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Who can foster a child?

We welcome applications from people of all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, physical abilities and the LGBT+ community. You can be single, married, a homeowner or a tenant. Your ability to care for and nurture a child is what really matters.

Am I suitable to foster a child?

As you’re probably aware, we thoroughly assess everyone wanting to become a foster carer. However, there are a few myths surrounding who can foster – and who can’t.

To clarify, National Fostering Group carers come from many walks of life. This is a significant advantage when we are looking for a good match. A broad range of foster carers provides more choice for an equally diverse range of children and young people who are looking for a nurturing home life.

In short, our main concern is your ability to provide the right care for a vulnerable child or young person. We assess your suitability through:

  • Legal and personal references
  • Your ability to work with us as part of a professional team
  • Your health, background and lifestyle
  • Your skills, attitude and personality, including experience of parenting or caring for children
  • Your ability to provide a caring and nurturing environment, including an assessment of your home. Foster children must each have their own bedroom
  • Age – you must be at least 21 to become a foster carer with National Fostering Group
  • Full-time UK residency or permission to remain
  • Availability to the foster child – if you’re single, you’ll need to be at home full-time or have a flexible, part-time job. If you’re a couple, you’ll need to arrange your working hours so one of you is available at all times.
Fast track fostering application

What can I offer a foster child?

The answer to this is surprisingly straightforward, as you have already been preparing for a life as a foster carer without even realising it!

Whether you have raised children yourself or are new to caring for a child or teenager, your wealth of life experience and knowledge of what it takes to either raise children or be a child growing up within a caring and supportive household is hugely advantageous.

Many of the children in our care are simply looking for a home where a sense of family togetherness and encouragement to succeed is at the forefront of daily life. Drawing on your own experiences of how your parents or guardians raised you will make the ideal reference point for you to start your fostering adventure together.

If you consider yourself as someone who is patient, understanding and readily able to attend to the specific needs of the children in your care, then you are already on the right path towards becoming a great foster carer.

What makes us special?

When I first met with Steven, he didn’t think he could foster due to his colourful past. However, we established often teens can relate to those that have done similar things and come out the other side - they could become a role model for troubled young people to assist them along the right path.

Stacey, Supervising Social Worker, National Fostering Group

You have skills you can transfer to fostering

You don’t have to have had your own children or even worked with kids to enquire about becoming a foster carer with the National Fostering Group. Your individual skills, talents and life experience means that there will always be children that can benefit greatly from your care.

Previous first-hand experience and insight into caring for a child, including knowing how best to respond to a child’s health and emotional needs, is naturally an advantage. Our carers come from a wide range of professional fields and have been able to transfer these skills to foster care.

If you don’t have your own children or cared for them professionally, it is possible you can draw upon other experiences. Have you ever looked after someone else’s children, even if only for a short time? Do people comment that you are good with young people and they respond well to you?

Remember, if you feel you can foster, you’re not in this on your own. We offer excellent support and training to equip you to become a brilliant foster carer.


There are many challenges that come with fostering and looking after any young person can present difficulties. As an LGBT foster carer, we were worried that we would be subject to prejudice from society. We’re glad to say that we’ve not received any such prejudice and fostering has been the most rewarding, fulfilling journey helped by the support of those around us.

Jason & Michael, National Fostering Group foster carers

Become an advocate for your foster child’s health, wellbeing and education

Our foster carers are passionate in their desire to provide vulnerable children and young people across the UK with everything they need to succeed. This means a safe and stable home where they can live a happy and healthy lifestyle, as well as achieve all that they can from their education.

National Fostering Group’s dedicated local teams are behind you all the way, helping you build incredible futures for young people in our care. They will talk through with you and identify areas for personal development as a foster carer, as well as arranging for any additional support services you require.

Other foster carers in your area will be there to help you out too, with events and support groups – great opportunities to meet other foster carers; sharing stories and offering advice as part of a tight-knit fostering community.

On health matters, if you’re a smoker or you use an e-cigarette, this won’t stop you from becoming a foster carer. However, there are some restrictions around fostering a child if you smoke or vape, which all independent fostering agencies must follow.

When combining your own life experience with our nationally recognised fostering training and support, you will feel empowered to make the decisions required to ensure that the child or children in your care can grow up to become well-rounded adults within their respective communities.

Frequently asked questions

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.

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.

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.

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.

Join over 3,000 happy foster carers
Find out if you could be a foster carer
Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.