Foster care provides care for children, in a family setting, who cannot live with their own families. Foster care can last weeks, months or for the rest of a childhood, depending on circumstances.
Who are foster children?
Children are aged from birth to 16 years of age and come into care for a variety of reasons. Problems at home can be resolved quickly, or may take months, or even years. Sometimes a decision is reached that a child cannot return home. If this happens the child may remain with their foster carers or move to permanent foster carers or adopters.
Who can foster?
We welcome applications from across society. You must be:
- over the age of 21
- able to provide a safe and supportive environment for vulnerable children
- willing to undertake continuous professional development
- able to make a full time commitment to the children in your care
- empathetic and non-judgemental
- a non-smoker to foster children under 5 years of age (if you have stopped smoking, this should be at least 6 months before your application will be considered)
- main carer to have current driving licence and use of a car desirable but not essential
There is no such thing as a typical foster carer. You could be single, cohabitating or married.
The responsibility of being a foster carer
Fostering can be a fulfilling career. However it does not come without its challenges. Many children will come from chaotic and disruptive environments. It will be your responsibility to provide a safe, supportive and structured setting in which they can thrive. Children placed within your care may have behavioural issues or disabilities. You will be given training and support to deal with such issues, but you will need to be prepared to meet these challenges.
Apply to be a foster carer
Complete a Fostering, Adoption, Respite or Short Break/Shared Care enquiry form.
What happens next?
We will contact you within 5 working days of receiving your enquiry. We'll discuss the practicalities of fostering and ask you some background information. If you still wish to proceed, we'll invite you to a fostering preparation group.
A social worker will visit your home to carry out an assessment. This will normally take 6 months, at most, from the date of formal application.
We will carry out a series of police and health checks. This will involve joining the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme. The assessment of your application goes to our fostering panel for consideration. Once approved you are able to start fostering.
What support will I receive?
As a foster carer you will have:
- foster carers payments
- the support of a social worker
- training and guidance
- access to continuing professional development
- the opportunity to attend fostering and adoption conferences.
For more information on fostering, please see the following:
- Welcome (PDF, 249kb)
- Different ways to foster (PDF, 277kb)
- Who are the children? (PDF, 318kb)
- What our carers say (PDF, 260kb)
- What support will you get? (PDF, 216kb)
- Five steps to fostering (PDF, 366kb)
- Frequently asked questions (PDF, 300kb)
- Factsheet on tax for foster carers (PDF, 19kb)
- Making suggestions, comments or complaints (PDF, 117kb)
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) provide a course on Tax for foster carers.