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Thinking about fostering FAQs

FAQs

Financial support

  • What is a foster carer allowance?
  • Does foster carers' pay affect benefits?

What is fostering?

  • What is foster care?
  • What is a foster carer?

Who can foster?

  • Can you be a foster carer if you have dogs?
  • Can you be a foster carer if you work full time?
  • Can you be a foster parent if you are part of the LGBTQ community?
  • Can you be a foster carer if you are retired?
  • Can you be a foster carer if you have a criminal record?

Support and training

  • What training do foster agencies offer foster parents?
  • Do you need qualifications to become a foster carer?

Types of fostering

  • What are the different types of fostering in the UK?
  • How long does a foster child placement last?

Becoming a foster carer

  • Where can I get advice on how to become a foster parent?
  • Do I have to pay a foster agency money to become a foster parent?

Why foster?

  • Is fostering for me?
  • How do I talk to my family about fostering?

Financial support

What is a foster carer allowance?

This is an amount of money paid to a foster carer or parent to cover the necessities of the care of a child. It is paid weekly to you by your fostering agency. The foster carer allowance is reviewed each year by the government. Foster carers who look after children with specific needs might receive a higher amount. Find out more about financial support.

Does foster carers' pay affect benefits?

If you are receiving foster carers’ pay (fostering allowance), you are still entitled to receive certain benefits. National Fostering Group (NFG) foster carers automatically receive membership to the Fostering Network, which can provide you with benefit and tax advice, plus informative resources. You can also speak with your local NFG agency – use an enquiry form if this is your first contact with us.


What is fostering?

What is foster care?

When babies, children and young people cannot be looked after by their own family, a Local Authority and fostering agency work together to provide them with someone suitable to look after them. Foster care is one option.

The child or young person will temporarily live with another person or family in their home. The foster carer or parent will go through an assessment process, carry out several training courses and will be supervised, as well as receiving a weekly fostering allowance.

There are different types of foster care placements and they can be very short, or can continue for years. New parents who need support with their baby can also be placed in foster care so they can learn the skills and gain confidence. Find out more about foster care.

What is a foster carer?

A foster carer is an adult over the age of 21 who looks after children on a temporary basis when their birth parents are unable to. They are trained and reviewed by supervising social workers and other professionals in their local foster agency team. A foster carer will receive a weekly fostering allowance – in effect, they are paid. Their purpose is to provide a safe and stable family environment for the foster child to thrive in. Foster carers’ homes must have a bedroom for the sole use of the foster child, and there are restrictions on work outside the home. Read more about what a foster carer is.


Who can foster?

Can you be a foster carer if you have dogs?

Pets – like dogs – are great and most of the time, they are not a barrier to your application to become a foster carer. We will need to carry out a safety assessment, especially if a home has more than two dogs of any breed, or a breed of dog identified by the RSPCA as having aggressive tendencies; this list includes Alsations, Bulldogs and Dobermans.

We are unable to consider applications to be a foster carer from anyone who owns a breed of dog registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991/1997. Read more about fostering and pets or get in touch.

Can you be a foster carer if you work full time?

You can work if you are a foster carer, but there are restrictions. If you are in a couple, we ask that at least one of you is a stay-at-home carer or a part-time, flexible worker. Single foster carers can also do part-time work, and this should also be flexible.

This is so that, in your role of foster carer, you can fully accommodate the needs of the child, including meetings with your local support team or school, training sessions and other times that might need your full attention. Read more about working foster carers.

Can you be a foster parent if you are part of the LGBTQ community?

Yes, you can be a foster parent if you are LGBTQ. We assess people’s suitability for fostering on how well they can tend to a child’s needs and make a secure home where the child can thrive. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or questioning, we welcome your application. Discover more about who can be a foster parent and the kinds of questions we might ask when we assess your suitability.

Can you be a foster carer if you are retired?

Being retired isn’t a barrier to applying to become a foster carer, there is no upper age limit. Recent figures show that the majority of foster carers are actually over the age of 50. Maybe your children have made homes of their own or you’re retired or semi-retired. If you feel you have a lot to offer a vulnerable child or young person, age or retired status isn’t stopping you from taking the next step to fostering.

Can you be a foster carer if you have a criminal record?

Your ability to care for a child is the most important element in your application. We do accept applications from a diverse range of people and an offence on your Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) report wouldn’t always rule you out.

We recognise there are many ways to get a criminal record and we will look out all applications and circumstances on an individual basis. All applicants have an enhanced DBS check (we pay for this) and we sometimes get information from other relevant organisations too.

If you’re keen to apply but aren’t sure about the effect of your criminal record, please get in touch – we’re happy to talk you through it.


Support and training

What training do foster agencies offer foster parents?

Access to free, quality training varies between foster agencies. At National Fostering Group, we want our foster carers to feel confident, knowledgeable and, ultimately, be the best they can for their foster children.

Our training courses are available to all our foster carers – completely free and delivered locally and online. They range from the mandatory overview courses for new foster parents, through to tailored training for specialist types of foster care. Find out more about foster agencies’ training.

Do you need qualifications to become a foster carer?

The only special qualifications you need to become a foster carer is your basic training. We provide this training free of charge at a venue local to you.

We do encourage you to sign up for other training to improve your skills, enhance your confidence and broaden your experience. Just like your basic training, all our training sessions are free and delivered at a venue local to you or online. Read more about training.


Types of fostering

What are the different types of fostering in the UK?

The types of fostering in the UK are many and varied. There are numerous reasons for children needing a foster parent; some are urgent and some can be planned for. All children have different requirements, meaning that there are different types of fostering.

Examples include emergency placements, short term fostering placements bridging to adoption placements, mother and baby placements and respite care. Find out more about the different types of fostering in the UK.

How long does a foster child placement last?

As a foster parent, you can decide what types of fostering placement you would like to do. Sometimes the type of fostering has direct bearing on its duration.

In the UK, a foster child might stay for a long-term placement lasting several months to several years. At the other end of the scale, emergency foster child placements might be for one night or a few days. Short term fostering placements might be up to a few weeks or months.

Bridging to adoption placements, mother and baby placements and respite care are all special types. Find out more about the length of foster child placements in the UK.


Becoming a foster carer

Where can I get advice on how to become a foster parent?

Our website is a great resource, covering all aspects of how to become a foster parent – from real life carer stories to the nitty gritty about finances.

Importantly, we can also support you even before you apply from our local offices. National Fostering Group has agency offices all across the country, staffed by professional teams who can help. You can make contact with your local team by filling in our enquiry form for a call back.

During the call, you can ask us about anything. We want you to have the information you need to make your decision. If you decide to go ahead, your local team will guide you through the application process. Read more about the process of becoming a foster parent.

Do I have to pay a foster agency money to become a foster parent?

It doesn’t cost you anything to become a foster parent with the National Fostering Group. We don’t charge any fees for you to apply to become a foster parent.

We pay for your Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, and we also pay for the GP check-up, as one is required during your assessment. Once you become a foster parent, we continue to support you with free 24/7 support, free training and access to other free resources. Find out more about becoming a foster parent.


Why foster?

Is fostering for me?

This is a question only you can answer – but we’ll do all we can to help you make an informed decision. It’s true that foster carers need certain qualities – like patience and warmth – do you think this sounds like you?

Fostering is challenging, so you need to be up for this too. It’s also very rewarding, so if you really want to feel you’re putting your efforts into a truly worthwhile direction, then fostering might just be for you! Take a look at other reasons to foster.

How do I talk to my family about fostering?

You should talk about the idea to start fostering with your family, especially if you’ll all be living under the same roof. We have had a lot of positive feedback from the children of foster parents, who feel they’ve been enriched by the experience of having a foster sibling.

We do support you and your family from the start. Rest reassured, we make every effort to place a child with you that mutually suits your circumstances and specific family dynamic. If you’d like to know more about this aspect of fostering, fill in our quick enquiry form and speak to the team in your local area.


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