An in depth guide to fostering

Last updated: 26 January 2022
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2. Who can foster and what factors are taken into account

Applications from all members of the community are welcome as we need a wide range of people to meet children and young people’s very different needs.

We are committed to recruiting carers from diverse racial, cultural and religious backgrounds.

People do not need to be married to become a foster family - they can also be single, divorced or cohabiting. We also welcome enquiries from the LGBTQ+ community.

Age

There are no upper age limits but it is expected that carers are healthy and mature enough to work with the complex needs that some children may have.

Applicants wishing to care for children under 12 should be aged 21 or over. To be considered to care for teenagers, an applicant needs to be at least 25 years old.

Relationship or marital status

If you are in a partnership, either through marriage, civil partnership or a stable living arrangement, you can foster. People of all sexual orientations and genders can foster.

You will need to demonstrate that your partnership is stable, permanent and will be able to withstand the challenges that fostering can bring.

Single people can also foster. This arrangement can be seen as a positive choice for some children.

As with people in partnerships, applicants will need to show that they have strong and supportive network of family and friends to call on when they need to.

They will also need to consider arrangements in the event that single applicants become ill or unable to look after the child after becoming a foster carer.

If you have children

If you have children with a previous partner, all your children (or adult children if they are grown up) will need to be interviewed as part of the fostering assessment process and there will be a discussion with you about your ongoing involvement in their lives.

It is our practice to make contact with all relevant previous partners whenever applicants have parented together, or:

  • if you have been involved in a previous partnership regarded as of significance (i.e. which lasted for over a year and/or was a live-in arrangement, whether the care of children was included or not)
  • if you have children with a previous partner or have cared for children within a previous partnership

The previous partner will be asked if they are aware of any cause for concern, about each applicant caring for a child or whether they have known them to be violent, abusive or negative.

It is appreciated that this is a sensitive matter which may raise issues of concern, but we are interested in establishing applicant's ability to parent. We understand that some relationships do not end amicably and will take this into consideration.

An applicant’s outright refusal for us to contact ex-partners may have an impact on whether we can progress or not with your application. Please discuss concerns with us as early as possible if this affects you or causes you anxiety. However, in all but the most unusual circumstances we will expect to speak to ex-partners.

Accommodation

It is important to have a spare bedroom to accommodate a foster child. If you live in rented accommodation, we are required to check your tenancy agreement and have a letter from the landlord showing that they are supportive of the tenants fostering.

Health

You will need to be in good health and are able to manage the physical and emotional demands of caring for children.

Having a specific disability or medical condition will not necessarily prevent you from fostering. We will take advice from your doctor and the local authority Medical Advisor on your health and the possible implications for fostering. See information about the assessment process below.

Smoking

Where someone in the household smokes cigarettes or e-cigarettes we would not place children under the age of 5 years.

Employment

Foster carers need to be available to care for children to meet their needs including taking them to school if necessary, attending meetings and other appointments as necessary.

Carers also need to be available during school holidays to care for a foster child.

Having a job does not necessarily prevent people from being considered for fostering. Applications from those who work from home, are self-employed or have flexible working arrangements will also be considered. There are various foster care schemes that may be suitable for applicants' circumstances.