at on an individual basis. Much will depend on the nature and degree of a particular disability. All our foster care applicants have to have a medical check as part of the approval process. We would need to be sure you can meet the demands of fostering without affecting your own health.
23Can I still foster if I have a disabled child?
You can certainly apply to foster if you have a disable child. A fostering service provider will ask how you will balance the needs of a foster child coming into your home with those of your own child. No two cases are the same - so a decision will be made when all the individual fac-tors have been taken into account.
24Can I foster if I have suffered from depression.
This will have to be discussed with the fostering service provider. A past mental illness will not necessarily prevent you from fostering. The assessment process includes a medical report which will look at your suitability. Fostering can make emotional demands on a carer, so you need to be confident you this will not affect your mental health and general well being.
25Can I foster if I have a criminal record?
This can depend on the nature of an offence. The law says that individuals cannot foster if they have a conviction relating to an offence against children or a sexual offence. A minor conviction will probably not affect your application. It is important when applying that any conviction is disclosed as all applications to foster include an enhanced criminal record check.