Frequently Asked Questions

Before taking the plunge into becoming a foster carer, every ‘prospective carer’ has their own set of questions, most would be fairly general in nature whilst others may be more specific to their own individual/family circumstances.

The questions below are by no means a complete list of questions. They do however, represent the most commonly asked questions and therefore TPP hope they will enable you to form a decision on your next step towards becoming a foster carer.

If you still have significant questions you wish to seek answers to, then TPP would encourage you to contact any of the Fostering Agencies registered on this site. A search tool to find a Fostering Agency, which is local to yourself, can be found on the TPP home page.

  • Where can I find information about fostering agencies that are local to me?

    On TPP's home page enter the 4 digits of your postcode to find those agencies recruiting and operating in your area

  • Should I Foster?

    Only you know the answer to this question, however, Fostering is a big decision for anyone to make and not one that should be taken without careful thought and consideration. Becoming a foster carer can be one of the most rewarding, life enriching events you and your family will ever experience. Your fostering will touch the whole of your community; the people close to you will be most affected, as well as being your strongest source of support.

  • Am I eligible to foster a child?

    Foster carers come from a range of backgrounds and include people who are; male, female, single, married, cohabiting, divorced, gay, lesbian and heterosexual, follow different religions, all nationalities, have varying levels of income and whilst some own their homes, others rent. In addition, others may have a criminal record for non-violent offences or cautions in the past. If you are still in any doubt you can always contact an agency who will answer your question with sensitivity and confidentiality.

  • What is involved with being a foster carer?

    Impossible to give a definitive answer. However, there are, in short, 2 parts to being a foster carer;

    • Fulfilling Regulatory requirements - There are National Minimum Standards which you would have to meet (and continue to meet)) together with each Agencies individual policy requirements around your training and development, your attendance at support groups, supervision and ability to work as a team member with the Agency’s representatives.
    • Caring - provide a safe, secure and caring home for a child/children who are unable to live with their birth parents, understanding that children come into care for a variety of reasons, such as family breakdown, parental illness, neglect or abuse and work to the child’s care plan.
  • What checks are undertaken?

    The following are checks which are universally undertaken by all Agencies. Your own personal circumstances may add to the checks to be undertaken.

    • All members of your household over the age of 18 will be required to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously known as CRB check).
    • The Agency will also contact every local authority in regions where you have lived for the past ten years, the NSPCC and will also contact every employer where you have worked with children including all volunteer posts for a written reference.
    • You will have a medical examination by your GP to confirm you are fit and well enough to look after foster children.
    • You will provide to the Agency a number of referees, including your current or last employer and the Agency will also contact them.
    • The Agency will also carry out an assessment on your current financial position and a health and safety check on your home
    • Where you and an ex-partner have parented children together the Agency may seek a reference from them.

    The assessment is undertaken by a qualified and experienced social worker

    The assessor will also look at the different types of fostering and age groups with you, to help you to decide what would be suitable for your family. 

    Your completed assessment is then presented to an Independent Fostering Panel who will consider your assessment and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) as to your suitability to be a foster carer. You will have the opportunity to meet the Fostering Panel.

  • I am intending to be the main foster carer so do you need to carry out checks on my partner?

    Yes, the Agency will need to carry out checks on your partner and would expect you both to participate in the assessment process and training.

  • How long is the application process?

    If there is something such as a 'typical application to foster' you could expect the process to be between 3 and 5 months before your application is presented to an independent fostering panel. Because each application is unique the length of time of an assessment will vary. Fostering regulations state that Fostering Agencies should take no longer than 8 months.

  • I have heard there are different types of fostering, what does this mean?

    When you are approved by the Agency’s Decision Maker (who has been informed of the Independent Panel’s recommendation) the terms of your approval will be stated and will include some of the following;

    Your initial assessment report typically focusses on your ability to be suitable to act as a foster carer for the following terms;

    • Emergency
    • Respite (could be included under short term)
    • Bridging
    • Short term
    • Long Term

    Additional reports may be requested for approval for;

    • Parent and Child
    • Permanency
    • Children with disabilities
    • Remand

    In all situations, your suitability to foster will state the

    • Number of children you can foster
    • Sex – single sex or either
    • Age range – between 0-17 (if you smoke/vape then its 5-17)
    • Your preference – you will have the opportunity to state your preference e.g. 6-13 either sex, 12-17 males only etc.

    As you develop as a foster carer your skills and experience invariably have an impact on your terms of approval and preference so the terms of your initial approval can be looked at periodically and changed if applicable.

  • Can I look after more than one child?

    Yes. You can only be approved for a maximum of 3 unrelated children but if your experience and home environment were to be suitable you could look after more than 3 if they were a sibling group. Some foster carers have cared for sibling groups of 7+!

  • Can I foster if I have dogs or other animals?

    Yes, all pets within the household must be assessed as part of your fostering application as each animal is different in terms of their behaviour and temperament. As Foster Carers do live in a variety of accommodation from flats to farms an over friendly hamster may not prove too much of a challenge but that boisterous 'stroke me now' dog or stubborn donkey may.

    For a child or young person in foster care, pets can be a valuable support to their emotional wellbeing, trust and confidence and Agencies will need to make sure there is no risk either from your pet to a child or the other way around.

  • Will I get paid a fee for fostering a child?

    Yes. The amount will vary from Agency to Agency and is paid as a weekly allowance. The variation in fees occur as a result of these main features;

    • The level of personal need the young person requires e.g. disabilities and additional learning needs
    • The number of young people you are fostering
    • The varying degrees of care costs - to cover living costs such as food, clothes, basic travel and household bills

    Most Agencies can offer you advice with regards to the significant tax relief benefits which currently exist for foster carers. 

  • Before a child is placed with me, what details will I know about the child and the situation with parents?

    Sometimes very little as it is possible that the child (or children) is placed with you at 2am in an emergency situation – under these circumstances details would follow. However, in a planned placement you should be made aware of details which have an impact on safeguarding the child whilst in your care and any information which may have an impact on your ability in providing safe care. More details will emerge via meetings and communications with your Agency Supervising Social Worker. All children will have a care plan which will contain relevant details and plan for their future care needs. 

  • Do I have a say in a child that is to be placed with me?

    Yes, and always yes. You should never be forced to take a child whose needs you assess to be beyond your (family) circumstances.

  • Can I have a break from fostering?

    Yes, Agencies realise that whilst fostering is exceptionally rewarding, foster carers may require the opportunity for a break and therefore build in an annual paid holiday allowance which can be taken free from the fostering task. Whilst this is provided by all Agencies not all Agencies insist on these being taken without the foster children as there are a significant number of carers who wish their foster child to be with them on their annual holiday.