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Who can foster?

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Children who need care come from all communities and backgrounds in our diverse county. We positively welcome foster carers who do too.

Having some experience of looking after or working with children is essential, but all kinds of people can become foster carers.

What is most important is that you:

  • Can provide a safe and stable home life
  • Have empathy and patience
  • Are committed to help children who need care to have happy and fulfilling lives

The practicalities

You don't need any formal qualifications but you do need to have experience of looking after or working with children. This can be through being a parent yourself or through paid or voluntary work.

We welcome applications from adults who are:

  • Married, single or living with a partner, regardless of gender
  • Male, female or transgender
  • From any race, religion or culture
  • Disabled or non-disabled

Who cannot foster

Fostering Regulations and Guidance 2011

The Fostering Regulations and Guidance 2011 clearly state:

'Some people will automatically be barred from becoming a foster carer because either they or an adult member of their household have been cautioned for, or convicted of, certain offences committed at or above the age of 18.'

No one has the right to become a foster carer and decisions must always focus on the interests of the child. The regulations were amended in 2013 to require a two-stage approach to the fostering assessment. 

If someone who is interested in becoming a foster carer does not fulfil the recruitment criteria of the service they approach, the service may decline to undertake an assessment of their suitability.  This might be, for instance, because of where they live, or age of child they would be able to foster, or some other factors. Otherwise the service should proceed to stage 1 of the assessment process. 


Your enquiry is unlikely to be considered if:

  1. An enquirer's own children have been 'looked after' by a local authority, or been the subject of child protection concerns
  2. There has been a significant bereavement within the last year
  3. There are children in the household under two-years-old, or there are a significant number of dependent children in the household. Exception's to the above might be if:
    • There are good support networks
    • Enquirers show a good understanding of their own children's individual needs and their ability to continue to meet these alongside fostering
    • Enquirers have a high level of physical availability
  4. There has been a significant health concern within the last year
  5. The enquirers hold restrictive or discriminatory beliefs, which would affect their ability to care for children
  6. They are a household with a transient resident population, ie a guest house, or those who take students (although if there is a separate entrance this may be considered)


Enquiries are highly unlikely to be considered if:

  1. An enquirer's own children have been compulsorily removed, or they have been considered as unsuitable guardians in private law proceedings
  2. Any member of the household has convictions or cautions against children or vulnerable adults, or other serious convictions or cautions (see regulation 26, sch 4, National Minimum Standards 2011)
  3. If anyone in the enquirer's household smokes (for children under 5-years-old)
  4. They are experiencing significant financial problems
  5. An applicant or anyone in the household has a severe health condition, which would impact on their capacity to care for children
  6. An applicant or anyone in the household is known to misuse drugs or alcohol
  7. Enquirers are planning to have their own birth children or adopt children in the foreseeable future or are undergoing fertility treatment


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