Are you thinking about becoming a foster carer? Call us on 0808 1680 180 or register your interest here

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions

If you have any burning questions before embarking on your foster care journey, you’ll likely find the answers you’re looking for on here. But if you need any extra help, don’t hesitate to add your details to the form at the bottom of this page. We’ll call you back and go from there.

There are many reasons why children need to be ‘looked after’ by foster carers. Some families have periods of instability due to life issues, ie, medical conditions, depression, family breakdown, learning difficulties, substance dependency and families struggling to cope. Unfortunately, some children experience significant harm from family members and in these circumstances parents may have failed to meet the child’s basic needs, exposed the child to inappropriate behaviour or risk or deliberately caused harm. The role of the foster carer is to provide a stable and safe home while a care plan for the child is established.

This is dependent on individual circumstances. Local authorities have a legal duty to try to return children to their own families wherever possible and where appropriate. Whilst the suitability of returning a child home is assessed, a short term foster placement is made to ensure the child is in a safe and stable environment in the meantime. If it is agreed that the child should not return home and a long term fostering arrangement is recommended by the courts, the agency would look to identify a family who can care for them until they move into independence. Children may be placed with foster carers for an unknown period of time or a planned duration; anything from a few days or until the child reaches adulthood.

Like all other children, foster children have their own individual personalities relating to their age, experiences and development. ‘Looked after children’ have the added difficulty of family separation and may be dealing with difficult past experiences. Some children cannot express their complex feelings with words alone and display their emotions through behaviour, which can be viewed as destructive. This could be having difficulties sleeping, eating disorders or being withdrawn or aggressive. With patience and support, foster carers can help children and young people feel safe and secure and it is at this stage carers begin to see improvement in behaviour.

Every placement is discussed with the foster carer and it is their decision whether to accept the child into their home. Local authorities provide as much information about the child and their background as possible but occasionally, especially when a child is placed in an emergency, there may be little information available. In this situation, the wider professional team will work as quickly as possible to obtain information.

Yes. You will be approved for an age range however this will depend on a few things such as other children in the household and if anyone in the household is a smoker. It is worth remembering that fostering is very much demand led; the local trends in the needs of looked after children, including their ages, vary between regions. As a result, we only approve families who we feel have the capacity to meet those needs and who have a high chance of getting placements. The wider the age range you are able to accommodate; the higher chance you will have of a child being placed with you. Children placed in foster care can be any age from 0 to 18.

We welcome applications from a wide variety of people. Carers come from diverse backgrounds and age groups and can be in a same sex couple, single, married, or divorced and may or may not have had their own children or their children may have grown up and left home. The most important requirement is that carers have time, energy and the maturity to care for children in a safe environment.

Carers can live in large or small houses or flats, which are privately owned, rented, council or housing association owned. A secure tenancy is important and permission should be sought from your landlord. The most essential requirements are that each foster child has his/her own bedroom and that your home is welcoming and safe. Same sex sibling groups of very young children may be able to share a bedroom.

Absolutely! The only animals that are automatically excluded are animals classified under the Dangerous Dogs Act. All other pets need to be safe, well cared for and friendly with children. A pet assessment will be carried out by the assessing social worker and in some cases it may be asked that a vet undertakes the assessment – this is usually where there is or has been any concerns about the animal’s behaviour towards children or adults. Some children enjoy having pets in the home however others may be frightened or may tease animals.

This would depend on the nature of the conviction. Having a criminal record does not rule you out immediately. Openness is essential at the earliest stage and throughout the application process. Agencies will look at the nature of the conviction, the circumstances around it and how long ago it was. Your enquiry will be discussed in complete confidence.

We like to get a balanced picture about current lifestyle, fitness and capacity to care for children. Each enquiry or application is assessed on an individual basis. All applicants who are offered a fostering assessment will have a medical with their own GP. This will enable each case to be considered on an individual basis. Children under 5 or any child with medical conditions or disability cannot be placed with smokers.

Yes, however, you will need to be very flexible. You will need to consider the responsibilities of fostering such as facilitating school runs, contact meetings, attending training sessions and meetings with local authority services. Fostering is a 24/7 vocation so this would need to be your priority.

Yes, if you live together as both of you will be providing care to any child placed with you. If you are not living together, your partner/spouse will still need to be checked and will be heavily involved in the process.

The process of becoming a foster carer involves an initial home visit, the attendance of Skills to Foster training, the undertaking of a foster carer assessment and the completion of necessary checks such as a Disclosure and Barring Service check. The process takes approximately four to six months.

Once approved as a foster carer your details will be provided to local authorities so that potential matches with children can be considered. When a match is identified, our Placements Officer will call you to discuss the child/ren who you have been matched with to discuss your thoughts on the potential placement.

When you become an approved foster carer you will have your own supervising social worker who will guide you through the fostering process. You will also have access to specialist local training, foster carer support groups and social events. You are never on your own – you will be part of a wider team of professionals who work together to improve the life chances and quality of life of a foster child.

No. A placement fee is made to carers only when they have a child with them. For this reason, it is important to consider the financial viability of becoming a foster carer. Whilst the agency does its best to only approve carers who they feel have a high chance of getting a placement, we cannot make guarantees.

A foster child can be taken on holiday with the permission of the local authority, however some children cannot be taken out of the country due to their immigration status.