Foster carers look after vulnerable children and young people who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to live with their own birth families. Some children may also have physical or learning disabilities (or both) and need specialist care, others may have suffered abuse or have been temporarily removed from a family in crisis.
You can be single, married, living together, male, female, gay, lesbian, working, unemployed or retired. You can own your own house or rent. A few minimum requirements include:
- Having a spare bedroom for the child to sleep. Foster children cannot share with birth children
- Being over 21 (there is no upper age limit)
- Being healthy and willing to have a medical
- Having experience of caring for, or working with children
- Having a good support network of family and friends
- Possessing a caring nature and a commitment to providing a loving and stable home.
We urgently need more foster carers for children of all ages, especially teenagers and specialist placements, who can offer long and short term homes.
We will make sure that you are fully prepared to become a foster carer and ready to meet the needs of different children - see help and support for more information.
Types of fostering
There are different kinds of fostering which reflect the diversity of the needs of the children who come into foster care, including general fostering, short break fostering and more.
There are lots of misconceptions out there when it comes to who can and cannot become a foster carer. We do not exclude anyone from consideration on the grounds of sexuality, race, marital status, gender, disability or employment status. Here are some of the common myths:
- I'm too old... FALSE
There is no upper age limit as long as you feel you are healthy enough to look after a child.
- I can’t afford to foster... FALSE
We offer a generous weekly allowance ranging from £195 to £586 per child per week, depending on the age and needs of the child, and the skills and experience of the foster carer(s). We also offer additional allowances for birthdays and Christmas.
- I can’t continue working if I foster… FALSE
You must consider the demands of looking after a child and whether your hours are flexible enough to fit around this for school runs, meetings and appointments. You would also need to be available during holidays and when they’re ill (check your employer’s foster carer policy).
If there's anything else you feel may hold you back from fostering, see our most frequently asked questions (FAQs) to dispel your concerns and help you decide whether it’s right for you.