There is no one type of person that makes a good foster carer. Just as every child in care is different, so every foster carer brings different life experiences and backgrounds, different viewpoints and different skills to the care and support they provide.
You don't need special qualifications or previous experience as long as you are willing to learn and participate in training. However, it will help to have a positive outlook, patience, tolerance and dedication, motivation, energy and a good sense of humour plus the confidence to cope with a variety of situations.
Fostering is both challenging and rewarding and we will work closely with you to be sure that fostering is right for you. We will explore what you will bring to foster care and, hopefully, match you with a child or children who will gain the most from your care.
There are some basic criteria to fulfilling this role successfully.
It’s essential that:
- you like children and young people and enjoy their company
- you can work effectively alongside other people in the child’s life
- you don’t have a police record for violence or offences against children
- you can understand or are prepared to learn, how children behave when they’ve been emotionally or physically hurt
- you’re willing to attend training courses and support groups
- you have a spare room in your home for a child or children.
You can foster:
- Whether you are single or a couple and do not need to be married.
- You can be heterosexual or gay
- Whether you’ve a disability or medical condition (as long as it’s stable and doesn’t affect your ability to care for a child
- Whether you’ve children of your own or not
- Whether you work – we have a variety of schemes to suit a wide range of circumstances
- Whether you’re retired
- Whether your own childhood was difficult, as long as you’ve learnt from the experiences
- Whatever your ethnic background. We need carers from all different cultures in order to match children and young people with suitable families.
It does not matter whether you own or rent your home. It is important that you are settled and are not likely to have to move at short notice.
- If you live in a council, privately rented or housing association home, we are required to check your tenancy agreement
- Homes need to be spacious enough to comfortably accommodate everyone including your foster children
- Any child placed with you would need to have a bedroom of their own. In some circumstances foster children may share a room if they are siblings of the same gender or are under 3 years
Experience with children
Having children of your own can provide important experience. Childcare experience gained through work or voluntary settings is also relevant.
But it is not essential you have children. Life experiences, personal qualities and potential to safely care for children are all important.
You will receive ongoing support and training to help you care for your foster children.
You do need to be physically and mentally fit. You will need to have a medical with your GP (which we pay for).
If you have a disability or a medical condition, we will take advice from your doctor and our Medical Adviser on your health and possible implications for fostering.
There are no age limits for fostering. You need to be mature enough to work with the complex problems that children needing fostering may have.
To foster children under 12, you need to be 21 years or over.
To care for teenagers, you need to be at least 25 years.
If you are over 65 years, as long as you are fit and healthy you can be considered for foster caring.
You need to be available to care for children, including taking them to school, attending meetings and other appointments.
For younger children who are under school age, you need to be fully committed to fostering and a carer needs to be available all the time.
For those aged 5 – 18 years, you can work part time but you need to be flexible to allow you to respond to the child’s needs and be able to act in an emergency.
You will need to be available during school holidays as it is important that alternative care arrangements are not made for foster children on a regular basis. Having a job will not necessarily stop you from fostering.
Call us to find out how foster care can fit into your life.