To be a foster carer in the UK you need to have a spare bedroom. Ideally you should also drive but this isn’t always needed.
A spare bedroom is pretty much the only ‘requirement’, an enquiry cannot progress anywhere if the applicant doesn’t have a spare room.
However, there are other factors to consider. Here we list 7 questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about fostering.
1) If applying with a partner, how long have you been together?
For those applying as a couple, you should be living together for at least 12-months. There are no rules on how long you must be in a relationship, but it’s reasonable to expect the relationship to be stable and committed so a few years should be the bare minimum.
2) What age-range will you consider?
Most children in care are aged 10-17 (over 60%). Consider that older children need support too, the demand for families willing to support teenagers is huge. And, they will probably spend most of their time in their bedroom listening to music!
3) Do you have time to look after a child?
Fostering is a big commitment. There are many carers with other jobs but they must be available to meet the needs of a young person. Looking after older children is usually easier alongside work commitments compared to younger children who require more time and attention.
4) If you are working, how will you take a child to/from school, attend meetings with multi-agency professionals and training?
This is why ideally you should drive and have access to a car. It’s easier if you’re fostering as a couple, but there is no guarantee that you will look after a child who attends the school around the corner. As a general rule, you should be prepared to transport children to/from school within a 10-mile radius.
5) Can you foster with a criminal record?
Criminal records do not necessarily stop you from becoming a foster carer, unless they are very serious crimes. Everyone has a past, what’s more important is what you can offer a young person.
6) How is your health?
Just because you have a disability or a health problem doesn’t mean you can’t foster. You will undergo a medical check as part of your assessment, but consider that fostering can be a challenging and sometimes stressful role. You should be well enough to cope with any stresses the role might bring. This means emotional health as well as physical.
7) What support do you have?
Family Care provide a lot of support to our families, but what about support outside of your fostering agency? This can be especially important if you are a single carer. A robust network of local support; whether it be friends, family or other foster carers, can make a massive difference.
Most of these are considerations, not requirements of fostering in the UK.
Each family is different, the only way of finding out if this is something you can do is by making an enquiry.
Healing Pasts | Building Futures