Myth Busting about Fostering
There are so many myths associated with who can foster, which means that many people often rule themselves out of being able to be a foster carer without taking the steps to enquire. The fact is that foster carers come from a whole variety of backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and ethnicities. Some are single, and some are in a relationship. Sexual orientation is not a barrier to fostering.
Some foster carers own their home, others live in rented accommodation, some in houses and others in apartments.
Regardless of who you are, what you do and where you live, if you are considering fostering, then we would love to talk to you.
We are very happy to answer any questions and provide more information, so if you have a question, then let us know and drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Who can foster?
You don't have to have children of your own to be able to foster
We consider any relevant experience you may have of working with or caring for children as a big positive. We have single foster carers who have not parented themselves but have been involved in the lives of their relatives’ children or have worked with children.
We will support you to understand child development and therefore a lack of relevant experience is not an automatic barrier to fostering, as we will consider your strengths and abilities as an individual, but ideally it is recommended that foster carers have a degree of experience of dealing with children.
British citizenship is not required to be a foster carer in the UK
However, we expect you to be a full-time resident in the UK. Children from a wide range of backgrounds need fostering, therefore it is important that foster families come from all walks of life too. If you are in the UK for a limited time, we will take this into account due to the time and cost implications of approving you to foster.
There are a high number of children and young people in foster care who do not have English as their first language. It is important that we match a child with such needs to families who can speak the child’s language wherever possible. As a foster carer you will need a good level of spoken and written English to be able to communicate with other professionals and support a child’s education and be able to make notes and keep records that are required.
Your religion is not an issue and should not affect your application to foster
We work to support children being placed with foster families that can meet their needs, including religious needs. However you may need to consider how you will feel about discussing issues such as alternative religious beliefs or ethical issues with a child, as it is important that you abide by our fostering policies.
It is important to be open with us and inform us if there is a someone new in your life, who you feel will play a prominent role in your life going forward. If the person is involved in the care of the children or young people you are looking after in any way, they must be assessed and approved too. Our duty to safeguard the children will always be paramount.
You don’t have to be married or in a relationship to foster
There are loads of fantastic foster carers who are single, both male and female and we tailor our support of you to enable you to be successful. We work hard to match you with a child or young person that compliments your strengths. It is important that as a single foster carer you can evidence that you have a network of support from relatives or friends as there will be times when you might need to call upon them.
There are many foster carers in their 60’s and 70’s
What is important is that you are fit and healthy and able to manage the needs of children you are approved to care for. You will be required to have a medical assessment by your GP, regardless of your age, as part of the fostering assessment. If you are in receipt of medical treatment, we will seek advice on your behalf so that we can advise you of the potential impact of fostering.
Your sexual orientation is not important to being a foster carer
We look to ensure that you can provide a child or young person with a safe, loving and stable home. Your gender does not, determine whether you are suitable to foster.
There is no legal lower or higher age limit for fostering. There is an expectation that foster carers will have sufficient life experience to enable them to meet the needs of children placed with them, and we therefore prefer foster carers to be at least 21 years of age.
A criminal record does not automatically stop you from becoming a foster carer
The law states that the only criminal convictions that prevent people from fostering are those that relate to an offence against children or a sexual offence. We will consider where you may have committed minor offences. You are required to disclose any criminal convictions when you apply to foster and we will obtain an enhanced disclosure and barring (DBS)check on your behalf. We will explore any convictions or cautions with you.
Some of our foster carers continue to work alongside fostering. This can be full or part time, but when caring for school age children it is important that the children’s individualised needs can be met. This often means that foster carers work flexibly around the need to support a child or attend training or meetings about the child. At times there may be several meetings to attend. Foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, attend meetings, training, support groups, and to promote and support contact between a child and their family. We would not usually consider it appropriate for a fostered child to be in full-time day-care while their foster carer works but may consider the use of afterschool clubs and other childcare arrangements for children if these are seen to be in the child’s best interests.
Where foster carers are in a couple, they often share the need to attend meetings and support children to get to and from school.
It is necessary to demonstrate that you are financially stable. Fostering is unpredictable and you may not always have a child living with you. Part of the assessment process is to establish how you will support yourself in the event of not having a child living with you. We look to ensure that you will not be wholly relying on the foster allowances and fees. Therefore you may need to consider, when you are not fostering, how you will support yourself financially whilst waiting for a child to be placed with you. We have foster carers who work flexibly (for example as an agency worker) so that they can work when they are in between foster placements.
You can foster if you are receiving benefits.
As a foster carer, you will receive fostering payments when a child is placed with you. The government support for foster carers, includes fostering payments often being disregarded as income when calculating welfare benefits or only the taxable income from fostering being regarded as income. There is a generous tax scheme in place for foster carers, whereby many foster carers’ taxable income is zero. There is a government site where more information is available.
The size of your house will not necessarily be a determining factor in whether you can foster or not. We will as a priority ensure that you have a spare room that is big enough for a young person to live in, and whether the accommodation is safe.
Not owning your own home does not prevent you from fostering but you will need to demonstrate stability. We have lots of foster carers who live in rented accommodation. We will check with your landlord that they are happy to support your application to foster whilst living in the rented accommodation. It is important that you can provide privacy and the space required by the children you are approved to foster.
You can apply to become a foster carer when you live with your parents. During the assessment the fostering service will explore who would be the ‘main’ foster carer and if anyone else will be involved in caring for the child or young person. If necessary, they will have to be assessed and approved too, to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of the child in your care.
Having a disability does not prevent you from being a foster carer.
We look to approve foster carers who are physically and psychologically fit enough to care for children and meet their needs. We will seek a medical report from your GP as part of the assessment process, sharing this with our own medical officer who will provide a further report on the impact of fostering on any chronic illnesses you may have. Medical information is only one part of your assessment. We consider all information and always seek to enable foster carers to be successful in their role. Where we feel a medical illness may adversely be affected by fostering, we will discuss this fully and openly with you. There is nothing in the fostering regulations or standards that would require us to turn down an application based on any named illness, disability, past or current medication or treatment. It is necessary for us to determine that you are fit and well to support children in your care.
As stated above we endeavour to ensure that people who apply to become foster carers are physically and psychologically fit enough to care for children and meet their needs. We treat applicants fairly, without prejudice, openly and with respect.
We will seek a medical report as part of the assessment process, and any relevant mental health problems that may appear as part of your medical information will be shared with our medical officer as part of the assessment process.
We work without prejudice, openly and with respect. Our medical officer will consider and then report on the impact of fostering on your health and well-being. This will be raised with you and as part of the assessment will be discussed openly to identify how you will mitigate any risks to your health.
Where a foster carer smokes, we consider the impact of this on any children or young people who may be placed with them. We encourage foster carers to stop smoking. Foster carers who smoke are unable to foster children under the age of five years and children with certain conditions where smoking may impact detrimentally on their health. We expect foster carers to be good role models for children and young people and therefore we prefer that foster carers do not smoke in front of children and provide a smoke free environment for children in their care.
Having a dog or other pets does not prevent you from fostering.
Pets are very much part of normal family life and we see pets generally as a huge positive. We will undertake pet assessments as part of the formal assessment process. This is required to ensure that their temperament and behaviour are not a risk to the safety of a child. It is worth considering how you may feel if a child harms one of your pets. We acknowledge that this would likely upset you, and we will work to match the needs of a child with your whole family, including any pets you may have.
It is not essential for foster carers to be able to drive, but it is required to ensure children and young people have access to good public transport enabling children to easily attend appointments, activities, school and contact arrangements with their family.