Children and young people need foster carers from all backgrounds with a wide range of life, work and care experiences. All foster carers are given ongoing training and support to help them develop the skills they need to help children thrive.
Just as no two children are the same, foster carers need to come from a variety of backgrounds and have different life experiences, skills and qualities to help meet the needs of children and young people in foster care. What’s important is that you can support, nurture and care for children who cannot live with their birth families.
Can anyone be a foster carer?
In general, you can apply to be a foster carer if you:
- are at least 18 years old (although most fostering services will want you to be 21)
- have a spare bedroom big enough for a child or young person to live in
- are living in the UK, in your own home or with a secure rental agreement
- are willing and able to care for a child or young person, often on a full-time basis.
If you don’t meet all of these criteria, have an open conversation with the fostering service you would like to join. There are lots of factors that fostering services will think about to help them decide who can provide the best care for a child.
What else should I think about?
Most fostering services will want to know more about you. You might be asked questions about:
- Your health – are you fit and well enough to foster a child now? Do you have any health problems that might make fostering more difficult in the future?
- Your financial security – can you afford to be a foster carer?
- Your home – is your house safe and suitable for a child or young person to live in?
- Your friends and family – who are the people who can support you while you foster?
- Your past – have you lived abroad, or do you have a criminal record?
- Your experience with children and young people – have you looked after children before, through family, work, or volunteering?
You will also be asked about your reasons for wanting to become a foster carer. For example:
- Why do you want to work with children and young people?
- Can you support them, nurture them, communicate with them, advocate on their behalf and include them as part of your family? Will you work as part of a team and take part in training and learning to develop your skills.
Did you know?
People often think they can’t foster because of fostering myths like, ‘I can’t foster if I’m single’, ‘I can’t foster if I’m gay’, or ‘I can’t foster if I don’t have my own children’. But these things are not important and will not stop you from fostering.