Choosing to become a foster carer is among the most life-changing and rewarding decisions you’ll ever make – just ask any of the 55,000 UK foster families who’ve opened their hearts and homes to a child in need. Every year, thousands of children rely on the love and support of a foster family, and you stand to make a real difference to a young person’s life by becoming a foster carer.
If you’ve ever considered fostering but have questions and concerns about your eligibility and the challenges involved, now is the perfect time to get the information you need to take your first step towards becoming a foster carer. This month, we’re championing Fostering February, a nationwide campaign raising awareness for what foster caring involves, and dispelling the myths and falsities surrounding it.
To provide guidance and information to prospective foster carers, we’ve pulled together a collection of comprehensive guides on what it takes to foster – from who’s eligible to getting started with the assessment process. The guides are designed for those who have previously considered fostering, and cover a variety of topics to help steer you on the path towards realising your potential as a loving and committed foster carer.
Who Can Become a Foster Carer?
One of the biggest concerns people have about fostering is whether or not their circumstances mean they’re eligible. The truth is, provided you’re over 21, have a spare room in your home, and are able to care for and nurture a child, it’s likely that you can apply to become a foster carer.
When you apply to foster with the NFA, we’re less concerned about your age, marital status and whether or not you own or rent your home, and more interested in your ability to provide a safe, nurturing and comfortable environment for a child in need. We welcome applications from people of different ages, sexual orientations, and cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds – so anyone over the age of 21 has the potential to foster.
We understand that your age, personal circumstances or different aspects of your lifestyle may be holding you back from becoming a foster carer. So, to help alleviate any concerns you have about whether you’re fit to foster, we’ve compiled the following guides which help clarify our position on who can get into fostering.
In fostering vulnerable young people, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. While you may think your character, personality or lifestyle make you unsuitable to foster, this may not be the case. It takes all sorts of personalities to foster a child, so never let self-doubt get in the way of realising your potential in foster care. This guide reaffirms our belief that anyone has the capability to become the perfect foster carer.
While we all have a view on what makes the ideal foster carer, it’s not our opinion that matters, but that of the vulnerable young children who need our care and support. This guide details the perfect foster carer from a foster child’s perspective, and unsurprisingly, there’s no mention of age, income or marital status – simply the want for a loving and trusting home.
One of the most common misconceptions about fostering is that you can’t care for children when you’re over 55. This is false. Indeed, a large number of our carers are of this age, and their vast life experience and knowledge prove invaluable in helping to nurture and care for vulnerable children in a stable and loving home. If you’re over 55 and thinking of fostering, this guide offers the help and insight you need.
Many people believe that being single is a no-no when fostering a child, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Provided you can offer a safe, supportive and nurturing home for a child in need, your marital status plays no part in your capability to foster. Here, learn more about the facts of fostering as a single carer.
Yes, they can. Just like single parents, we don’t discriminate against same-sex couples, we’re only interested in the type of home they can provide for a vulnerable child and if a dedicated spare room is available. In fact, since new adoption and fostering laws were introduced in 2006, we’ve seen a growing number of LGBT couples become foster carers – could you join them? Find out everything you need to know about fostering as an LGBT couple or individual in this guide.
A basic requirement of all foster families is that they have a spare room in their home in which a young person can feel safe, comfortable and protected. This allows for the continuation of routines while minimising the impact on family life, and provides a safe space for vulnerable children to adapt to life in their new home. For further information about Fostering Services, you can view the National Minimum Standards Regulations 2011. See section 10.6 in relation to spare rooms.
For more information on who can become a foster parent, visit our fostering page.
How do I Become a Foster Carer?
Once you’ve decided to become a foster carer, understanding what to do next can be difficult. From an outsider’s perspective, fostering can seem complex and unmanageable, particularly whilst trying to balance other aspects of your life. But with our help, you can learn just what it takes to become a foster carer, and get the ongoing help and support you need to start to make a difference to the lives of young people.
From choosing the right foster care agency to the ins and outs of the assessment criteria, we want to make your road into fostering as simple as possible. Read our comprehensive guides to becoming a foster carer below, and gain the confidence to take your first step towards fostering a child in need.
For those in a hurry, this guide outlines the process of becoming a foster carer, highlighting key steps in the fostering cycle – from your initial assessment to gaining continuous training and support from our experienced fostering support team. We give you the essential information you need to know before setting out on your fostering journey.
Start searching for routes into fostering, and you’ll find a variety of different independent and local authority fostering services. The question is: which one is right for you and your family? This guide helps you identify the type of foster care agency that’s appropriate for you, while offering guidance on the sort of questions you should be asking your chosen agency before you start the application process.
As a foster carer, you have a choice of whether to work with an independent fostering agency or a local authority provider. Whichever route you go down, you’re still providing an invaluable lifeline for vulnerable young people, but it’s worth knowing the differences between the various foster services before registering your interest.
We understand that you may feel apprehensive about the fostering assessment process, but it shouldn’t be enough to put you off becoming a foster carer. To help put you at ease, this guide takes an in-depth look at our assessment criteria, so you can enter the application process with more confidence and a greater understanding of what to expect.
Many people think that becoming a successful foster carer takes years of time, stress and legwork, but our team is here to help the fostering approval process move as smoothly and quickly as possible. Here, we look at 15 key steps in the foster approval process, from your initial enquiry to post-approval home visits and profile matching.
Giving a vulnerable child a caring, supportive and nurturing home is a team effort, and at the NFA, we consider ourselves part of a family of carers and support workers dedicated to offering children the help and support they need. As a foster carer, you’ll become part of that family, with 24-7 ongoing support throughout your fostering journey. Learn more about the support and guidance you can expect in our guide.
Find Out More About Fostering February
For those thinking about becoming a foster carer, the Fostering February campaign aims to educate people on the process of caring for vulnerable children, while dismissing the misconceptions about fostering. Taking place throughout the month, the initiative can help you get the information you need to take the next step towards becoming a foster carer.
To find out more about Fostering February, visit the campaign’s Twitter and Facebook pages for information on how you can get involved and show your support for this valuable and worthwhile initiative.
As the UK’s leading independent fostering agency, we support Fostering February and encourage anyone who’s interested in becoming a foster carer to get involved in the event. To find out more about how we can help start your fostering journey, visit the homepage or call us now on 0330 022 9135.