Becoming a Foster Parent

Becoming a foster parent:

There are at any one time more than 65,000 children in the UK in the care system and as the population grows so does the number of children requiring foster homes. Choosing to become a foster parent and deciding to give something back to society can be a wonderful but often daunting experience with many people not knowing where to start. We have created a guide to address some of the most common questions asked by those who would like to become foster parents.

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Who can become a foster parent?

Do I need to be married to become a foster parent?

No. You can be married, single, divorced or living together. The main thing that you need is to be able to provide a safe and supportive environment for your foster child.

I work, am I still able to become a foster parent?

Yes, you would be able to work part-time if you are a single foster parent to ensure that you are able to fulfil your commitments, you would need to make sure that your working arrangement is flexible so that you can tend to any emergencies that would arise with a foster child if needed.

If you are a couple who have decided to become foster parents you would need to make sure that one of you is available at all times. This could be making sure that working hours don’t clash or maybe that one parent works while the other is home based to care for the foster child or children.

I am renting, am I still able to foster?

Yes, it does not matter if you are renting or own your home, this will not affect your application to become a foster carer. As long as you have a spare room in your home dedicated to accommodating foster children owner status is not a problem.

I have tenants / lodgers. Can I foster?

You can still consider a career in foster care. However, you will not be able to continue to have a tenant or lodger in the property. Foster carers receive the fostering allowance if they have a child or young person in placement. Please see ‘Fostering allowance’ for further information.

Will my race or religion be an issue?

No, diversity is very important as the foster children come from a variety of backgrounds. People of all races and faiths are needed to foster children.

Do I need any qualifications?

There are no special qualifications needed to become a foster carer, as any parent will tell you, children do not come with a manual. What you do need is a positive attitude, patience and understanding along with time and plenty of energy to devote to your foster children. This is a job like no other and the most important qualifications you can hold are people skills and empathy. A love of children is of course essential and the ability not to take things personally.

I’m old! I want to foster, how do I apply?

Once you have decided to become a foster parent, the first step would be to contact your local authority or the fostering agency you will have an initial chat with the application manager who will run through the process and answer any questions and address any concerns that you may have. The next stage would be for an assessor to visit you at home and get to know a little bit about you and find out more about your reasons for wanting to foster, they will also assess the suitability of your home. You will be given the opportunity to ask any questions and to address anything that you are unsure about.

After this visit with you still wanting to go ahead and become a foster parent, you will be asked to fill in the official paperwork and this is where the serious application process begins.

What Can I expect once I have applied to become a foster parent?

Once you have submitted your application form and this has been accepted a Form F assessment will be completed on the fostering household. Paying particular attention to the skills, experience and knowledge of the applicants who want to become foster carers. Once this is completed, the Form F assessment is presented at the panel who will recommend the applicants’ suitability to foster to the Agency Decision Maker, who makes the final decision. Please see our guide to foster for more information.

How long does this take?

We do our best to process all applications as quickly as possible, usually in six months but more often between three to four months.

If I am approved, what happens next?

Once you are approved, you will be added to the list of available foster carers that the placement team will use to match and place a child in your care. Once a suitable child is matched with yourself, you will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker who will undertake an induction to ensure you have a thorough understanding of the fostering task in preparation for your first placement.

Will I receive any training?

Yes, once you have been approved as a foster carer you will receive initial training and you will be given regular training sessions throughout the year. These will be a mix of new subjects and refresher courses. You will also be given the opportunity to gain an NVQ 2, 3 and 4

The training you will receive will include:

Safer Caring Including Preventing Allegations against the carers and adopters

Promoting Positive Behaviour

Attachment, Loss and Separation

Understanding Difference and Diversity

First Aid

Working with children and Young People with Mental Health Issues, Special Needs including ADHD & Autism

Working with children and Young People who have been abused

Self-Harming and Sexualised Behaviour

Child Sexual Exploitation

Educational Needs of Children and Young People

Drugs and Alcohol Issues & Gang Culture

Core Sexual Health

Is there support available to me after I have become a foster parent?

Yes, there are many methods of support for you, your family and your foster children. You will always have a supervising social worker who will visit at a minimum once every four weeks and undertake weekly telephone calls. We offer support groups where you will meet with other foster carers, this gives you a chance to swap stories and to get advice from others who may have dealt with a similar situation to the one that you are facing. Just because the application process is over, you are not on your own. Support is offered to foster parents from the initial how do I become a foster carer through the application process and beyond.