Who can foster?
We need carers from all walks of life and with a range of backgrounds. There is no such thing as a typical carer. Most importantly we need foster carers to offer genuine commitment to children and to have lots of energy, understanding and patience. If you are compassionate, empathic, warm and nurturing, enjoy being around children, and are looking for a new challenge then fostering might be right for you.
Being removed from home is a traumatic experience for a child, and we need carers who can work with a child’s social worker to help the child understand what is happening to them. As a foster carer you need to enable children to feel safe and secure. You need to be emotionally strong and resilient and a sense of humour is important.
You don’t need any formal qualifications but you do need to have experience of looking after or working with children, either through being a parent yourself or through paid or voluntary work.
We welcome applications from adults who are:
- Over 21 (there is no upper age limit but you do need to be fit enough to meet the needs of the age group you are fostering)
- Married, single or living with a partner regardless of gender
- Male, female or transgender
- Have experience of looking after children
- From any race, religion or culture
- Disabled or non-disabled
- A home owner or living in rented accommodation (you must have a spare bedroom available at the time of enquiry and accommodation which is suitable, safe and welcoming)
- Able to use computers and communicate electronically
Who cannot foster?
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.
Enquiries are unlikely to be considered if:
- An enquirer's own children have been 'looked after' by a Local Authority or been the subject of child protection concerns
- There has been a significant bereavement within the last year
- There are children in the household under 2 years of age or there are a significant number of dependent children in the household
Exceptions 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
- There has been a significant health concern within the last year
- The enquirers hold restrictive or discriminatory beliefs which would affect their ability to care for children
- 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:
- An enquirer’s own children have been compulsorily removed or they have been considered as unsuitable guardians in private law proceedings
- 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)
- If anyone in the enquirer's household smokes (for children under 5 years of age)
- They are experiencing significant financial problems
- An applicant or anyone in the household has a severe health condition which would impact on their capacity to care for children
- An applicant or anyone in the household is known to misuse drugs or alcohol
- Enquirers are planning to have their own birth children or adopt children in the foreseeable future or are undergoing fertility treatment