Fostering FAQs & Glossary

Glossary of terms

Our glossary of terms includes a list of frequently used terms to familiarise yourself with.

How long does the assessment take?

The assessment can take up to and sometimes more than six months. Most people could be approved Foster Carers within nine months from their first enquiry.

Why does it take so long?

Becoming a Foster Carer involves a detailed and in-depth assessment to see if fostering is right for you. We need to carry out background checks to assess whether children would be safe in your care. We also want to get to know you and prepare you for your new role, because we want fostering to be successful and rewarding for you, your family and the children in your care.

Can I choose what age of child I foster?

You can state a preference as to which age child will fit into your family, however we ask that this is as broad as possible between 0 and 18 years. You can request to change this range or gender if your circumstances change.

What kind of children need to be fostered?

Children who need fostering are all very different. Some may come from an abusive background, their parents may have struggled to care for them or keep them safe. Some families don’t have a support network in times of need or ill health, and the child may need to be looked after while problems are resolved or health is improved.

What happens when the child turns 18?

Many young people in foster care are not ready to live on their own at 18. The Foster Carer can choose to take on a foster child after care (There is a Government scheme in place called ‘Staying Put’ which allows over 18s to opt to stay with Foster Carers. Planning for children post-18 begins well in advance. For the Staying Put Scheme, certain criteria must be met, such as continuity in education, vocational training, apprenticeships and further education.)

Can I/we foster a child from a different ethnic or religious background?

Our aim is to find loving foster families for every child in need of a happy future, even if there is not a perfect match. Ethnicity and religious beliefs are relevant however – and you must have an understanding of the challenges which could arise from fostering a child from a different background. We will help prepare you for this if it applies to you.

Do I get paid?

You will receive a fortnightly maintenance allowance to help pay for household bills.

Will the birth parents know where I live?

Parents will only be told where their children are living if it is deemed safe to do so. As a general rule, we do not give out Foster Carers’ addresses to families of children in care.

Can I foster having no children of my own and no parenting experience?

That doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t foster. Yes, it’s true that experience of caring for children is an advantage – but all parents have to learn from experience and it’s no different for foster carers. What matters most is that you are caring and understanding, and possess the ability and desire to develop the skills you will need to help a child grow.

I am disabled so will I not be allowed to foster?

Being disabled does not automatically exclude anyone from becoming a foster carer and it is widely recognised that disabled people can often provide a very loving home for a child. Disability is only one of the many issues that will be considered when we assess your suitability as a foster carer – so don’t rule yourself out before you have had a conversation with us.

Do I have to own my house to foster?

It doesn’t matter to us whether you own your own home or are a tenant in rented accommodation. All we need to know is that you can provide a safe and stable environment for a child.

I’m single. Can I still foster?

Marital status is not a barrier to becoming a foster carer – so it does not matter whether carers are single, married, divorced or co-habiting.

I’m L.G.B.T. Can I foster?

Sexual orientation and gender identity has no bearing on a person’s ability to provide a loving home for a child, so it’s not a barrier to becoming a foster carer.

Will not being able to drive mean I can’t foster?

It is really important that you can meet all of the needs of a child – and this will include transporting them to school, meetings with social workers, and the many other daily and weekly routines involved in family life. Not having a driving licence doesn’t necessarily prevent you from fostering, but we will ask you to demonstrate that you are able to arrange transport and meet the needs of a particular child.

Interested in becoming a Foster Carer?