Can I foster? Yes, you can foster
We are looking for everyday people to do something incredible by providing a safe, stable, and caring home for a child. Could make a difference to the life of a local child in 2024?
There's no typical foster carer and our carers come from many different backgrounds. Your personal qualities and what you can offer to a child or young person are what matter to us.
We’re looking for people who are patient, flexible, understanding, determined and keen to learn. To be eligible to foster, you must:
- be over 21 by the end of your assessment process
- have a spare room, for the sole use of a child you look after, or plans to have one soon
- have lived in the UK for the last 6 months
- speak, read and write English fluently, or be willing to develop this
Whatever your race, gender, sexuality, living arrangements, age and employment status we want to hear from you.
Get in touch with us via our enquiry form or call us on 0300 123 6723.
Busting the myths
Many individuals or couples who could make great foster carers are sometimes put off by myths and pre-conceived ideas about eligibility.
Our foster carer Geraldine shares her story which highlights that age and being single are not barriers to fostering.
"I have been a foster carer since October 2018. At our church fair in 2017 there was a Fostering stand and I took a leaflet home with me. I considered the details for a while and realised that my age was not going to be a barrier to fostering a child. I had just retired, was fit and active and couldn't see any reason for not making an application. I started fostering when I was 71 years old.
"I am single and this also did not affect my application to foster. I expressed an interest with Lancashire County Council. The application process was straight forward and initially involved a home visit to discuss details further with me and check I had a bedroom free.
"Once my application was accepted I received training which was informative and enjoyable, some of the work I could do at home in my own time. Once I was approved I received on-going support from the fostering team. I am now 76 and have fostered seven children ranging from new born to 14 years old. I have enjoyed every single second and plan to continue to foster." Geraldine, foster carer.
The following information may help you understand whether are able to foster. If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with our fostering team.
You can foster
As long as you are over 21 and you have the time and energy to care for a child, there is no upper age limit to foster.
Whether you work full time, part time or are not in employment, we want to hear from you. Many of our foster carers work part time or flexibly so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.
If you work full-time, you must be available to take the child to school and be able to look after them during the school holidays.
If the child isn't old enough to be at school we'll need you to be available to look after the child full-time.
You’ll also need to be able to attend training sessions and some support groups as well as have the time to regularly meet with your social worker.
Some people consider fostering as an alternative to work. This can be possible, but you will need to consider your income between placements. This is because you will only receive an allowance when a child is living with you. To avoid gaps between placements our carers will need to be flexible about age or any additional needs of children.
It's ok to call us and talk about money with our team as we understand that it is an important consideration for you. We pay generous and competitive allowances and rewards to cover the costs of having a foster child living with you. See the benefits and support page for more information.
Many of our foster carers are retired and find it gives them the opportunity to dedicate more time to supporting their foster children.
We’re looking for people who are patient, flexible, understanding, determined and keen to learn.
You don't need any specific qualifications, but we will look for stability in your life so that we feel you are able to support a child and you have a genuine interest in supporting children.
It can help you if you have previous experience of looking after or you have worked with children. We provide a range of learning, development and training opportunities including the Skills to Foster course for all carers.
Lots of our foster carers already have their own children and know that they’ve done a good job raising them. They want to give other children this same good start in life. You’ll need to think about the difference that fostering will make to your own children and talk to them about it.
Many of our foster carers have found that fostering has been a really positive experience for the rest of the family.
Poppy is 16 and lives with foster carers who have teenage daughters. Read Poppy's story to find out more about her foster family.
It doesn't matter if you are living with a disability. We just need to know that you are generally healthy and have enough energy to keep up with a child.
We assess this through your GP. We will then consider any health issues or disabilities identified and how this might impact on your fostering role on a case by case basis.
We want to hear from people who are single, living together, married, divorced or separated, straight or gay. Your relationship and LGBT+ status will not be considered a deciding factor of whether you can foster or not.
If you are single, it’s really important to us that you have family or friends who can help and support you.
Denise, aged 56, is a single parent foster carer. She didn't think she had much chance of becoming a foster carer for a number of reasons. Read Denise's story.
It's ok to own pets, but we'll need to do a pet assessment just to make sure they're child friendly.
It doesn't matter if you are living in your own home or renting. As long as your home is safe, stable, secure and loving you can apply.
You will need to have a bedroom for the sole use of a child you look after. Children who are being fostered need their own space and privacy. They can share with their brothers or sisters if this is appropriate.
If you or anyone in your home smokes you will only be able to look after children over the age of five.
We'll also expect you not to smoke inside the house.
We know smoking around children can affect their health and we expect our foster carers to respect this.
You don't have to drive. But, if you don't drive or have access to a car then we'll need to be sure you're able to get children to and from school, and to any meetings with their birth family.
Sometimes children need to travel to other areas of the county to attend school.
We welcome applications from people regardless of religion or faith. Your religion will not be a barrier to becoming a foster carer with us and the support of foster parents from all communities is vital to us. We need our foster carers to respect and support our children in practicing their own religion if they have one.
It is absolutely fine for our foster carers to have their own religious beliefs as long as the child is looked after whilst you are at your place of worship and you help the child to celebrate and to recognise their own religious festivals. You must respect a child's religion and be able to support them with this.
In recognition of the valuable work of foster carers and increasing costs, we offer a generous allowance and a high level of support and training including our Foster Carer Academy and mentoring programme, local support groups and regular social activities, so help is always at hand if you need it.
Find out more about the benefits and support you'll receive as part of our fostering community.
Get in touch
Interested in fostering with us? We'd love to hear from you.
If you'd prefer to speak to someone then give us a call on 0300 123 6723
Any of us can foster
Any of us can foster a child or young person, if you have the capacity to care.
Watch our film which looks at three very different people who all show some of the attributes needed to be a foster carer.