What is Fostering? – What is Foster Care?


Fostering is a way of providing a stable family life for children and young people, who are unable to live with their parents at a point in time. This allows children the chance to thrive in a safe, secure, loving and caring home environment with foster carers.


Fostering is a way of providing a stable family life for children and young people, who are unable to live with their parents at a point in time. Foster Care allows children the chance to thrive in a safe, secure, loving and caring home environment with foster carers. The children and young people placed with foster carers are from a diverse range of backgrounds and will display different behaviour depending upon their various experiences.

All children and young people are different, making it difficult to define a “typical child”. However, what you can expect is that, as with any child or young person, they need security, stability and the chance to develop and thrive with carers who understand what is fostering and have empathy for the child’s situation.

Foster Carers

Foster Care is different from adoption, because an adoption order ends a child’s legal relationship with their natural family, whereas looked after children (the children in foster care) remain the legal responsibility of the local authority and/or their birth parents.

Foster carers placements can last for days, months or even years. Many children return home to their families but others may receive long-term support; either through continued fostering, adoption, residential care or by being helped to live independently.

Sunbeam strives to find fostering solutions for the many young people in care. For this reason, Sunbeam provides various types of foster care and training to teach carers all about what is fostering.

Sunbeam specialises in offering different types of placements and fostering solutions.

How To Foster A Child

The decision to foster is an important one. How to Foster a Child is an important question for anyone considering fostering, and requires a lot of thought and consideration. Sunbeam has created a specific Guide to Foster Care to help you decide if fostering is right for you, and answer the question of how to foster a child.

Foster Care

Although fostering a child is a major decision, Sunbeam has created an informative guide and a step by step online application, to make to process of Foster Care as streamlined as possible.

Fostering a child will no doubt change your life, and it is best to get as much information as possible. Read our insightful foster carer profiles on Foster Care and their experiences and advice to those seeking to enter the profession.

With the right background and support, fostering a child can be a rewarding experience. As an private fostering agency, Sunbeam aims to support and guide all its foster carers on how best to foster a child by providing up to date training and development, and staff committed to the welfare of both children and foster carers.

Can I Become A Foster Carer?

We aim to ensure that each child’s needs are met and matched as closely as possible, we use the following selection criteria:

Applicants able to accept teenagers
Applicants comfortable with parents visiting their home.
An ability to reflect on life experiences and to mature through them.
Previous employment or experience in children’s services – paid or unpaid.
If living with a partner/ spouse, the relationship should be established and secure.
Applicants who show a willingness to work towards meeting care standards for fostering.
An ability to see beyond children’s behaviour, and to link it to past trauma, where applicable
An empathy for and natural ability to nurture children traumatised by separation from their birth families.
Applicants with particular skills and experience in specific areas as learning difficulties, medical problems etc.
Applicants with experience of previous fostering and/or close involvement with someone who has already fostered.

About Sunbeam Fostering Agency

Sunbeam Fostering Agency has local offices around the country, and we continue to develop and maintain close, personal relationships with our carers and the local communities we support. We do our very best to make sure that every fostering experience inspires confidence and creates wonderful opportunities for the foster child and the fostering families.

We know that care is a community effort. That’s why we build excellent relationships with local authorities and the wider communities we serve. Together, we strive to meet the needs of foster carers and fostering a child, whatever the challenges these young people have faced in life so far.

Support is what keeps fostering working, and we’re dedicated to encouraging our amazing foster carers to grow with us. We support them totally so they can make real differences to a child’s life. Our unrivalled support and training is shaped by our carers and tailored to meet the needs of the children.

>We are delighted that so many other dedicated individuals, couples and families have joined us throughout the years to make Sunbeam Fostering the outstanding agency, it is today.


The process of becoming a foster carer is summarised below. You will receive full support at all stages and help with anything you are unsure of.

01. Make an Enquiry
Sunbeam will contact you for an initial discussion and arrange for an enquiry form to be completed over the phone or online. If the enquiry is positive a worker will call you to book an appointment to come out and see you if you wish to proceed further with your enquiry.
02. Initial Home Visit
A worker from Sunbeam will visit to discuss fostering with you further, to gather some background information about you and your family and to check you have appropriate bedroom space in your home and discuss any other Health & Safety related issues. At this point, you will be asked to provide photocopies of ID and some other documents and to sign a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check consent form. If the visit is positive application form can be completed following the home visit or alternatively this can be completed later and send to us by post.
03. Application form
Once this is completed and your application is accepted, a formal assessment will begin.
04. Fostering Assessment
The assessment process sometimes called a ‘home study’ or ‘Form F’ essentially involves a review of your suitability to provide foster care. This will be undertaken by a skilled member of our staff and you will receive full support at all stages. As part of the process, you will be required to: 1. Provide references – both personal and employment 2. Undertake a medical check with your GP (paid for by us) 3. Consent to other checks with Local Authorities, schools or other agencies
05. Preparation training
You will receive specific training through a three day training course to prepare you to foster and to achieve “Skills to Foster”. Attending courses will also allow you to meet other carers, share experiences and learn more about foster care. For carers wishing to look after disabled or challenging children, additional training will be provided at this stage.
06. Panel
Following completion of your training and fostering assessment, the report will be submitted to an Independent Panel for approval recommendations to be made in terms of the numbers and ages of children that can be placed with you. You will be asked to attend the Panel with the social worker who completed your assessment.
07. Approved
The Agency decision maker will have the final decision regarding your approval. Once approved you will then be a registered carer with Sunbeam Fostering Agency, and be able to take “looked after children” and young people into your home and care for them. You will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker to help and support you. The path to becoming a Foster Carer requires a commitment to the assessment process and our current foster carers would be happy to share their experiences of the assessment process. To become a foster carer contact us today.

Download – Guide to Fostering a child

Guide to Foster


Please click on the link below to download a copy. If you should like any additional information on the assessment process and what is involved, please let us know. Our recruitment team is also on hand to answer any questions you may have and we look forward to hearing from you.

Apply To Become a Foster Carer

    Frequent Questions

    About becoming a foster carer
    01. 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.
    02. 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.
    03. 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.
    04. 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.
    05. 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.
    06. 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.
    07. 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.
    08. 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.
    09. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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

    Still have any question? Feel free to get in touch with us.