Researching fostering is a big task! With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some Frequently Asked Questions to make life easier for you.
Just click the questions for the answers…
1. What is Foster Care?
Foster care is where you provide care and support to a child or young person within your own home. There are various types of foster care, including respite, short-term, long-term, emergency and parent and child fostering. You can discuss each of these at length with us and come to a decision as to the types of care you wish to offer.
2. What is the difference between fostering with Family Care and other organisations?
Family Care is a family owned, independent organisation that is big enough to offer you a high level of support and training yet small enough to give you the personal touch that some larger organisations struggle to deliver. Therapeutic professionals are integrated into our teams to ensure we’re supporting you in the best way we can and that we’re giving you the strategies to succeed with the young people you care for.
3. If I’m already fostering, can I transfer to Family Care?
Yes, all foster carers have the right to transfer and you may be able to transfer to us if we cover your area. If you are, for any reason, unhappy with your current foster care agency you are quite within your rights to transfer to another organisation.
If you would like further information on how to transfer, please call us on 0800 5 677 677 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion about your options and how Family Care may be able to help.
4. I rent my property, can I still be a foster carer?
Yes. Your social worker will discuss this and your other financial arrangements with you. It is important that you are well organised and are able to provide stability for a child.
5. Do I need a spare room to foster?
Yes, you do and this bedroom will form part of your assessment. Looked After Children cannot share a bedroom with your own children.
6. I have small children, can I still foster?
Yes, you can although this will make it slightly harder for us to match children to you. It is important that the needs of all children, both your own children and those that are fostered, are met. Your social worker will discuss this with you during the assessment.
7. Will I receive training before I become a foster carer?
Yes, as well as the assessment, it is important that you are fully aware of your role as a foster carer. This ‘Skills to Foster’ training takes place during your assessment and provides you with an opportunity to explore the role of a foster carer more in-depth and ensure that fostering is right for you. It is important that this course is attended in full by all applicants wishing to become a foster carer.
8. How much will I receive as an allowance?
This can vary and depends upon the age and needs of the child. Typically, our foster carers receive £335 - £435 per week per child. This coupled with the support services, free training and therapeutic input we offer, that many other agencies don’t, makes Family Care a good all round choice for new and experienced foster carers.
9. Will I be employed or self-employed?
All foster carers in the UK are self-employed and any earnings from fostering must be declared in line with HMRC guidance.
10. Do I have to pay Tax and NI on my allowance?
It’s very unlikely that you will need to pay much tax on your fostering allowances each year given income from fostering is partially tax exempt in the UK. However, those considering fostering in the UK should seek advice and be aware of the current thresholds. Family Care and its partner organisations are on hand to help and give advice. Details on HMRC guidance to foster carers can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foster-carers/help-with-the-cost-of-fostering
11. How much choice will I be given about placements?
During the assessment, your social worker will discuss with you the type of placements that will be right for you and your family. You will be given choices of placements and it is really important that you are sure that you can meet the needs of a particular child. If in doubt, say so.
12. Will my partner need to be checked and attend training?
Yes, if you are in a relationship, it is really important that both you and your partner are fully committed to fostering. All adults who live in the home, or are regular visitors to the home will need to have the necessary checks to ensure the safety of any child that you foster.
13. How long does the assessment process take?
It takes 4 to 6 months from your initial enquiry to being approved as a foster carer. The more dedicated you are to providing the information we require to complete your assessment, the greater the chances of a speedy assessment.
14. Are there age restrictions on who can foster?
Foster carers must be at least 21 years of age to foster with us. There is no upper age limit providing you are fit, healthy and energetic enough to provide great care for children and keep them safe.
15. Can I foster if I work?
Family Care’s generous payments to foster carers make having a second job unnecessary. We usually require that the ‘main’ carer be available full-time or that their work is sufficiently flexible for them to be able to provide the highest standards of care at all times.
16. What checks are carried out as part of the assessment process?
We carry out the following checks:
- Local Authority checks
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (anyone over 16 in household)
- School/Health Visitor checks on birth children
- NSPCC checks
- References (employment, non-family, family, ex-partner (where necessary), birth children)
- Full Medical (undertaken by your GP)
- Risk assessment of your home including any pets
- Overseas checks (where necessary)
17. I have a criminal conviction – can I foster?
Having a criminal conviction doesn’t automatically mean you cannot foster. A lot will depend on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. What is of paramount importance is that you declare any convictions right from the start of your enquiry. Disclosure and Barring Service checks are undertaken as part of all fostering assessments in the UK.
18. Can anyone apply to foster?
We welcome applications from all people, irrespective of gender, relationship status, sexual orientation or race. You can apply to foster if:
- You are aged 21 or over
- You have a spare bedroom
- You are a British Citizen or have permanent leave to reside in the UK
19. What kind of support can I expect?
Fostering can be very challenging. Family Care has developed a reputation over many years for its high levels of support to foster carers. Your supervising social worker is primarily responsible for supporting you. However, you will also have access to someone who is available out of hours 24/7 to ensure you have support round the clock for any emergency situations. Family Care also operates some of the best support services on offer – we hold activities, excursions, summer camps, days out and much more which gives carers little bits of time back just when they need it.
20. Can I foster if I smoke?
Yes, but there are restrictions. You will still be able to foster but the welfare of the young person placed needs to be considered. At Family Care, we would not place a child under the age of 5 in a smoking household and we would discuss and agree arrangements with you for any children over 5.
21. Can I foster if I don’t drive?
It will be difficult although not impossible to foster if you do not drive or have a car. The reason for this is that the foster child placed with you would need to attend school and you would need to attend training and regular meetings at Family Care. You will need to satisfy your assessing social worker that you will be able to fulfill all tasks associated with being a foster carer. For example, sometimes the local public transport system will provide adequate means of transport.
22. Can I foster if I have a baby?
Having a baby brings many challenges into you and your family’s life. Whilst having a baby does not outright preclude you from fostering a child, your assessing social worker will need to be sure that you can meet the needs of both your own baby and any potential foster child.
23. Can I foster if I have debt or have been made bankrupt in the past?
Yes, but you will need to demonstrate your ability to manage your finances if you are approved as a foster carer. Your financial circumstances will be discussed during the assessment. As fostering allowances are only paid when you have a child in placement, it is really important that you can demonstrate that you are able to manage your finances without being able to rely on the fostering allowance.
24. Can I foster if I have pets?
Pets can provide a very therapeutic environment for children and young people. However, all pets within the home will also be assessed in terms of the risk that they may present. For example, all breeds of dog which are highlighted within the Dangerous Dogs Act will preclude you from becoming a foster carer.
25. Can foster carers receive child benefits?
The fostering allowance is for any children you foster. If you have children of your own living in the household, any child benefit you are entitled to should not be affected.
26. Can I foster if I take antidepressants/have depression/have had depression?
Fostering can be extremely demanding and challenging. Your assessing social worker will discuss your mental and physical health at the point of enquiry. All applicants will need to demonstrate and evidence a good standard of physical and mental health.
27. What is kinship care?
Kinship care means that relatives or friends look after children who cannot live with their parents. Kinship care can be a private arrangement or formalised through a legal order.