Commonly asked questions about foster care

Frequently asked questions about foster care
March 3, 2017
Basic questions about foster care answered
March 27, 2017
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Commonly asked questions about foster care

Anyone giving serious thought to becoming a foster carer will clearly have a lot of questions about what the process involves. Becoming a foster carer is certainly life changing – for everyone involved: In part 2 we provide answers to some more of the questions frequently asked.

Do I have to speak English to a high standard to be a foster carer?
There are a very large number of children and young people in foster care who do not have English as their first language. If they can be placed in a foster home where their first language is spoken, this can be extremely beneficial for them. You will need to possess a reasonable level of spoken and written English. This is because as a foster carer you will be expected to communicate with other professionals – such as social workers – as well as support a child’s education and keep accurate records.

We are a religious family, will this affect our application to foster?
Whatever your religion is, it should not affect your becoming a foster carer.. The goal is always to place children in families that provide the best match to their cultural needs – and this includes religious needs. You will have to give thought as to whether you would be comfortable talking about issues that might include different religious beliefs, or certain topics to do with; for example, sexuality. You might be expected to support a child in the observance of a religion different to your own by taking them to their place of religious observance.

I have heard it is not possible to foster a child if I smoke, is this the case?
The policies fostering agencies have in relation to smoking may differ. They will, however, all take into account the potential impact upon the health and well being of any child or young person in your care. What will also be a consideration will be the issue of the importance of foster carers being good role models for children in their care: smoking does not set a good example for the development of a healthy lifestyle. Some agencies may offer help in providing support to give up smoking. It may be unlikely that you will permitted to foster certain groups if you smoke – such as children under the age of five. All foster carers, whether fostering through an agency or local authority, will be expected to provide a smoke free environment for children or young people in their care.

Is it possible to become a foster carer if one of my own children has a disability?
This is possible, but your fostering service will want to be assured that you are in a position to balance the needs of all the children in your care. It will be important to discuss the potential impact of a child with a disability upon children coming into placement in your home. As well as the impact on your own child.

If I become a foster carer, how will that affect my own children?
If you decide to become a foster carer, this will have a big impact on your family. Fostering can be life changing for all involved. This means it will certainly affect your own children. It is important to realise that the children of foster carers will play a key role and exert influence during all stages of the fostering process. It can be difficult for children to suddenly find they are expected to share their parent’s time. Foster carers report that it is very important to make time for your own children and ensure that they still very special to you. It is a good idea to find out if your fostering service provider runs courses, as many do, for the children of foster carers. Having a foster child in a family can be enormously beneficial for the children of carers: they often describe it as being a very positive experience from which they have learnt important life lessons. It is a situation that requires careful management and monitoring – when this happens, it can be enormously rewarding for all concerned.

How much of a say will I be allowed in who I foster?
When you apply to become a foster carer, an important part of the application process will involve discussions about your preferences. This will cover the age range and number of children you might wish to foster. You might be interested in fostering babies or sibling groups. Agencies or local authorities will generally want to work within your preferences when you are an approved carer: ideally all placements for children should be well planned and matched. But there is considerable pressure to find placements for there is a very real shortage of foster carers across the country. You might be asked to consider an emergency or short term placement, but a foster carer always has the final say in whether they wish to accept a placement.

And the good news at the end of this rainbow…our last music session highlighted the considerable talent our children have for writing song lyrics… this is proving to be a great way to involve young people in the pleasure of creative writing. And that’s before anything is even set to music!

Follow up on our ‘Rewards’ bonus scheme.
Our fostering will pay a bonus of £500 if you are a fostering and can refer someone to be a carer. After your referral has been approved, and their first placement made, the money will be paid. If, however, you are already an approved foster carer, and have a current long term placement you can transfer to Rainbow and be eligible for a bonus. We provide all the necessary support and guidance in what is a straightforward process. We can also advise on a whole range of issues such as foster carer pay: how long does it take to become a foster carer? Or what is fostering? We can also provide information on how much do private fostering agencies pay?

If you are a carer: check our news section

Issues to consider if you want to foster

What to ask if you wish to foster

Visit our special news section on Rainbow’s web site. There are articles of interest if you are interested in fostering. Simply visit And feel free to contact us with your own views or fostering experiences. We would love to hear from you whatever type of fostering you are involved in.

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