Fostering frequently asked questions

a laughing family walk down the road with one young boy having a piggy-back from mum and the other being swung by his arms

Can I become a foster carer if I’m single?

Of course you can apply to foster if you’re single, divorced or widowed. 

What’s important is that you have the time and energy to give a child or children in your care. 

You don’t need another half to mean the whole world to a child that needs you.

Can I become a foster carer if I am in a same sex relationship?

Your sexual orientation has absolutely no bearing on your ability to be a fantastic foster carer. 

We know that, and so do you. So whether you’re married, in a Civil Partnership or simply in a settled relationship of any kind, you’re eligible to become a foster carer.

Can I foster if I already have children?

Sometimes your experience as a birth parent can be a real help when you face the challenges of fostering. 

But we always assess prospective foster carers on their potential to provide the very best care for the child or children we’ll place with them – whether they have children or not. 

If you do already have children living with you, then we will need to include them in the assessment process to make sure that everyone’s involved in what lies ahead.

Can I foster if I’m unemployed or retired?

Your employment status does not affect your application to become a foster carer. We will need to consider your availability to care adequately for a child or children placed with you.

Can people who live in rented accommodation foster? 

You can foster whether your home is rented or owned. If your home is rented, you will need to seek permission from your landlord before you begin the assessment process.

How many bedrooms do I need in order to foster? 

In England, the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2001, state that each foster child over the age of three should have their own bedroom, to ensure they have the privacy and space they require.

The exception is babies who can usually share a foster carer’s bedroom up to a certain age (12-18 months).

If you are short of space, you may wish to consider short break care, which covers a variety of different types of part-time care. You could have a child to stay for a few hours or a day each week, giving their own family or their full-time foster carers a break.

What about the new ‘under occupancy’ rules on spare bedrooms?

Under the Welfare Reform’s new rules on spare bedrooms, approved foster carers will be allowed an extra bedroom for fostering purposes. 

You’ll need to have already fostered a child or be approved as a foster carer to be eligible – please see our Welfare Reform page for more details.

Does fostering have an age limit?

So long as you’re aged at least 21, you’re eligible to become a foster carer. There’s no upper age limit. 

Am I allowed to foster children from a different background to me?

We look to place children into the care of people from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Your ethnicity won’t be a barrier to your fostering a child of any birth origin so long as you can provide the care and commitment they need to as long as they need it.

Do foster carers receive financial support?

You will receive an allowance to support the cost of looking after a child. For more information about this please visit our support for foster carers page.

Can I contact my social worker outside office hours?

Each approved foster carer has their own named social worker who is available to give you all the advice and support you need. We also operate a 24 hour support and advice line, so you can get in touch anytime, day or night. 

There’s a range of online training courses on offer too, to help you enhance your childcare skills – we will also recommend you attend some key courses run by our dedicated training officer to build your confidence and skills.

To help with the cost of leisure activities, you’ll receive a Council House leisure card which gives you, your own children if you have them and the children you will look after free use of some facilities at our leisure centres during weekends and off-peak times.

Can my weight or medical condition influence my fostering application?

As long as you are fit and healthy enough to meet the demands of looking after a child then you can be considered for fostering.

All potential foster carers are required to undertake a full medical check-up with their GP to assess their health.

We are happy to discuss this at the home visit stage.

Is there such a thing as being too old to foster?

So long as you’re aged at least 21, you’re eligible to become a foster carer. There’s no upper age limit.  

What if I smoke?

We understand that being a smoker does not affect your parenting skills. However the knowledge and awareness that we now have about second hand smoke means that we are looking to place children in smoke free homes whenever possible.

If you are a smoker and want to become a foster carer, we will provide all the advice and support we can to help you quit or cut down your smoking.

For further information please read our our Guidance for foster carers and adoptive parents about smoking.

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