What is fostering?
Fostering is when children and young people come to live with a foster carer because their parents are unable to care for them. It’s a temporary arrangement that can last for anything from a few days to a few months or even years, and there are many different types of fostering placements.
What is the process of becoming a foster parent?
To become a foster parent, all applicants start with a chat over the phone with a member of our team, followed by a home visit. It is after this stage that you'll be invited to complete an application form which will enable us to carry out a number of statutory checks and start your assessment. Following an assessment you will be invited to attend our Fostering Panel which makes a recommendation to our Agency Decision Maker who decided whether to approve your application to foster. The process takes between 4 - 6 months. Find out more.
What is the difference between fostering and adoption?
Fostering and adoption are very different. Fostering involves caring for a child on a temporary basis and offering them the support they need to move on in life. Adoption, on the other hand, is a permanent arrangement that involves taking on full legal responsibility for a child until they reach adulthood. To learn more about the difference between fostering and adoption, read our About fostering page
Do I get any breaks or holidays while fostering?
Fostering can be difficult at times and, like everyone, foster carers sometimes need a break. That’s why we provide all our carers with regular respite or, if that isn’t appropriate for the your person you are caring for, we’ll help towards the cost of a family holiday instead.
What kind of support will I receive?
Fostering People offers Ofsted rated Outstanding and Care Inspectorate rated Excellent support to all our fostering families. You will be supported by a local team which will include your own supervising social worker and a regional fostering manager. You will have access to support 24 hours a day, every single day of the year.
Will I receive any specialist training?
Yes, we believe fostering is a journey – and the more you know, the more you’ll get out of it. That’s why we provide ongoing training opportunities for both our foster carers and our staff. Before you’re approved as a carer, you’ll attend a preparation course designed to get you and your family ready to foster. And once approved, you’ll take part in our comprehensive training programme.
What type of company is Fostering People?
Fostering People is a privately owned foster care agency. This means we work closely with local authorities to find suitable foster placements for looked after children they are unable to place with their own approved foster carers. This could be because the local authority is facing a shortage of foster carers or the child has complex needs and requires a specialist placement. Fostering People is proud to implement the Mockingbird Family Model, an alternative method of delivering foster care. Find out more about us.
What is the difference between a fostering agency and the local authority?
Unlike a local authority, fostering is all we do. As a fostering agency our role is support our foster parents. For local authorities their remit is much larger and involves supporting birth families, child protection and supporting children. By being able to focus all of our efforts on our foster parents, we are able to ensure you have the very best support.
Why foster with an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA)?
Unlike local authorities, who are responsible for fostering, adoption and child protection, Independent Fostering Agencies, like us, focus only on fostering. This means that we can devote all our time to our foster carers and looked after children. As fostering specialists, we’re better equipped to offer you the support, advice, guidance and training you need to provide the best possible foster care. Find out more about fostering with an IFA.
What is an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA)?
An Independent Fostering Agency like Fostering People is a private organisation which recruits, trains and supports its own foster carers. Local authorities use IFAs to provide fostering placements for children in need of care which they have responsibility for.
How long do you keep a foster child?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to how long a child will be with you. It could be days, weeks, months, or years – it all depends on the child’s needs and the type of fostering placement you’re able to offer. Sometimes a short-term placement can turn into long-term foster care because the child is thriving in their environment.
What’s the difference between long-term fostering and adopt?
Long-term fostering and adoption may look similar but there are important differences. If you foster a child, the legal rights of that child remain with the local authority, whereas adopting a child gives you all legal rights. Another main difference is that as a long-term foster parent, you continue to receive a financial allowance for as long as the child is with you. There is no financial allowance when you adopt.
What’s involved in the long-term fostering matching process?
Once you’ve been approved to be a foster parent, our fostering team and social workers will assess your abilities, skills, and circumstances, and compare this to the needs of children awaiting long-term foster care. Once we think there’s a good match, you’ll get all the information you need to make an informed decision. If you accept the match, the child’s social worker will be notified and a final decision will be made.
What are long-term foster care parents’ rights?
As a foster parent, you don’t receive any legal rights over the children or young people in your care. All legal rights remain with the local authority until they reach adulthood or otherwise specified.
What do I need to become a respite foster carer?
You need to be over the age of 21, have a spare room in your home and be in a good position to look after a child or young person.
What is respite foster care?
Respite foster care gives parents a short break from fostering. Another foster family looks after the child in care for a few days up to a couple of weeks, allowing parents to recharge their batteries and unwind.
Who can foster?
Who can apply to become a foster parent?
Fostering is available to anyone over the age of 21 as along as you meet the criteria.
Do I need any experience to become a foster parent?
It would be helpful, but it’s not essential. Our foster carers come from all backgrounds and not everyone has experience of working in childcare. We’ll work with you to help you identify your transferable skills and offer you the training and support you need to prepare for your fostering journey.
Are there any criteria I have to meet?
Yes, the essential criteria you need to foster are, over 21 years old, have a spare bedroom and have the time to commit to a child. Find out more.
Do I need any special qualifications to foster?
No. We provide ongoing training during and after approval to help you develop your fostering skills.
Why does a foster child need their own bedroom? Can’t they share with my own children?
Everyone needs their own space. This is especially important for foster children, who may have experienced traumatic situations and are having to adapt to life in a new house with different people and routines. In a time of turmoil and uncertainty, having their own space can be extremely comforting for looked after children. That’s why we’ll only place a child or young person in a home where he or she will have their own bedroom (unless they are a young sibling group). Find out more.
How old do I have to be to become a foster parent?
Anyone over the age of 21 can apply to be a foster parent, although we would not normally approve anyone below the age of 25 unless they have experience such as growing up in a fostering family or significant child care experience.
Am I too old to foster?
There’s no upper age limit when it comes to fostering. As long as you have the energy and enthusiasm to get involved in the more active elements of fostering, such as dropping children at school or taking part in outdoor activities, you can foster.
Can pensioners become foster parents too?
Yes, age is no barrier to fostering. In fact, many of our carers join us after they’ve retired or finished raising their own families. What’s important is that you’re patient, compassionate and have the energy to meet the demands of fostering - whatever your age.
Can I foster if I have kids?
Of course! Having your own children is a great way to gain the experience you need to become a foster carer. If you do have your own children living at home, we'll carefully consider their needs when matching you with looked after children and young people.
Do I need to own my own home to foster?
No you don't. If you rent either via a private landlord, housing association or council, we will contact them early in the assessment to ensure they our happy with their property being used for fostering. It is advisable to talk to your landlord about your wish to foster.
Can I foster if I'm single?
Yes, you don’t have to be in a relationship to foster. Our foster parents can be single, married, cohabiting or in a civil partnership. In fact, almost 28% of our foster parents are single.
Do I have to be married to foster?
No, we have foster carers who are single, cohabiting, married and in civil partnerships. If you’re in a relationship, we’d like it to be at least two years old. If you’re living with a partner, it should have been for a minimum of one year.
Can I foster if I'm gay?
Yes, we welcome carers of all sexualities. It doesn’t matter to us whether you’re gay or straight, male or female, bisexual or transgender. What’s important is that you’re patient, compassionate and able to provide a safe, supportive environment for a child or young person. Find out more
I’m disabled – can I still foster?
Having a disability won’t necessarily prevent you from being a foster carer. We consider all our applicants on an individual basis. Like all foster parents, you’ll be asked to complete a medical check before being approved to foster with us. This is so we can ensure you can meet the needs of foster children without putting your own health at risk.
Can people from all religious groups become foster parents?
Yes, we welcome carers from all religious and cultural backgrounds. Where possible, we try to place looked after children with foster carers from the same cultural or religious background so they can meet their unique needs. Find out more
I have a criminal record, does this mean I can’t foster?
A criminal record won’t necessarily prevent you from fostering, but it’s important that you’re honest with us right from the start about any convictions you have. In return, we’ll be honest with you and tell you how they could affect your application. If you have any convictions related to offences against children, you won’t be able to foster.
Can you foster if you have pets?
I can't drive, does this mean I can’t foster?
No, you don’t have to drive to foster, although it can make life a lot easier. If you don't drive or have access to a car then it’s important to think about how you’ll help the children in your care get to school or attend visits with their birth family.
I'm a smoker, can I still become a foster parent?
Yes, although you won’t be able to foster any children under the age of five. As a foster parent, you’ll be setting a strong example, so we’ll ask that you avoid smoking in front of the children in your care and never in your home or car.
Can I foster if I take antidepressants/have depression/have had depression?
Yes you can if your current mental health is stable. We would not advise anyone taking antidepressants to stop taking them to foster if their health is improved and stable because of them.
How do I apply to be a foster parent?
Applying to be a foster carer begins with a telephone call to our friendly fostering team on 0800 077 8159. We’ll chat to you about the process and what’s involved, and talk you through what happens next. Visit our how to become a foster parent page to find out about more about applying to foster with us.
What does the application process involve?
There are a number of steps involved in becoming a foster carer. It all starts when you call our fostering line on 0800 077 8159. We’ll chat to you about what’s involved and arrange for one of our fostering advisors to visit you at home to go through the process in more detail. If you decide you’d like to apply to foster with us, we’ll give you an application form. Find out more about what’s involved.
What checks are carried out as part of the application?
To help find out whether fostering is right for you, we’ll carry out a number of checks on you and your home. These include: Police checks, a standard safety check on your home, employment references, school references, financial stability checks, health checks and personal references. You can read more about each check on our checks and references page.
How long does the fostering application take?
The length of the application process can vary from carer to carer. On average, it takes around 4 - 6 months to complete your assessment and be approved as a foster carer. Visit our How to become a foster parent page to find out more about what’s involved.
Does it cost me money to apply?
In most cases no, it doesn't as we cover most costs. There are a few exceptions, such as if you've lived abroad, you'll need to apply for a criminal record check in that county and will be liable for the cost of that check, which we will refund if you are approved. Some foster parents need to make small changes to there home to meet the health and safety standards and you will need to cover the cost of that too. All homes need to have a gas certificate to ensure a child will be safe and the cost of this is covered by the applicant.
Can I apply to be a foster parent online?
Yes you can. You can enquire with us here. Following a home visit, you can complete your application online securely on our website and we will give you the link to enable you do do this.
Who will be assessing my application to be a foster parent?
When you apply to foster with us, you’ll be allocated a supervising social worker. They’ll guide you through every step of the application process and work with you to create a detailed report called a Form F. This will then be presented to a fostering panel who will make the final decision on your suitability to foster. Visit our how to become a foster parent page to find out more about the assessment and fostering panel.
If I’m going to be the main foster parent, do you need to carry out checks on my partner as well?
Yes, we need to carry out all the checks for both of you. If you have adult children living in the home we will also need to carry out some checks on them too.
Who will be assessing me?
You will be assessed by a fully qualified social worker with assessment experience. The social worker may work for Fostering People or may be an independent worker.
What training will I receive to be able to foster?
All of our applicants complete our 'Skills to foster' training, a 3 day training course during assessment. You will also undertake some training at home called 'Next Steps to fostering'. Once approved you'll receive ongoing training throughout your time with us, some of which is mandatory and other courses which are optional but designed to develop your skills. Your supervising social worker will work with you to identify the best training for you each year.
What if I'm already a foster parent and wish to transfer?
Are foster parents self-employed?
Yes, as a foster parent you are self-employed.
Transfer to us
I’m already a foster carer, how do I transfer to Fostering People?
Transferring to us can be easier than you think. That’s because we’ll work with you and your current fostering agency or local authority to make your move as easy and stress-free as possible. It all starts when you call our fostering line on 0800 077 8159. Visit our transfer process page to find out more.
How long is the process for transferring?
We are able to fast track assessments for experienced foster carers, we aim to complete this in 3 months.
Do I have to complete a new Form F assessment?
Yes, the Form F is not transferable and your current Form F belongs to the agency you currently foster for. However the Form F process can be quicker as you have been through it before and your past hasn't changed. We will focus on your fostering experience to date since the completion of your last Form F Assessment.
Am I able to transfer with my current child in placement?
In order to transfer agencies with children in your care a protocol meeting will be held between ourselves, the local authority responsible for the children in your care and your current fostering agency to discuss this. This will be arranged automatically once you have informed your current foster provider and your child's local authority about your intention to transfer. We will talk you through this process in more detail if you decide to process to an initial visit.
Do I need to attend Skills to Foster training?
You are very welcome to attend our Skills to Foster training, and its a great way of getting to know people, especially those that will be new to Fostering People at the similar time to yourself. But we appreciate that attending pre-approval training isn't right for everyone with experience of fostering, so although we do encourage you to attend, it isn't mandatory.
You will need an induction session to Fostering People, so you understand how we operate and what we need from yourself. This session can take place on the last day of the Skills to Foster training, so we will invite you to this session on its own if you do not wish to attend the full course.
Does a foster parent get paid for fostering?
Yes, go to our financial calculator to gain an idea about how much you could receive.
How much is a foster parent paid?
Our foster carers do a fantastic job, which is why we reward them for their hard work with generous fostering payments. The exact amount you’ll receive will vary depending on the type of placement and the individual needs of the child. On average, our carers receive over £443 per week per child for a child over the age of 5. Visit our fostering allowances page to find out more.
Do foster parents need to complete a tax return?
Yes you do, foster parents are self employed and as such need to complete a self assessment tax return. As a foster parent with Fostering People you are given free membership to Foster Talk who can help you with this and can even do this for you for a small nominal fee.
Will I be paid in between fostering placements?
No, we don’t pay a retainer fee in between fostering placements. We can aim to leave as little or as much time in between placements as you wish. If you’d like continuous fostering placements, you may want to consider fostering a teenager as well as younger children.
Do foster parents need to keep receipts for all expenses?
No, but you can if you wish. Most foster parents use HMRC's fostering tax allowance which means that you don't need to record all of your expenses. If you have main a purchase for a child which isn't covered by your fostering allowance but has been agreed in advance by the local authority, you would need to keep this receipt to make a claim.
Can I still go out to work if I become a foster parent?
Yes, you can! Although many foster parents prefer not to. We offer generous fostering allowances so that the main foster parent doesn’t have to work. This means you can be constantly available for the child in your care, and able to attend meetings and continue training. Other foster parents prefer to work part-time and make themselves available at short notice, such as if their child falls ill at school. We have foster parents who continue to work and others who’d rather stay at home. We’ll look at this with you and consider your individual circumstances.
Do foster parents receive child benefits?
Foster parents do not receive the child benefit for a foster child in your care because they are paid a fostering allowance instead. Fostering will not affect the child benefit of any birth children or adoptive children in your family.
Can I claim housing benefit while fostering?
Because housing benefit is a means tested benefit, your eligibility is dependent on your own circumstances. The fostering allowance isn't classed as income when assessing eligibility for housing benefit.
Do foster parents need to pay National Insurance.
Yes, foster parents pay class 2 National Insurance contributions. To be entitled to claim a full state pension you need to have paid National Insurance for 35 years.
Do I have to pay tax on my fostering allowance?
As a foster parent, you won't have to pay tax on the first £10,000 you earn from fostering. This is because HMRC provides a fixed tax exemption of up to £10,000 per year (or less if you foster for a shorter period). This tax exemption is shared equally between all foster parents in the same household. Read more >
How much do you get paid for respite foster care?
We offer all of our foster parents a generous financial allowance for looking after a child, even for short-term foster placements. The pay varies, so use our finance calculator to get an idea of how much you could receive.
What types of children need fostering?
Children and young people in foster care are of all ages and ethnicities. Many young people in need of care are over the age of 10 years.
Will foster children have difficult behaviour?
Children come into care for all sort of reasons. As a result, they behave in very different ways. Some may act aggressively, whilst others will be withdrawn. Every child has a different way of dealing with their past experiences – and we’re here to help. Our Why Do Children Need Foster Care? page will help you find out more.
How long will I have to wait for my first placement?
We’ll start the process of matching you with a foster child from the minute you’re approved as a foster parent with us. The length of time between getting approved and having your first placement can vary from carer to carer, but we’ll always try and find the best possible fit based on your approval criteria and preferences. We expect to place your first child with you within 4 – 8 weeks, but this may vary based on circumstances.
Can I choose which age range or gender I would prefer to foster?
All of our foster carers are approved to take children aged between 0 – 18 of both genders, however our carers have a preference within that for a given age range or gender depending on their family circumstances. It’s important to remember that if you are going to be relying on your fostering income you need to be open to a wide range of ages of children. As those that specify a younger child only may have to wait longer for a suitable placement.
Can I choose the ethnicity of the child I foster?
Where possible, we try and match carers with children from the same ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
How does the matching process work?
When matching children to families we look at a range of criteria. Age, numbers of children if siblings, ethnicity, location, religion are some of these. We also look at the needs of the child and your experience, your birth children and pets. Some children need to be placed with single foster parents, other need a busy family home. Find out more
How much will I know about the child or young person before the placement starts?
We give our foster parents as much information as possible about a child before the placement begins. In short, whatever we know, you’ll know too.
Will I be able to meet the child before the placement begins?
In most cases, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the child you’ll be caring for. However, this isn’t always possible – especially if a child is placed in an emergency. Where this happens, we’ll share as much information as possible with you before you decide to welcome the child into your home.
Can I foster more than one child?
Yes, you can. In fact, many of our carers offer more than one placement type and may, for example, be caring for a child on a long term basis at the same time as offering respite foster care. Your ability to offer multiple fostering placements will depend on your own circumstances and the individual needs of the children in your care. Remember – you’ll need to have a spare bedroom available for each child unless you foster siblings of the same gender, where it will sometimes be possible for them to share a room.
How long do fostering placements last?
Every foster placement is different – some last for days or weeks, whilst others can last for months or even years. Although it’s not always possible to know exactly how long a child will stay with you, we’ll give you as much information as possible before and during the placement. Our guide to different types of fostering placements will give you a good idea of what to expect.
Can I choose how long I want a child or young person to stay with me?
There are many types of fostering including short-term, long-term, respite and emergency. Different carers prefer different placement types and we’ll do our best to help you decide what’s right for you. The length of time a child will stay with you will vary depending on their individual circumstances – it can be days, months or even years.
Can I choose the kind of fostering placement I have?
Yes, during the assessment stage you’ll be able to give us a preference. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you’re more likely to have continuous placements if you’re willing to offer more than one type of fostering. Read our types of placement page for more information.
Do I get any extra help if I care for a child who has special needs or a disability?
In most cases foster parents receive an enhanced allowance for a child with a disability or more complex needs. You'll be informed if this is the case during the matching process. Due to our specialist disability service you'll also benefit from our specialist disability support.
Who is responsible for taking foster children to school or the doctors?
As a foster parent it will be your responsibility to take children to school and all medical appointments, activity clubs and to contact with their birth family.
Can a foster child share a bedroom?
A foster child can only share a bedroom with their own same sex sibling. They can't share a room with any other child. At Fostering People we ask for all children to have a room of their own, including babies. Find out more.
Why do children need foster care?
Children need foster care for all sorts of reasons including as a result of family breakdown or illness. They could have become the subject of a child protection order after experiencing abuse and neglect or their parents may be ill and unable to care for them. Whatever the reason, our foster parents offer these children a safe, stable home for as long as they need it. Find out more about why children need foster care.
What are foster children like?
We care for children of all ages, genders and backgrounds. All foster children have faced difficulties and some will have social and behavioural difficulties as a result of this. We tailor our support to meet each child’s individual needs and help them to move on with their life. Visit our Why Do Children Need Foster Care? page to find out more.