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Can I Foster?

What are the requirements to be a Foster Carer?

What do you need to be a foster carer?

You can foster a child regardless of your marital status, religion, race, gender or sexuality.

You can foster a child as a home owner, renting or living with parents.

Minimum requirements to foster a child

  • You must have a spare room
  • You must be 21 or older

There is no such thing as a stereotypical foster carer.

Our carer community is diverse and we welcome new people to our fostering network regardless of their marital status, gender, race or sexual orientation.

Lisa, our team manager

We're here to help

My name is Lisa and I'm the Fostering Manager at Perpetual Fostering. My team and I are here to help with any questions you might have about fostering a child. Please keep reading and give me a call or drop me an email at any time if you have any questions.

I Look forward to speaking with you!

Lisa

01204 364 666 / [email protected]

The truth is there is much that goes into meeting the requirements for fostering. Here’s an in-depth look into what it takes and how to go about starting your journey towards foster parenting.

Foster Child Spare Room

1. A Spare Room

First and foremost, you will need a spare room in your house or your flat that can accommodate a foster child or a young person. No foster agency in its right mind would ever allow a child under its charge to live with a new foster family that doesn’t have adequate space in their home for an additional member, so if you do wish to foster you’ll need to ensure you’ve got a dedicated bedroom ready and waiting.

Healthy family

2. Healthy

Becoming a foster carer requires you to be in relatively good health, both physically and financially.

This only makes sense, as it's difficult to care for any child unless you are healthy enough to take on the responsibilities of child care yourself.

In order to determine this, you may be required to receive a successful health check from your GP. You’ll also have to show evidence of never having declared bankruptcy.

As it’s not uncommon for foster children to have specialised medical needs themselves, making sure you as a foster carer are physically and financially capable is even more important — even though you will be provided with weekly allowances for every child you foster.

Referral Letter

3. Referrals

Additionally, many foster agencies make it an important point to review a number of references as a technical requirement for becoming a foster parent. The most relevant references will come from former partners that you helped raise children with and adult children of your own that have since moved out, but other relatives, colleagues, or even long-time friends are appropriate references.

Skills To Foster

4. Training

Foster agencies provide skills training during this time as well. This consists of an intensive “Skills to Foster Training” seminar delivered over a 2-3 day span, most often scheduled for over a weekend, delivered in-house by a foster agency to applicants in the assessment process.

BAAF Assessment

5. BAAF Fostering Assessment

An additional requirement, one that takes the most time to satisfy, is to endure a period of fostering assessment by a social worker as required by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). Such a Fostering Assessment is a long-term endeavour, one that can take between four and six months. Once the social worker completes their assessment, it is presented to an independent Fostering Panel for a final review and approval recommendation.

DBS Logo

6. DBS Checks

Next, you will need to become certified by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). You’ll need an Enhanced Disclosure from the DBS, as will anyone living in your home over the age of 16. If this seems excessive, remember that a DBS disclosure is required of anyone who works with children in the UK. That includes anyone who works at a creche, a nursery, or a school. Becoming a foster carer is still a job, after all, perhaps the most important one of the bunch.

Perpetual Fostering Office

7. Review & Final Approval

The final step is completed by a Fostering Panel. You’ll meet with the panel in order to answer any final questions these members may have concerning your application.

It’s the job of a panel to be thorough, but it’s not as if you’re standing trial — panelists know what a tough job it is to be a foster carer, and they want what’s best for not just a foster child but for you as well. Think of it as less of a grueling ordeal but instead one last time to showcase all of your positive attributes, such as compassion and patience, that will enable you to be an outstanding foster carer. If the panel agrees, you’ll be given its final recommendation to proceed.

At this point, it’s up to the Agency Decision Maker, who receives the panel’s recommendation, to make the final decision in favour of your foster carer status.

Summary of the technical requirements of becoming a foster carer:

You must:

Make An Enquiry

The Preparation Process

The foster care process involves more preparation than just getting your paperwork sorted and cleaning up your spare bedroom in anticipation of a long-term guest.

You’ll also need to ensure you're prepared to take on the awesome responsibility of fostering a child or young person on their journey to adulthood. This process can be self-guided, but many foster agencies provide intensive skill seminars to help you on your way.

This process begins shortly after you ask yourself “can I foster” and involves meeting with a social worker.

Conducted either over the phone or in person, this chat allows you to get any questions you may have about the foster care process at the very beginning before moving on to more substantial preparations.

Once you’re satisfied with your initial answers (and after you satisfy the technical requirements discussed above), you can then move onto the skills preparation portion.

Since the final selection process does take several months, you’ll have a number of opportunities for skills education. Foster agencies typically offer intensive courses that you can participate in during this waiting period; these courses take place over the course of several days and will offer you the opportunity to attend group sessions, led by experienced social workers. These sessions typically consist of in-depth, directed discussions about a number of different topics related to becoming a foster carer, including:

Fostering a child happy family lying down

What You Can Expect Upon Selection

With standards set high in order to protect the interests of children and young people in need of being fostered, not everyone who asks themselves “can I foster” and then applies to become a foster carer becomes one. However, if you are selected to become a foster parent there are a number of things, both initially and ongoing, that you can expect to happen.

First and foremost, it’s time to learn that you don’t have to go it alone in your journey to becoming a foster parent. In fact, when you partner with a foster agency to become a foster carer you gain access to an impressive raft of support structures, such as the following:

What Do Foster Carers Get Paid?

It takes more than compassion and dedication to raise a child. It doesn't matter if it's a foster child or not — any parent will tell you that there are certain financial requirements as well. The costs associated with the care and feeding of a child or young person range from clothing and school supplies to simply giving them with the ability to enjoy their lives by providing them with toys and other entertainment options.

That's why foster agencies ensure that those that take on the heavy responsibility of fostering a child receive compensation in order to support his or her mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.

This compensation can and does vary according to a number of different factors, many of which are set in place by the government, with the most notable being a weekly allowance that foster carers are entitled to for doing the crucial work of providing a safe, secure, and nurturing home for a young person or child.

download our guide

Download our Free Fostering Pay Guide

Discover what you can get paid for Fostering and what benefits you can claim through the process. Simply complete the following form and you'll be able to download the guide immediately.

Each new approved application to join us will receive up to a £250 bonus

Please be aware that these figures can and do change all the time, as the government reviews minimum allowances every April. If you’re looking for more specific information on how much do foster parents get paid, you can visit the government’s foster carers resource page, which provides a complete breakdown for the current financial year.

More than Minimum Allowances

Minimum weekly allowances can and do help provide foster carers with the necessary financial resources to ensure the needs of any children or young people in their care are met. However, as the name implies, these are minimum allowances. A foster agency will typically pay more than this minimum, though; Perpetual Fostering, for example, pays between £300 and £650 per child fostered. How foster agencies determine the total weekly pay you receive as a foster carer are through evaluating a number of specific circumstances, though again these circumstances are largely dependent on things such as:

In these cases, the additional amount a foster carer can earn per week will increase. Again there is little specificity as to how much does a foster carer get paid, so if you are selected to foster a child the final amount will be determined on an individual basis.
Family playing in the park

Other Benefits to Becoming a Foster Parent

In addition to receiving a weekly allowance for serving as a foster carer, there are some other benefits you’ll be awarded as well. One of these is the fact that a portion of your earnings from becoming a foster carer will be tax-free. This takes two forms: an annual fixed tax exemption as well as additional variable tax relief, conditional on how many weeks of the year you provide services for a foster child in your care.

The first form, the annual tax exemption, is fixed at £10,000 per year. It’s important to note that this exemption is shared across the entire household, regardless of the number of carers under the same roof; a single foster carer, for example, would receive the entirety of it, while two carers would have to share the exemption.  Additionally, if you do not serve as a foster carer for the entire year, this exemption may be reduced a commensurate amount.

The second type of tax relief comes in the form of an amount that you can add to your fixed £10,000 exemption. This accrues for every week you serve as a foster carer and is either £200 per child under the age of 11 or £250 per child over the age of 11. This adds up to an additional £10,400 to £13,000 in tax relief depending on age of foster child and whether you serve as a foster carer for the entire 52 weeks of the year.

A final note on tax relief: these fixed and variable exemptions are in addition to your tax-free personal allowance. While you can’t apply your standard £11,850 allowance for the 2018-2019 financial year to your foster carer tax exemption, you can apply that personal allowance to any income you make from a different source. This is extremely helpful for foster carers who also have an additional job or career outside of providing care for foster children.

"With Perpetual Fostering we felt part of the community from the outset. It was never them and us, but we were together as a team. From my experience, that is a big thing. If ever there is an issue, we can pick up the phone and they will be there and they will be helpful."

– Mike, Foster Carer

The Answer to “Can I Foster?”

At this point, most of the answers to the question of “can I foster” should be well answered. You’ve learnt about the application process, the amount of time it takes to have your application considered, and what types of requirements you need to satisfy in order to be eligible for becoming a foster parent. You’ve also learnt what types of opportunities you’ll have to hone some very important skills during the application process in order to prepare you for the eventuality that you will be selected, answering that question of “can I foster” with a resounding “yes”!

Beyond that, however, you’ve learnt what kind of support systems you’ll have available to you in the event you are chosen to become a foster carer. You'll have access to a dedicated social worker to answer your questions and to work with you on personal skills development, a mentor buddy and a larger network of fellow carers to rely on for experienced advice, and advanced support in emergencies and other unique situations. You’ll also gain access to respite services as well when you simply need an extra bit of self-care.

Finally, you’ve learnt all about the compensation and other benefits of becoming a foster carer. These include a minimum weekly allowance per child fostered, additional compensation for special circumstances or if you possess special skills, and even tax relief for doing the hard work of providing the kind of dedicated, compassionate help needed to prepare a foster child for adulthood.

You may still have unanswered questions. That’s only natural — becoming a foster carer is a major endeavour, one that you shouldn’t undertake without some serious contemplation. A qualified social worker can aid you in answering these remaining questions, which will help you decide not just “can I foster” but “should I foster”. If you’re dedicated, compassionate, patient, and committed to provide one or more children with the support they need to succeed, then that answer may very well be yes.

We firmly believe that everyone has the ability to make a positive contribution to the lives of children and young people in foster care. When assessing the qualities of foster carers against foster care requirements, we don’t base our decision on the level of experience, we instead look for attributes such as enthusiasm, patience and resilience.

Most importantly, when considering who can foster, we look for foster carers who are able to provide a stable and secure environment.

If you think you might be that person but still have a few doubts, why not send us a quick message and start a conversation. Just ask us anything, we’ll be here to support you every step of the way.

We are Perpetual Fostering

We're an independent fostering agency based in Bolton. We cover the whole of the North West and West Midlands.

We have supported more than 1,000 carers and children over more than 20 years.

We're committed to supporting the children we place and helping them fulfil their potential.

Our foster families and children build such successful relationships because we meet everyone's emotional and professional needs.

Perpetual Fostering Partners

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