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Everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer in the UK

Have you been considering fostering for a while but are unsure of exactly how to become a foster carer? We understand, there are many myths and misinformation surrounding fostering and we have written this blog post to share some facts. We are a growing independent fostering agency in the West Midlands and we are looking for more caring and committed people to join our team. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer and joining our agency.

What types of fostering are there?

Foster care comes in many different forms. Depending on what type of placement a child needs, you may be fostering for a short period in an emergency or crisis or you could be caring for the same child for many years. Some foster carers are only approved to care for children of a certain age, others may only have space for one child while there are foster carers who look after several children at a time. There is not just one type of foster care, just as there is not just one type of foster carer.

Here is a list of the different types of foster care:

Emergency

Short term

Respite

Long term

Parent and child

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children

Each type of placement will be different but you can discuss which placements will work best for you during the assessment process. There may only be short notice given before an emergency placement but a child will never just appear on your doorstep without you accepting the placement first. To learn more about the different types of foster, please visit our Types Of Foster Care webpage.

What qualifies you for being a foster carer?

To foster a child in the UK you need to meet several requirements. Whilst you do not need to have a social work or childcare qualification, you will need to possess certain skills and be able to offer a safe and nurturing environment for children in need.

To foster for a local authority or an independent fostering agency, you will need to meet the following requirements:

A spare bedroom

You must be over 21 years of age

An ability to drive or have access to good public transport links

Some experience of looking after children

Commitment to training and personal development

How to become a foster carer in the UK?

If you meet all of the essential requirements for foster carers in the UK, that’s great news! You can now get in touch with our team for an informal chat, we can then arrange your initial home visit to get to know each other. If after the visit with one of our social workers you are still interested in fostering, we can then begin the application and assessment process.

Here is a brief look at the process to becoming a foster carer in the UK, for more information you can read our detailed blog post here or call our team. We are always happy to answer questions and here to offer our expert knowledge and advice. Let’s take a look at the steps to becoming a foster carer:

  • Research fostering – is this the right path for you and your current circumstances? Do you meet the essential requirements? If the answer is yes, it’s time to start your fostering journey.
  • Call our team on 0800 524 4797 to express your interest & make an initial enquiry.
  • Have an initial home visit with one of our social workers
  • Fill in an application form.
  • If your application is accepted, we move to stage 1 of the assessment process which is the statutory checking process and you will be invited to attend the pre-approval training course.
  • If appropriate we then move to stage 2 of the assessment process which is a series of home study appointments to gather the information needed to make an informed recommendation on suitability to begin fostering.
  • The completed assessment is shared with you and presented to the fostering panel which you will attend alongside your assessing Social Worker.
  • Once you have been successfully approved as a foster carer with our agency, you will be matched with children in need of foster care.

This is just an outline of the process to becoming a foster carer. Remember, our team will be with you every step of the way and if you realise fostering is not for you after all, you can stop the process at any time.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

The fostering application and assessment process from start to finish will usually take around 6 months. In some circumstances, the process is shorter and on occasion, it can take longer depending on individual circumstances.

How much do foster carers get paid in the UK?

We understand that our foster carers need to make a living and deserve payment for their exceptionally hard work. Foster care is primarily about protecting children and ensuring they are happy, healthy and feel valued and cared for whilst living away from their birth family. However, fostering is also a career path and whilst some carers foster alongside other work, there are many people who choose to foster full time.

At Focus Foster Care we provide our carers with a generous and competitive salary. All of our foster carers are valued members of our team and their hard work is recognised and valued. If you like to know exactly how much foster carers get paid as part of the Focus Foster Care team, please get in touch with us and we can share this with you.

It is understandable for people to wonder if they will still get paid when they don’t have a child placed in their home. All of our foster carers are self employed and will only earn an income through fostering during the times they are looking after a child or young person.

FAQ – Becoming a foster carer in the UK?

Do you want to know even more about fostering in the UK? Here are the answers to some of our more frequently asked questions. If you still can’t find the answers you are looking for, please visit our separate FAQ page or get in touch with our team.

Can I foster if I have my own child?

Yes, you can foster if you have your own child. In fact, you can foster even if you have several children. Whether you have children at home or your children are now adults living elsewhere, you can still welcome a child into your home and provide them with excellent foster care. As an agency, we ask that you have the time, energy and flexibility in your daily life to give a child all of the support and love they need. This may be difficult if you have young children of your own but you can discuss your family circumstances with our team, before the assessment process begins.

Can you foster if you work full time?

It is possible to foster alongside other employment. However, fostering is a huge commitment and you may find it difficult to meet all of your work needs and the needs of the children in your care. Looking after children in care is different to looking after your own children. In addition to taking a child to school and collecting them at the end of the day, often you will need to be driving the children to appointments, visits with their birth families and you may have lots of meetings you need to attend. Depending on the child’s needs, you may be able to continue to work full time. However, this can all be discussed in detail during your initial home visit with one of our social workers.

Can a single person foster?

Yes, you can foster if you are single. You do not need to be married or in a relationship to be a successful foster carer.

Can I foster if I am LGBTQ+?

Yes, we welcome all members of the LGBTQ+ community to enquire into joining our team of foster carers. Whatever, your sexuality or gender, if you want to foster we would like to hear from you. You can read more about this in our blog post – Welcoming LGBT+ people to join our fostering agency.

Want to know more?

Are you ready to start your fostering journey? If you want to become a foster carer, don’t hesitate to contact our West Midlands independent fostering agency. We can be contacted on 0800 524 4797 or you can send an email to admin@focusfostercare.com. If you want to do a little more research first, our blog is bursting with information. Read our Meet The Team series to get to know all of the team here at Focus Foster Care. We also have several interviews with foster carers old and new, full of real-life insights into life as a foster carer. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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