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Thinking about fostering FAQs

FAQs

Finances, benefits and tax

  • What is a foster carer allowance?
  • Does foster carers' pay affect benefits?
  • How much is the foster care allowance?
  • What is a fostering allowance?
  • Is foster care pay taxed?
  • Do foster carers pay National Insurance?
  • Do foster carers get tax credits?
  • What benefits can you claim if you're fostering a child in the UK?
  • Will my home insurance cover malicious damage by my foster child?
  • Can I get discounts for clothes and activities for my foster child?
  • How do I show I’m the carer of a foster child?
  • What is Qualifying Tax Relief for foster carers?
  • We foster as a couple – how should we do our taxes?
  • As a foster carer, do I need an accountant?
  • Do I need to complete a tax return for fostering income even if I am below my tax threshold?
  • I didn’t realise I had to register as a self-employed foster carer - will I get fined?
  • When do I need to submit my tax return for foster care?

What is fostering?

  • What is foster care or fostering?
  • What is a foster carer?
  • What will I know about my foster child before they arrive?
  • Can I choose the child I foster?
  • Can I take my foster child on holiday?
  • How long does a foster child stay with you?
  • Does a foster child need their own room?
  • Is it ‘foster carer’ or ‘foster parent’?

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 in the LGBT+ community?
  • Can you be a foster carer if you are retired?
  • Can you be a foster carer if you have a criminal record?
  • Who can be a foster carer?
  • I’m LGBT+ and single. Can I be a foster carer?

Support and training

  • What training do foster agencies offer foster parents?
  • Do you need qualifications to become a foster carer?
  • What support will I get as an LGBT+ foster carer?
  • Where can I learn how to foster a child?
  • Can I do a course on looking after a special needs foster child?
  • What do I do if my foster child behaves badly?

Types of fostering

  • What are the different types of fostering in the UK?
  • How long does a fostering a child last?
  • Can I foster a baby?
  • Do I need an extra bedroom to foster a baby?
  • Can I decide how long I'll foster a child?
  • Can I foster a child at weekends?

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?
  • How many foster children are there in the UK?
  • Can I transfer to National Fostering Group from another fostering agency?
  • How do I transfer from another fostering agency?
  • How do I become a foster carer?
  • How long does it take to become a foster parent?
  • What background checks and references do I need to become a foster parent?
  • What is a foster agency Initial Home Visit?
  • What happens at a Fostering Panel interview?
  • In fostering, what is a Form F?
  • How long does it take to train to become a foster carer?
  • What happens after I’m approved as a foster carer?
  • Will my family have background checks when I apply to become a foster parent?
  • How do I foster a child?

Why foster?

  • Is fostering for me?
  • How do I talk to my family about fostering?
  • How will fostering a child affect my family?
  • What if my child and foster child don’t get on together?
  • What behaviours can I expect from my foster child?
  • Why do children need fostering?
  • Will I find it difficult when foster children move on?
  • I've read that fostering a child will change my life. Can it?

Finances, benefits and tax

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. Your fostering allowance will not affect your eligibility for Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, or Carers’ Allowance/Disability Living Allowance for your own child. Fostering counts as self-employment, so you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Find out more about state benefits in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.

How much is the foster care allowance?

Foster parents are paid, on average, £22,000 per annum. They usually pay none (or hardly any) tax on their foster care allowance (fostering allowance) due to Qualifying Care Relief. An extra allowance might be paid for children with special requirements like disabilities, or where the foster carer is especially skilled. Additionally, you might be eligible to claim Working Tax Credit. Find out more about state benefits and more in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.

What is a fostering allowance?

This is the amount paid to a foster parent for the care of a child. Your fostering allowance covers food, clothing, travel, activities, savings and anything else your foster children may need. It includes enough to help with your own living expenses.

National Fostering Group pays a far greater allowance than the minimum amount set by the UK government. We don’t want you to struggle financially, and you should always be able to give your foster child what they need.

Seeing as every child and young person is different, we’ll also give you guidance on what your fostering allowance should be spent on. This will take into consideration any specific needs they have to maintain a healthy and balanced life. Read more about the foster care allowance on our Financial Support page.

Is foster care pay taxed?

Generally not. Income tax exemption on foster care pay is called Qualifying Care Relief and means you don’t need to pay tax on the first £10,000 your household makes in any year (the amount is less for shorter periods). Foster care pay is subject to additional tax relief of up to £250 a week for every week a child is in your care. You can find more details on Qualifying Care Relief and how to work out if you have any tax liability in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.

Do foster carers pay National Insurance?

Yes, the UK government requires that foster carers pay self-employed National Insurance contributions. You must register as self-employed when you become a foster carer. If you’d like extra information or some help setting up, call the Newly Self-Employed Hotline on 0300 200 3504. You can call them from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, or 8am to 4pm on Saturdays. They’re closed on Sundays and bank holidays. Read more about foster care pay on our Financial Support page.

Do foster carers get tax credits?

Some foster carers do receive tax credits like Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits (if you have a child of your own). The amount depends on quite a few variables, including how often you work, how old you are, and how much your household income comes to.

Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s best to contact HMRC for an assessment. You can call them on 0345 300 3900. They’re open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, or 8am to 4pm on Saturdays. They’re closed on Sundays and bank holidays. Read more about foster carers’ pay in our Support & Benefits section.

What benefits can you claim if you're fostering a child in the UK?

Your eligibility to claim benefits depends on your individual circumstances, so we can’t give you a simple yes or no answer. However, there are some general trends you might find useful to know.

If your benefits come from a local council, voluntary organisation, or a private organisation on behalf of the local council, paid foster work shouldn’t affect your benefits. If you claim Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, or Employment and Support Allowance, paid foster work could affect your benefits.

The best way to find out where you stand is to contact your local Jobcentre Plus. You can find the phone number you need on the Job Centre Plus contact page. Alternatively, seek specialist advice from an advisory agency like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. You can also read more on our Financial Support page.

Will my home insurance cover malicious damage by my foster child?

With us, yes! Foster carers sometimes struggle getting adequate home insurance to cover things like malicious damage by a foster child. However, our foster carers have exclusive access to a specialist home insurance policy that does just this. The policy covers damage or loss caused by a child in your care, including malicious damage and theft of items in your home by the foster child. It also includes legal liability cover for injury or damage caused by the foster child, plus more. Read about home insurance that includes your foster child, and other benefits.

Can I get discounts for clothes and activities for my foster child?

If you are looking after a foster child through National Fostering Group, you’re entitled to claim or apply for perks and benefits. These are in addition to your fostering allowance (what you get paid) and any welfare benefits you claim (like Working Tax Credit) while you foster a child. The perks and benefits include specialist home insurance, discounted cinema tickets and trips to West End shows, high street retailer discounts, money off leisure activities, free access to Encyclopaedia Britannica… the list is a long one! Discover more about discounts when you foster a child with us.

How do I show I’m the carer of a foster child?

Some carers experience inconveniences when they start to care for a foster child. These range from having difficulty picking up prescriptions, to liaising with the school or other important partners. All our carers have the option to get a free Foster Carer ID card to help make things run more smoothly. Once you’ve been approved for a foster child, speak with your Supervising Social Worker or Carer Recruitment Officer about getting foster child carer ID.

What is Qualifying Tax Relief for foster carers?

This tax relief covers foster care and parent & child placements. The scheme means that foster carers don’t pay tax on their income from fostering up to a certain threshold. Because threshold is generous, most National Fostering Group foster carers do not pay any tax at all; a small number pay tax on the amount over the tax threshold. Another benefit of Qualifying Tax Relief is that you don’t have to keep complicated accounts. At the end of the financial year (5th April), you work out if you owe HMRC using a simple calculation. Find out more about Qualifying Tax Relief in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.

We foster as a couple – how should we do our taxes?

Couples who foster a child together sometimes wonder whether one person should declare all of the fostering income (as the main carer) or split it between them as a partnership. Most couples who foster only register as a partnership when they both foster on a full-time basis, which means they will be more likely to go over their tax threshold. Being a partnership for tax purposes enables them to split their tax threshold and total fostering payments in half, with each declaring their half on their own tax return. Each may also be able to use their personal tax allowance. You can find out more information about partnerships in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.

As a foster carer, do I need an accountant?

Most foster carers find they can complete their self-assessment tax return themselves without needing an accountant. We can support you if you need it. HM Revenue & Customs also has a useful helpline. However, if you have complicated tax affairs or you prefer someone to complete your tax return for you, you may want to employ an accountant. You can find out more information about self-assessment tax returns in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.

Do I need to complete a tax return for fostering income even if I am below my tax threshold?

Yes – all foster carers need to register as self-employed and complete a self-assessment tax return. The process is quite straightforward and we can help if you need it. You can find out more information about Income Tax in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.

I didn’t realise I had to register as a self-employed foster carer - will I get fined?

Some people who have been fostering for a long time may not realise that they had to register as self-employed. HM Revenue & Customs may issue a fine. You have the option to appeal if they do and provide evidence to show you were unaware you had to register. Follow the steps outlined on our Tax and Foster Care page to see if you are likely to have a tax liability, and discuss this with them when you call.

When do I need to submit my tax return for foster care?

There are two ways you can submit your tax return – paper and online. You need to complete paper tax returns by 31st October after the end of the tax year (5th April). Online tax returns need to be completed by 31st January after the end of the tax year. You can find out more information about tax returns in our Foster Carer Pay and Allowances section.


What is fostering?

What is foster care or fostering?

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, or fostering, 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 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.

What will I know about my foster child before they arrive?

As with most aspects of foster care, the specifics depend on each individual case. We’ll always share as much information about your potential foster child as possible, but sometimes we may only have basic details. This is often the case in emergency situations, where children or young people have to be moved very quickly.

In all cases, our team will work as quickly as they can to piece everything together. And you will always be the one who decides whether you feel they are the right fit for your family. We won’t ever force you into a situation where you feel pressured or obligated. Read more about fostering.

Can I choose the child I foster?

Before you start caring for a foster child or young person, we will agree on the types of children who would fit in with your family and skillset.

Throughout the fostering assessment process, we work with you to identify your strengths and figure out where your hard work will be the most helpful. We’ll also talk about your ambitions. For example, if you’re interested in working with a foster child who has specific needs, we’ll train you up on the appropriate skills. Read more about fostering.

Can I take my foster child on holiday?

We encourage you to give your foster children the opportunities to experience as much as possible. And going on holiday is a great way for them to feel like part of your family. Your Supervising Social Worker will need to give permission. It’s rare for them to turn down the offer, as it’s usually such a beneficial experience, but occasionally there’s a genuine reason why they cannot. Read more about what fostering is all about.

How long does a foster child stay with you?

Fostering can be fairly flexible, within reason. It depends on what the foster child needs, and what you want too. Some children you foster might be emergencies, so the foster child might only stay a night or two. Other short-term foster care might be a few weeks or could actually go on indefinitely. Even though fostering is intended to be a temporary solution, a foster child could potentially stay with you for years, if it’s appropriate and you’re happy with that. (Some long-term foster children become members of your family and stay in touch for years.) Read more about how long a foster child might stay.

Does a foster child need their own room?

Yes, a foster child will each need their own bedroom. Technically, babies and toddlers under the age of two years can sleep in the same bedroom as their main carer. However, for practical reasons, National Fostering Group requires all our foster carers to have a spare bedroom available for a foster child, regardless of their age. Read more about the reasons why a foster child needs their own room and the implied importance of safe spaces.

Is it ‘foster carer’ or ‘foster parent’?

There is no difference between a foster carer and a foster parent. The role demands exactly the same professionalism, skill, warmth and compassion, whatever name it is known by. However, some people who look after a foster child just prefer the term ‘foster carer’, while others prefer ‘foster parent’. We don’t mind which you use. Find out more about what it takes to become a foster carer or foster parent in the UK.


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. and who can foster.

Can you be a foster parent if you are in the LGBT+ community?

Yes, you can be a foster parent if you are LGBT+. 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.

Who can be a foster carer?

Our foster carers come from all walks of life and each brings with them unique skills and talents. You must have patience to work through difficulties and the dedication to invest time and energy into supporting a vulnerable child.

You need to be available around the clock (or have a partner you can share this responsibility with). You will have a spare bedroom for your foster child. As a foster carer, you will be asked to be the voice for our children when they need you to be. A sense of humour is also high up there!

You don’t have to be perfect to be suitable to be a foster carer; if you have a passion to help give a child an incredible future, we will provide all the support and training you will need along the way to be the best foster carer you can be.

I’m LGBT+ and single. Can I be a foster carer?

More people are becoming aware that being LGBT+ isn’t a barrier to fostering – and neither is being single. It’s a myth that fostering is only for heterosexual married couples. What matters is your ability to provide a stable, loving and safe environment for a vulnerable child. As a member organisation of New Family Social, a charity that supports LBGT+ fostering, we’re very encouraging of LGBT+ applicants. If you have any more questions about your suitability to be a foster carer, read our who can foster page or get in touch with your local agency team.


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.

What support will I get as an LGBT+ foster carer?

As an LGBT+ foster carer, you’ll benefit from our membership of New Family Social, a charity dedicated to supporting LGBT+ foster carers. Their services – free to you – include peer support forums, information and training. This is on top of the full support package all our foster carers get – support through your application and throughout your time as a foster carer with us. This includes a dedicated Supervising Social Worker; a professional team of support staff; 24/7 emergency backup; a buddy; and a supportive peer network of other foster carers. Read more about foster carer support.

Where can I learn how to foster a child?

If you’re suitable to foster a child with National Fostering Group, we will offer you as much training as you can handle! This starts with your mandatory basic training on how to foster a child, with optional training provided on a range of topics. Our training courses are designed so you can use your experience to its best effect, as well as learn new skills to help you foster a child. All our courses are free and delivered locally or online.

Can I do a course on looking after a special needs foster child?

We offer courses in a wide range of topics, including specialist training. In practical terms, this might be a course about how to care for a foster child who has challenging behaviours, or who has Autism or Asperger’s. We encourage you to take part in additional training throughout your time with us – it will give you confidence and skills to be the best you can be for your foster child, which will have more positive outcomes for them. Read more about our training courses that help you care for a foster child.

What do I do if my foster child behaves badly?

All children behave badly at some time and your foster child will be no different. The way you deal with their behaviours will be similar to how you would manage your own children – this might include removal of privileges, negotiating better behaviour, and so on. If you’re stumped on how to tackle it, you can ask your Supervising Social Worker or another foster carers for advice. In addition, we cover managing foster child behaviours appropriately in your basic training and additional, specialist topic courses (all free).


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

How long does a fostering a child last?

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

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

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

Can I foster a baby?

Babies, children and young people up to the age of 18 can be fostered. Babies and young children tend to be put up for adoption but will be fostered during a transition period (called bridging foster care). A foster baby is usually placed with an experienced foster carer whose skills will be closely matched the child’s particular needs – for example, if they have a medical or developmental issue. You will need to be open to other types of fostering, like toddlers or children of primary school age. Read more about the different types of foster care.

Do I need an extra bedroom to foster a baby?

No – it’s expected that a young foster baby would stay in your bedroom, at least until the age of six months. Your bedroom will need to be large enough to comfortably accommodate a cot and other necessary equipment. A foster baby can stay in your bedroom until the age of 2; they will then require their own bedroom. Read more about fostering a baby and other types of foster care.

Can I decide how long I'll foster a child?

You decide how long you foster a child for, in the context of the types of foster care you will accept. During your foster carer assessment, your social worker will work with you to define what kind of fostering arrangement will suit you (and your family if you have one). You might not want to commit to foster a child for long periods at a time, for example, so you might decide you only want to accept emergencies or provide respite care at weekends. On the other hand, you might be keen to commit to a long-term fostering. We will match your needs to those of the foster child, so the arrangement suits everybody. Read more about how long you can foster a child for.

Can I foster a child at weekends?

If you work full time but you’d still like to foster a child, providing emergency or respite foster care at the weekends might suit you. Emergency foster care is just that – they happen suddenly and you might only have an hour or two’s warning. Respite foster care can be a planned event, even a recurring one. This is where you foster a child (who possibly has special needs or a disability) so their family can have a break. Read more about the different ways you can foster a child.


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.

How many foster children are there in the UK?

Figures indicate that around 80,000 children are looked after by local authorities and fostering agencies in the UK. The majority of these children are placed with foster carers with agencies like National Fostering Group. The number of children requiring foster care in the UK is rising every year and new foster carers are in demand. Read more about becoming a foster carer.

Can I transfer to National Fostering Group from another fostering agency?

You have every right to transfer to us from another fostering agency, or even if you are registered with a local authority. It’s a straightforward process. Please get in touch with your local office by completing our enquiry form. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

How do I transfer from another fostering agency?

It’s straightforward to transfer from your current fostering agency or local authority to the National Fostering Group. The process will vary slightly depending on the agency you’re with now and also whether you have foster children living with you. Read more about transferring to another fostering agency or make an enquiry with us.

How do I become a foster carer?

Apply to become a foster carer with an independent fostering agency like National Fostering Group, or with your local authority. If you choose to become a foster carer (also known as a foster parent) with us, we have a seven-step framework to approve and induct you as a foster carer in the National Fostering Group. Your first step is to get in touch with our team. We will arrange to meet with you and your family at your home for an Initial Home Visit.

Together, we will start compiling your Form F, enrol you into basic training, and prepare you for your assessment by the Fostering Panel. If you are approved, we will help get you ready for fostering your first child or young person. Read more about the process of becoming a foster carer in the UK or, if you’re ready, make contact with your local office.

How long does it take to become a foster parent?

Once you get in touch, your application will take on average, from four to six months. Caring for children and young people is an important commitment, so we need to get to know each other well and be sure it’s right for everyone concerned. During this time, we will also do background checks, a medical check with your GP, assessments and training. You will have your Assessing Social Worker with you every step of the way. Read more about the process of becoming a foster parent.

What background checks and references do I need to become a foster parent?

We’ll get your permission to perform background checks on you and your family, including criminal checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), medical checks with your GP, background checks with local authorities, and suitability checks with three referees (non-family members) provided by you. Where there is a charge for these checks, we will pay for them. Read more about the process of becoming a foster carer.

What is a foster agency Initial Home Visit?

Your Assessing Social Worker is a member of our local foster agency. They will arrange to visit you and your family on a regular basis throughout your assessment period – the first is your Initial Home Visit. You’ll get to know each other well and they will complete your assessment report with you. Together, you’ll work out what types of fostering fit your lifestyle best and what types of foster child you will be most helpful to. Read more about the process of becoming a foster carer and the support you can expect.

What happens at a Fostering Panel interview?

Once your Supervising Social Worker has collected all the information they need, your Form F and background checks are passed to a Fostering Panel. The panel is made up of fostering, educational and care professionals. You will be invited to attend the meeting at your local fostering office or another local venue. Members of the panel might ask you some questions to help them make a decision. Your Assessing Social Worker will be at your side to offer support throughout. Read more about the Fostering Panel Interview.

In fostering, what is a Form F?

When you apply to become a foster carer, you will work with with your Social Worker to put together all the information needed for your assessment and approval. This is assessment is officially called a Form F. It summarises your suitability for fostering and details your skills and experiences. Read more about the fostering assessment.

How long does it take to train to become a foster carer?

During your assessment to become a foster carer with the National Fostering Group, you are required to take part in a three-day Skills to Foster course. This course is mandatory and, like all our training courses, free of charge. It will be delivered at a venue local to you. Skills to Foster has seven modules that prepare you for your new role. We encourage you continue training for as long as you are a foster carer – you can choose from a wide range of courses, both online and local to you.

What happens after I’m approved as a foster carer?

We will begin matching you with a suitable child or young person. When a match is found, we will liaise with your local authority and pass your details on. You might meet with your potential foster child beforehand or they may be brought to you immediately, depending on the urgency of their requirements – for example, if a emergency foster care is required. You might be feeling nervous about fostering for the first time, but don’t forget you will be supported by your local agency team, especially your Supervising Social Worker. They will do all they can to help you care for the vulnerable child or young person you care for. Read more about how to get approved to become a foster carer.

Will my family have background checks when I apply to become a foster parent?

Yes. If you have a family when you apply to become a foster carer, your family will be involved too. You foster together, as a family. This means your whole family will be assessed when you apply. Read more about the process of becoming a foster carer.

How do I foster a child?

You will need to apply, go through an application process, and undertake training. First of all, we recommend doing your research thoroughly if you think you want to apply to foster a child. It’s a big commitment and potentially life-changing, so you want to know you’re making the right decision. Use our website to explore the fostering application process, the different types of fostering and the qualities that make you suitable to foster a child.  If you still feel fostering might be for you, get in touch.


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.

How will fostering a child affect my family?

Naturally, the dynamic in your home will change with the addition of another person who has their own likes and dislikes. You’ll need to adapt routines and incorporate the needs of the young people you care for. Thanks to your assessment process and training, you’ll understand potential changes you might need to make and you’ll be prepared.

Also, our wonderful community of foster carers and your local team will help you find your feet and make it a positive experience. Fostering is incredibly rewarding. Knowing you’ve all made a worthwhile decision to make a significant difference to someone’s life is something your family could feel excited about. Find out more about the rewards and benefits of fostering.

What if my child and foster child don’t get on together?

From time to time, your children and foster children will fall out or have a clash of personality. It’s quite normal – after all, siblings can fall out just as easily. Your own skills, experience and training will help you resolve their problems. Over time, you’ll find yourself becoming quite fluent in finding practical solutions.

If you get stuck, you can also ask your Supervising Social Worker – they are there for your children as well as you and your foster children. Read more about the support you get. Our community of expert foster carers are also happy to offer support and practical advice, as many will have been through this too! They prove that, even when it’s challenging, fostering is very rewarding.

What behaviours can I expect from my foster child?

Like everyone and anyone, foster children behave according to age, development and experiences. Whereas some sing happy songs all day long, others act out as the result of personal trauma. Some may have been in foster care for a number of years, but others will still be coming to terms with separation from their families and friends.

When a foster child is overcoming painful experiences, they often have complex feelings they can’t express. This could result in behaviours like lying, stealing and self-harm, loss of sleep, eating disorders and general withdrawal from society.

At all times, you both have the support of a professional team because we recognise how your care and perseverance will truly help your foster child. We train you to build resilience and in tactics that help you support and nurture the children in your care. By showing how you care, great improvements can be made, no matter how severe their initial behaviours are. Read more about why you should foster.

Why do children need fostering?

Children and young people need fostering for many, very different reasons. It might be due to periods of family instability caused by difficult circumstances. Sometimes, children and young people need fostering because they are at risk of harm or neglect from a member of their family. Or, fostering might be used to support families and children with special needs. Each case is different but fostering has the potential to bring about positive outcomes. Read more about why you should foster.

Will I find it difficult when foster children move on?

After investing your time and energy into caring for a foster child, it’s inevitable you’ll miss them when they leave. More often than not, they’ll have gone through significant changes for the better and you’ll feel – rightly – proud to have contributed.

As ever, you’re not alone. Your Supporting Social Worker, National Fostering Group support network and peer groups are by your side. Share your feelings and ask for advice. Many members of our team have been foster carers; our advice for the best way to get past this feeling is to take on your next foster child and start helping them.

Over time, you will develop strategies for coping and it does become easier to say goodbye and we will support you every step of the way. Read more about why you should foster.

I've read that fostering a child will change my life. Can it?

Your decision about fostering a child has far-reaching implications – so yes, it’s safe to say it will change your life. You might have to give up your job or reduce your hours, for example. If your children have left home, you’ll have to get used to having a child around again. You will make new friends, learn new skills, and discover things about yourself you didn’t know.

We often describe fostering a child as an adventure, and it is – for everyone concerned. It has potential to change the lives of your family and friends as well. And, of course, your foster child’s too.


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