Frequently Asked Questions

Wanting to become a foster carer? Here are a set of generic questions and misconceptions that we've found discovered through years in the industry.

General Advice

Do I need specific qualifications to foster?

No. When you are preparing to foster you will receive training to help you and your family identify and build upon the skills you already have, and develop new skills needed to foster, usually through The Fostering Network’s The Skills to Foster course.

It is recognised your personal attributes and experiences can provide people with skills and knowledge which support people as foster carers and it does not necessarily need to be from professional experience.

Can I foster if I have pets?

Having pets does not prevent you from fostering, in fact, they can be an asset to a foster family. However, every animal is different and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer, taking into account factors such as their temperament and behaviour.

Do I have to be a British citizen in order to become a foster carer?

You don’t have to have British Citizenship to be a foster carer but you will be required to have residency at the time you are approved. Fostering services value people who are from a wide range of ethnicities and who have different cultural backgrounds.

Will a police record stop me from fostering?

Not necessarily, the only criminal convictions that prevent people from fostering are those that relate to an offence against children or a sexual offence. Historic offences should not count against you in your application to foster.

All criminal convictions will need to be disclosed when you first apply to foster, as the assessment social worker will need to discuss these with you and the application process includes an enhanced criminal record check.

Can I foster if I have a long-term health condition?

Your health will be discussed when you are applying to foster and any long-term conditions are taken into account.

The most important factor is whether you are physically and psychologically fit enough to cope with the demands of caring for a child – this may vary depending on the age of the children that you are approved for.

However there are lots of foster carers who have a physical disability or a wide range of health issues which are managed well alongside successfully caring for a child. They also bring with them a wealth of personal experience which helps support them caring for a child who may also be experiencing additional needs.

Therefore they are a valued part of a community of foster carers, so please don’t hesitate on this basis, enquire today to discuss further.

I have suffered from depression in the past, will that prevent me from fostering?

Depression does not discriminate and effects a high percentage of people from a wide range of professions. Therefore, we would not rule you out on this basis, however, you would need to open to discussing this with any fostering service that you apply.

There are several foster carers who have overcome their depression or who are managing their depression well and successfully caring for children. Discussions are held on a case by case basis and fostering services simply need to be satisfied caring for a child would not negatively impact upon you and/or your family in this respect.

Do I have to speak English to a high standard to be a foster carer?

A large number of children in foster care do not have English as a first language and being placed in a home where their first language is spoken can be very beneficial for them.

You will need a good level of spoken and written English to be able to communicate with other professionals, support children’s education. If you have any particular communication needs, we would be willing to discuss this with you via various channels of communication to meet your needs.

We are a religious family, will this affect our application to foster?

It does not matter what your religion is and this should not affect your application to foster. Children are placed with foster families that can meet their needs, including religious needs. However, you would need to consider how you would feel about discussing issues such as alternative religious beliefs or sexuality with a child.

I have heard that I can’t become a foster carer because I smoke, is that true?

Most fostering services have their own policies in relation to smoking which take into account the impact on the health of any children that will be placed with you and also the importance of foster carers as role models for young people in care.

This may mean prospective foster carers who smoke are unlikely to be able to foster certain groups such as children under five and those with certain health conditions. However, if they choose to give up smoking, they will also be provided with support to do this.

All foster carers are expected to provide a smoke-free environment for children.

Can I become a foster carer if one of my own children has disabilities?

You can apply to become a foster carer if one of your children has a disability. The fostering service that you apply to will want to discuss with you how you would balance the needs of any children who are placed with you with those of your own child and what the impact of having other children in their home could be on your own child.

If you are a current foster Carer can you still enquire with us?

We have qualified and experienced professionals who have supported existing carers transfer between fostering services who can have a detailed discussion with you to ensure you have all the information to hand to make an informed decision. You may have questions such as I already have children in place can they remain in placement when I transfer?

Questions like these require a more detailed and personalised discussion. On hand are our experienced professionals who have knowledge of transferring carers within both private and local authority fostering services. They can provide unbiased and up to date advice.

Financial Matters

Are Foster Carers paid?

All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance which is intended to cover the costs of looking after a child in foster care, such as clothing, food and pocket money. Each fostering service sets its own allowance levels, and the amount varies depending on the age of the child. We can advise you on the allowances when you enquire.

Some fostering services also pay their foster carers a fee on top of the allowance, in recognition of their time, skills and experience. Some fostering services also provide additional financial support for example mileage expenses in additional weekly allowances, birthday and Christmas grants for the children etc.

How will fostering impact on my welfare benefits?

If you currently claim welfare benefits you are likely to be able to continue to claim while fostering. Foster carers are approved rather than employed by their fostering service.

In the main, fostering payments when a child is placed with a foster carer are disregarded when calculating welfare benefits. Alternatively, foster carers may be able to claim Working Tax Credit because fostering is regarded as ‘work’ by HMRC when they have a child in placement. There are several foster carers who are currently caring for children and who remain in receipt of their benefits.

If you are invited to apply you will be provided with all the relevant information you require before agreeing to proceed into your assessment.

Can I foster if I have previously had financial problems?

Previous financial problems should not prevent you from fostering. You will need to be able to show that you are now financially secure enough to provide a stable home for any children who are placed with you and that you are able to manage the fostering allowances paid to you.

I work full-time. Can I still foster?

Fostering services have different policies on this but often when carers can show their flexibility in managing work alongside different types of fostering it does not prove to be barrier to you fostering.

Foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, attend meetings, training, support groups, and to promote and support contact between a child and their family. Fostering services would not usually consider it appropriate for a fostered child to be in full-time day care while their foster carer works, but may consider the use of afterschool clubs and other childcare arrangements for older children such as your own support network / family / friends.

It will simply be dependent upon your personal circumstances and we would recommend you having a conversation with us before you rule a future in fostering out on this basis. It maybe you are able to offer respite (short break) care of a weekend, certain week days or over school holidays so enquire today for obligation free advice.

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