Fostering FAQs

What is fostering?

Fostering is caring for vulnerable children in your own home, on a temporary or long-term basis, when their birth family is unable to look after them. Foster carers work on behalf of the local authority (social services), either as a local authority/HSCNI trust carer or as a carer for an independent fostering agency (IFA). There are many different types of fostering, offering a variety of suitable placements for children and young people depending on their needs and circumstances. Find out more about the types of fostering here.

Who can foster?

Many people are able to foster. Single people and couples can apply to foster, as can people of any sexuality or gender identity, people from all faiths and none, those who own their own home and those who rent. Home for Good is not an fostering agency so we do not assess prospective foster carers, but we support and journey with anyone exploring adoption and going through the assessment process.

Who can’t foster?

There are very few things that exclude you from applying to foster. Legally you can apply to foster from the age of 18, but most fostering services advise that you should be over 21. There is no upper age limit, although your age will be considered as part of the assessment, as will any criminal records you may hold.

Do I need a big house?

You need to be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain, but you do not need to own your home. However, you will need to show that you can provide a safe, stable and suitable environment for children. Most fostering services will require you to have a spare bedroom, to ensure the child you foster has the space and privacy they require. There may be an exception for fostering babies as they can initially share the carer’s bedroom, usually up to 12 months, but you will need to discuss this with your local authority or fostering agency.

Can I continue working while I foster?

Fostering services vary in their requirements, but most would expect the primary carer to be with the children most of the time. Some may allow you to continue working part-time when fostering, particularly if caring for school age children or teenagers. Depending on the type of foster care you offer, it may be possible to work full-time. As well as the direct care of children, foster carers are expected to be available to attend meetings, training and support groups, and to promote and support contact between a child and their birth family. It is usually not considered appropriate for a fostered child to be in full-time day care, although after-school clubs and other childcare arrangements may be beneficial for older children.

Can I foster with a disability or health issue?

This will be considered as part of your assessment, but will not necessarily stop you from fostering. You will need to show that you are physically and psychologically fit enough to cope with the demands of caring for a child, which will vary depending on the age of children you are approved for.

Can I foster when I have birth children?

Yes, many foster carers look after children alongside their birth children. Your birth children will be considered as part of the assessment, and where appropriate, social workers may talk to them about fostering. Your parenting experience will likely be a strong asset to your application.

Will my pet dog impact my application?

As long as your pet(s) does not pose any threat to a child’s health or safety this should not be a barrier to your application, although it is something your social worker will assess. In many cases, pets are actually a positive aspect of your family as they can be very therapeutic for children.

Can Christians foster?

Home for Good has met hundreds of Christian foster carers from all over the UK. For many of them, their faith was seen as an asset in assessment, not least because for many, a church community offers a robust network of support.

Social workers will want to explore the role faith and the church community has in your life and how that will impact any child who comes into your family.

It’s certainly not automatic that all Christians will be suitable foster carers and therefore be approved, but neither should this be an immediate reason for refusal. If you have not been successful in a previous application we would suggest you ask for detailed feedback on the reasons for this.

Got more questions? Get in touch with our team.

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