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What can disqualify you from fostering a child?

The assessment process of becoming a foster carer is rigorous, of course. Saying that, there are only a handful of factors that will prevent you from applying to become a foster carer.

What would stop me from fostering a child?

You might think that a minor criminal conviction or having depression will stop you from becoming a foster parent. This isn’t true. Fostering applications are welcome from people of all backgrounds – our children are diverse, so our foster carers need to be too. However, the 5 factors below will prevent you from being approved.

1. A history of violent or sexual offences

The majority of our foster children come from homes where they have been subjected to neglect, violence and abuse. No matter how long ago it happened and how you’ve turned your life around, you won’t be approved for fostering a child if you have a criminal record for violent or sexual offences.

Minor convictions are another matter. We recognise that people make mistakes, usually when they’re young and sometimes because they’ve also experienced a troubled home life.Foster carers like Tim, who was in and out of prison in his 20s, can offer the benefit of their experience and empathy to foster children, including young offenders who find themselves in care. Discover how Tim turned himself around and his thoughts on how to be a foster carer.

2. A dog breed requiring registration

Pets are members of your family and many foster children respond well to having pets around – dogs, cats, snakes, fish, guinea pigs, horses: you name it! On the whole, pets are not a blocker to becoming a foster carer. There are some exceptions.

We can meet your pet (or pets) during your initial visit and do a safety assessment. We’ll also pay special attention to breeds that have been identified as more aggressive, such as Alsatians / German Shepherds and Bulldogs.

There are a small number of dog breeds that we don’t allow in foster homes – any breed of dog that you’re required to register under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991/1997. This includes Pit Bull Terriers and Japanese Tosas.

3. Significantly restricted capabilities due to health or disability

We have many foster carers who have a disability or a physical or mental health issue. Everyone’s different. Approval for fostering requires a nuanced exploration into your situation and capabilities. The key question we ask is: can you provide or help provide a foster child with what they need?

It’s worth noting that everyone who applies to become a foster carer has to complete a health check. Also, you can discuss your situation at length with your Assessing Social Worker during the application process.

With mental health and fostering, we consider a range of factors. This includes medications you take to manage your condition, the type of issue and its severity, and how your mental health is right now.

If your physical health poses a challenge, or you have a disability, you can help us understand your issue, how you’re managing it, and how it might change over time.

Similarly, with a disability, again this is on a case by case basis – disability is a broad range of conditions and issues, from ADHD to PTSD to being blind. Anyone needing care themselves won’t be able to be a sole foster carer, but can apply within a fostering couple. You might be interested in Jack’s story about being a foster carer with muscular dystrophy.

4. Working full-time outside the home

Foster carers need to be available to meet the child’s needs, including for school runs, parent evenings, hospital appointments, and meetings with the social workers involved in the care of the foster child.

Being a foster carer isn’t a role you can fulfil successfully if you’re fostering as a single person and have a full-time job outside the home. You might be able to work part-time if your employer is open to flexibility of hours and understanding about your responsibilities if there’s an illness or emergency. If you’re a fostering couple, you can arrange working hours between you, so at least one of you is available at all times – in which case, it would be possible for one of you to work full time.

Don’t hand your notice in just yet – approval to become a foster carer usually takes around 16 weeks (4 months).

5. Not enough rooms or space in your home

If you don’t have a spare room or enough communal space in your home, you can’t be approved as a foster carer. We assess the impact on free space across the entire household. Communal space is just as important as private space and the whole family needs to feel comfortable and have their needs met.

Your foster child will need a separate room of their own with a door and a window that’s for their use only. It will be located on the same floor as your bedroom or the floor above. On a basic level, a foster child’s bedroom needs a window, door, bed, storage, desk and chair, and a radiator. It should be big enough to play or do other activities in.

Same-sex siblings can share a room under some circumstances. Birth children can also share, under some circumstances. Foster children and birth children can’t share a room. There are limitations on converting communal rooms into bedrooms.

What makes us special?

Our foster carers are inspiring. The carers I work with never shy away from any situation and their dedication and passion to support these children is admirable.

Lynne, Supervising Social Worker

Can I foster?

After all that, let’s talk about what we’re looking for in a foster carer. Bags of patience and compassion. Genuine love for working with children. The ability to practice therapeutic fostering (training given) and work with other professionals. The gift of being able to create a safe space.

Experience is good too. If you’ve worked in sectors like education, the emergency services, care or healthcare, you’ll be especially suited to a foster carer role.


  • If you’re over 21, you can foster
  • If you’re LGBTQ+, you can foster
  • If you’re a single man, you can foster
  • If you’re retired, you can foster
  • If you came from foster care, you can foster
  • If you’re disabled, you can foster
  • If you rent your home, you can foster
  • If you’re religious, spiritual or have no religion, you can foster

How to become a foster carer

If you need more information about this, the best thing to do is get in touch and speak to someone about your next steps.

You might like to try our  Can I Foster? tool, which answers common questions about suitability to foster, based on a personalised Q and A style format. If you’re ready to chat with a real person, contact your local team.

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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.