Do you believe you are the right age to foster a child? 

Almost 50% of people think if you’re over 55 you can’t be a foster parent.

As a rule, fostering service providers prefer foster parents to be over 21 years old but legally you can apply to foster from the age of 18 years dependent on your ability and circumstances. There is no upper age limit and many foster parents continue well into their 70s. What is important is that you are fit enough to care for a child or young person who is placed with you. The majority of foster parents are in the 40 to 60-year age bracket.. 

Do I need to be married to foster?

There is no regulation or requirement that you need to be married to foster.

You can be married, in a civil partnership, single, separated, divorced or living together. If you are living together, then most fostering providers would want like you to have been together for at least a two-year period.. 

Can I foster if I am lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? 

Your sexual orientation or gender identity has no bearing on your ability to provide a loving nurturing and safe environment for a child or young person.

The above should never be a barrier to you applying to foster.

Do I need a spare room to foster?

Most fostering service providers will require you to have a spare bedroom for a child or young person that you foster.

There is however no regulatory requirement for foster children over the age of 3 to have their own bedroom. National Minimum Standards states that a child over the age of 3 years should have their own bedroom where this is possible, taking into account the child’s wishes and feelings.

Do I need to own my own home?

Your accommodation, be it owned or rented will be an important part of your fostering assessment process, but you do not need to own your own home.

You will need to have the necessary space and stability to offer a nurturing and safe environment for children and young people placed with you.

Can I foster if I have children of my own?

You can foster if you have children of your own. Fostering involves the whole family and will affect and impact on your children in different ways.

The children of foster carers play a key role and depending on their age and ability, they will be included in the fostering assessment process. Sometimes it can be tough for children who find themselves sharing their parents with other children and young people. Many children say they have enjoyed being part of the fostering household and learnt a lot from it. Many fostering providers provide support group meetings and events for foster carers own children as well.

Can I foster if I or my partner has a disability, medical condition or has suffered a mental illness?

During the fostering assessment process, you will be required to undergo a medical which will indicate whether you are fit to foster.

This will usually be undertaken by your own GP. The medical will cover general health and fitness, plus any long- or short-term health issues you may have had. They will also be asked about any current medication that you are being prescribed. Your medical assessment report will also be reviewed and commented on by the fostering services own Medical Advisor. As long as you are deemed to be well enough to undertake the fostering role, a medical condition should not prevent you from fostering.

Can I foster if I am not a British Citizen?

You do not have to be a British Citizen, but you will need to have the right to reside in the UK.

Children from a wide range of backgrounds, including those seeking asylum in the UK need foster carers who can reflect their cultural or ethnic background. If you are resident in the UK for a specific period, this would need to be taken into account.

Can I foster if I have current or previous financial problems? 

Your financial situation will be discussed as part of the fostering assessment.

You will need to be able to show that you are financially secure enough to provide a stable home for any child that is placed with you. You will be paid a fostering allowance and you will need to demonstrate that you can manage financially.  

Can I foster if I have been convicted of a criminal offence?

All fostering applicants and those living in the fostering household are required to complete an enhanced disclosure with the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).

The outcome of this will indicate whether you or members of the household have committed any offences which would prevent them from working with children. You must declare any criminal convictions when you first apply to foster and the fostering service dealing with your application will be able to advise you as to whether you are likely to be approved as a foster carer.

Can I foster a child if I have pets? 

The health needs of any child or young person that you may foster needs to come first.

Fostering providers do accept parents that smoke. Although you would not be able to foster children under the age of five years old or those with certain disabilities. The key aspects that fostering providers will focus on is that it is essential that foster homes are smoke free and that no-one smokes in the home, that foster parents are in a position of trust and a position as a positive role modelling and should therefore lead by example, that smoking in a car where a child is present is illegal. Most fostering service providers would encourage you to stop smoking for your own health and to minimise the effect of passive smoking on any child or young person, as well as presenting a positive role model for any child you look after. 

How many children can I foster?

Fostering service providers would approve you to care for a certain number of children, and this will depend on the space you have in your home and your experience.

Most families are approved to care for one, two or three children. Each year the approval is reviewed and it is possible to change the approval if the circumstances in the foster home change, such as an extra bedroom becomes available.

What will be your next step? 

Take time to discuss your next steps with any significant others, or get in touch with us today to help us answer any other questions you might have.

You can request a call back or learn more with our Guide to Fostering pdf below.

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Fostering agencies are subject to regulations, relevant legislation and acts. These aim to ensure that children and young persons are safeguarded and there is a high level of support to achieve positive outcomes. They also cover practice guidance, key reporting requirements and other key compliance areas. Please see a summary below of the key and…

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Frequently Asked Questions