You might still be able to foster a child if you have a disability. If you’re approved as a foster carer and claim a disability allowance, it won’t be affected by the fostering allowance.
We welcome applications from people of all ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds, physical abilities and the LGBTQI+ community. You can be single or married; homeowner or tenant; young or old.
Some of our carers have a physical or psychological disability and need additional or tailored support. But, when it comes to choosing who can foster, what matters is your ability to care for a child.
It’s important to remember that our foster children and young people come from different backgrounds and some of them have disabilities, too. It’s inspiring when they see positive role models from equally diverse backgrounds and abilities or disabilities. We value the contribution our disabled foster carers make to great outcomes for foster children.
During your application, we’ll ask you about your disability and how it affects you day-to-day. Whether you experience physical or mental health challenges – in the long-term or short-term – we can have an open discussion about fostering with a disability. Your wellbeing is important and we want to make sure your needs are met, as well as those of the foster child.
So, if you have a disability and want to foster a child, we’ll make sure you’re not taking on anything that could adversely affect your physical or mental health. We also need to ensure you’ll receive the support you need. Having a disability needn’t prevent you from achieving your dreams of becoming a foster carer.
I see in Nigel that he brings so much resilience and determination and understanding of how it is to work with challenges.
We understand that having any type of physical or psychological disability or impairment can be immensely challenging. It often requires patience, persistence and determination to manage aspects of life that other people might think of as routine.
But patience, persistence and determination are exactly the qualities that benefit our children and young people and provide the basis for them to thrive. A foster carer who can empathise with young people who may have experienced many difficulties and challenges in their lives can be invaluable in guiding them towards a brighter future.
When you’re approved to foster, we’ll discuss with you how a foster child (or children) will be matched with you and your family. We take great care over matching every foster carer and every foster child. From your perspective though, we realise some types of disabilities make it difficult to care for younger children – on the other hand, teenagers may be ideal!
Wherever we can, we’ll make it so you’re able to foster in the way you’d like to. Our teams are made up of supervising social workers and managers, support groups, buddies, mentors and training staff. They provide a very high level of support because we want you to feel properly equipped to look after the children in your care and feel there’s a strong network of support around you.
Before we applied to foster, there were so many reasons why we felt we wouldn’t be suitable – being gay, living in a flat… If I’d known then that I had MS, I’d just have added that to the list. But it’s not true. None of these things prevents you from fostering. In actual fact, my lifestyle with MS lends itself pretty well to what foster children need.
Darren and Nigel didn’t have disabilities when they applied to become foster carers but, with support, have continued in their roles. They’ve both experienced ways their disability changes the dynamic of their fostering relationships, though without affecting the level of care they provide.
Darren is a foster carer for Heath Farm in Kent and a Mockingbird Liaison Worker. He has primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). Alongside husband James, he was already an approved foster carer with our Heath Farm fostering agency in Kent when his MS was diagnosed, though he probably had it for much longer.
“Heath Farm were incredible and our supervising social worker went out of her way to help,” he said. “They organised a course of counselling sessions for me. We felt fully supported and embraced.”
His diagnosis strengthened his bond with the foster child they had then, who he is still close to. “Seeing me being vulnerable enables him to be vulnerable,” Darren said. “Seeing I am imperfect enables him to accept his flaws.”
Darren and James currently care for two foster children under 10. They are typically energetic – though Darren is sure that his ‘slowness’ is ‘comforting’.
Nigel is a foster carer with Fostering Solutions North West and, with wife Penny, has been fostering since 2007. His eyesight was damaged unintentionally by a foster child in 2018 – he lost the sight of one eye and is sight-impaired in the other.
Penny is the primary carer and Nigel is the secondary carer. He also works outside the home as a hotel manager. “The support we’ve received as foster carers has been phenomenal,” he said. “The team at Fostering Solutions is strong and inclusive and supportive. They bend over backwards to ensure we have what we need and can continue to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children and young people.”
Nigel can’t read to the foster children like he used to do, but he’s able to help with spelling and maths, and takes as full a part in their care as he’s able to. He believes that his disability has brought some of their foster children out of themselves as they learn to care about the needs of another person.
More than 8,000 new foster carers are needed UK-wide to provide homes for children in need of a foster family. If you’re thinking of becoming a foster carer, now’s the time.