What is foster care

How can we help?

Who can foster?

Who can apply to become a foster parent?

We welcome individuals from all walks of life to join our team of foster parents. You can be:

  • Male or female;
  • Single, married, divorced, co-habiting;
  • Straight, gay, bisexual or transgender;
  • From any ethnic group or religion;
  • Any age over 21 – so long as you’re fit and healthy, and able to meet the needs of a child in care.

Of course, you’ll need to meet the initial criteria to foster, which are that you’re over 21 years old, have the legal right to work in the UK and have a spare bedroom that’s always available for a child in care.

Requirements to foster

Do I need any experience to become a foster parent?

While experience with children is beneficial, it’s not essential as our preparatory training course will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to care for a child. Plus, with our professional circle of support - including social workers, therapists, fostering advisors, advisory teachers and other foster carers - you’re never more than a phone call away from specialist advice.

Some of our foster parents have previous experience with young people, either through work or bringing up children of their own. Others don’t have any previous experience but hold a strong desire to make a difference.

Our Training Programme

Do I need any qualifications to foster?

No, you don’t need any qualifications to become a foster carer. Our therapeutic training programme will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to make a life-changing difference.

Core training is around vital topics, such as safeguarding, child protection, creating a therapeutic childcare environment, paediatric first aid and more. There’s also a wide range of other courses to choose from, and we’re adding to these all the time. These tend to be about specialist subjects such as Autism Awareness, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Theraplay and keeping children safe online.

You can attend as many training courses as you like to build your skills and awareness as a foster carer.

There’s even the chance to study for professional qualifications such as NVQ3 or a QCF Level 3 in Health and Social Care. Our aim is to help our foster parents become as knowledgeable as possible because that improves the experiences of the children in their care.

Find out more

Do I need a spare bedroom to foster?

Yes, you’ll need to have a spare bedroom to foster a child in the UK - this is set out in the National Minimum Standards for fostering where it states that every child in the foster home over the age of 3 should have their own bedroom.

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What is the minimum age for becoming a foster parent?

You must be 21 years or older to become a foster parent in the UK.

As with everyone wishing to foster, you’ll need to undergo a full fostering assessment where we’ll look at your ability to meet the needs of a vulnerable child or young person in care.

Becoming a foster carer is the most rewarding role you’ll ever do, however, it’s also incredibly hard work and requires your total dedication. You’ll need to carefully consider whether now is the right time for you and whether you’re willing to make sacrifices – like spontaneous evening plans and weekends away - for the benefit of the child in your care.

We’ve worked with some fantastic young foster parents over the years, who have gone on to make a huge difference to the lives of children, and many are still fostering with us today.

Speak to our team

Is there a maximum age to foster?

There’s no upper age limit to become a foster carer, so long as you’re fit, healthy and have enough energy to meet the needs of a child or young person in care.

As with everyone wishing to foster, you’ll need to undergo a full fostering assessment where we’ll look at your suitability to foster. This includes a medical examination by your GP, who will assess your health and highlight any potential issues that may affect your ability to foster.

We work with foster carers in their 20’s right through to their 70’s and 80’s and each bring a unique set of skills, experience and knowledge to our foster parent community.

Find out more

Can I still work and be a foster parent?

It’s possible to work and foster, however, it’s completely dependent on your personal circumstances and so we always recommend that individuals speak to one of our fostering advisers to understand whether we can make it work.

Some of the things we’ll explore include:

  • Are you applying as a single applicant or do you have a partner who can help with the day-to-day fostering duties?
  • How many hours you’ll be working while you’re fostering?
  • Can your employer be flexible around working hours, annual leave and unexpected meetings or emergencies?
  • Are you a home-based worker?
  • Are you self-employed?

Find out more

I’m now retired; am I able to foster?

Absolutely, there’s no age limit to start your fostering journey, so long as you’re fit, healthy and have enough energy to meet the needs of a child in care.

We have foster parents in their late 60’s and 70’s still fostering with us and making a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable young people.

We’ll expertly match you with children and young people who suit your skills and experience and surround you with a professional team of social workers, education specialists, therapists and more. Plus, you’ll have 24/7 access to our helpline, so you’re never on your own.

As with everyone wishing to foster, you’ll need to undergo a full fostering assessment where we’ll look at your suitability to foster. This includes a medical examination by your GP, who will assess your health and highlight any potential issues that may affect your ability to foster.

Find out more

Do I need to own my own home to foster?

No, you don’t need to own your own home to foster. In fact, we have many foster parents who rent their property – you’ll need to get the landlord’s permission to foster.

Speak to our team

 

I have young children; can I still foster?

We work with children and young people who’ve had incredibly difficult starts in life and need a lot of care and attention to help them develop and reach their full potential.

This can be challenging for parents with young children, however, not impossible; it completely depends on your personal circumstances and whether you’re able to meet the needs of a child in care.

As part of the process to become a foster carer, we’ll provide you with lots of information about the role and what to expect, so you’re able to make an informed decision about whether fostering is right for you and your family at this time.

If you’d like to speak to one of our fostering advisers and receive friendly, no-obligation advice, simply complete our online form or give us a call on 0800 0857 989.

Speak to our team

Can I foster if I’m single?

Absolutely – we have some fantastic single foster parents; some have children of their own, others have no previous experience with children but a great determination to make an extraordinary difference to a child’s life.

As with anybody looking to become a foster carer, you’ll undergo a fostering assessment where we’ll assess your suitability to foster.

As part of this assessment, we’ll need to consider your availability and any plans to continue other work commitments, whether you have a supportive group of friends and family who would be willing to help if needed and also your financial stability, particularly for short periods where you may not be caring for a child.

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Can I foster if I’m gay?

Yes, you can absolutely foster if you’re gay.

It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, male, female, non-binary, single or married, it’s your passion, determination and resilience that’s most important.

We have foster parents from all walks of life and each brings a unique set of skills, experiences and knowledge to the children in care.

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I have a disability and I’d like to become a foster carer. Is this possible?

Having a disability won’t automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster carer. It’s much more about how you manage your health condition or disability and how it may affect your ability to meet the needs of a child, and whether the challenging nature of fostering may negatively impact your health.

The fostering assessment will, therefore, check that your health condition or disability won’t hold you back from fulfilling your duties as a foster carer and also that the role won’t have a detrimental impact on your health.

We always recommend that you speak to one of our fostering advisers, so we can understand your condition a little more.

Speak to our team

Can people from all religious groups become foster parents?

Absolutely – we’re looking for individuals from all religious groups and ethnic backgrounds to join our foster parent community, to reflect the children and young people in foster care and have a true understanding of their needs and beliefs.

We receive many referrals every day from local authorities for children from a range of ethnic backgrounds and religious groups and we always try to place them with foster families that match their culture and religious beliefs.

All our foster parents are trained in Equality and Diversity and provided with 1:1 support to ensure they have the knowledge and understanding to care for a child that may be from a different culture to themselves.

Speak to our team

Can you foster if you have pets?

Yes, you can absolutely foster if you have pets – in fact, there are some fantastic therapeutic benefits of having pets in the foster home and we often see great companionship between pets and children in care.

We do have to make sure that pets have a suitable temperament to be around children and visitors in the home so that we can ensure the safety of the young people we place in your care.

Please note, we cannot accept applications from anybody who has a banned breed in the UK, as part of the Dangerous Dog Act.

Speak to our team

I can’t drive; does this mean I can’t foster?

One of the important duties of a foster carer is around transporting a child in your care to various meetings, including contact with their family, therapy sessions (if needed) and school, which isn’t always nearby. In addition, you’ll also need to attend regular meetings and training at your local ISP centre. Therefore, having access to transport is vital for you to be able to fulfil the role of a foster carer.

Whether you can make it work as a non-driver will completely depend on your personal circumstances. For example, you may have a partner who will be able to do the school run, transport to contact and therapy and you can make alternative arrangements to get to the ISP centre for training and meetings, or you may have excellent public transport links within your area – for example, London and other major cities.

We always recommend that you speak to one of our fostering advisers, so we can understand your personal circumstances and see if we can find a way to make it work.

Speak to our team

Can I foster if I take antidepressants/have depression/have had depression?

Having a mental health condition - such as depression and anxiety - and using medication to manage it won’t automatically rule you out from becoming a foster carer. It’s much more about how you manage your mental health and whether you’ve reached a level of emotional stability that means you’ll be able to provide a secure and predictable family home environment to a child in care. This will just need to be explored as part of our fostering assessment.

If you’re concerned about your mental health and whether you think it will impact your ability to foster, we always recommend that you speak to one of our fostering advisers. We’re always happy to talk to you about the role in more detail, so you can carefully consider whether fostering is right for you.

Speak to our team

I’m a smoker; can I still become a foster parent?

Smoking wouldn’t prevent you from being a foster carer, as long as you’re prepared to not smoke in the home. You also wouldn’t be able to care for a child under 5 years old.

The above would also apply to any other smokers living in the foster home.

I have a criminal record; does this mean I can’t foster?

We’d need to understand the nature of your convictions before we’re able to make an informed decision about your application to foster.

For example, we wouldn’t progress with:

  • Any criminal convictions that relate to children or sexual offences
  • Any offences of violence or aggression within the past 10 years

An open and honest policy is always advised right from the very beginning of your fostering journey; a full DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) will be completed and any relevant offences that become known to us that you haven’t disclosed are likely to raise serious concerns around your openness and trustworthiness.

If you’d like to foster but are concerned about your criminal record, then we always advise that you speak to one of our fostering advisors.

Speak to our team

 

If I don't get approved for adoption, can I still be a foster parent?

It largely depends on the reasons why you weren’t approved for adoption, as it is likely that you will be asked for a reference from the adoption agency as to why you weren’t approved. They would also ask you why you chose to adopt and if your reasons remain the same for fostering.

The reasons behind not being approved for adoption can be lengthy, complicated and also very logical. It could be the case that people who are not suitable to adopt are deemed suitable to foster, but it is not always the case. Our experts know of several cases where people who have been declined for adoption go onto foster, for example, in instances where the panel has deemed that the family unit was not ready to adopt due to the permanent nature of adoption, but are ready to foster.

It can be the case that factors that exclude people from adopting can exclude them from fostering, but as with everything to do with fostering and adoption, there is no black and white.

It should also be noted that adoption and fostering are not the same thing and there will be very different driving forces behind applying for each. Fostering shouldn’t be considered a second-best to adoption. A person who originally applies to adopt and then wishes to foster will have to consider different things before making their decision.

One of the main differences to consider is whether you could deal with a child that wouldn’t be staying for long and if you could handle the uncertainties that fostering brings. Adoption provides permanency that fostering doesn’t, and so switching from one to the other may not be as easy as you think.

Speak to our team

How old do you have to be to foster?

Foster carers must be at least 21 years old – this is a requirement that’s shared across all fostering services in the UK.

Children In Care

What types of children need fostering?

There are many different children who are living in foster care, including babies, toddlers, children and teenagers up to 18 years old, from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, requiring different types of foster care placements. And while every child’s history is unique, the most common reasons that a child will come into foster care are due to neglect and abuse.

As a therapeutic fostering agency, we generally care for slightly older children and teenagers, who have more complex needs - often due to negative past experiences and trauma - and require specialist support and therapeutic services. Working with children with complex needs can often be challenging, but it’s also one of the most rewarding roles you’ll ever do.

Find out more

Can I choose the kind of fostering placement I have?

Absolutely – even though we gain an in-depth understanding of your experience, qualities and preferences from the moment you join ISP, we’ll never put you forward to care for a child or young person without your permission and we’ll always respect your decision for turning down a referral.

We want children and young people to experience stable, secure family home environments and for our foster families to have a positive fostering experience, and this starts with quality matching.

Find out more

How long will I have to wait for my first placement?

It’s difficult to put an exact time frame on how long you may wait before you welcome a child into your home as this depends on so many different factors, including:

  • Number of referrals in your area
  • Your personal matching preferences
  • The needs of the children being referred and whether you’re able to meet these needs
  • Local authority decision

We received hundreds of referrals across our agency every day and our dedicated Referrals Team work tirelessly to find the right match for you, your family and the child in care.

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Do foster children have difficult behaviour?

Sadly, most of the children who are placed with our foster families have suffered early emotional deprivation, neglect and abuse. As a result of these past traumatic experiences, we find that children are not always able to regulate their emotions and may express their feelings through the way in which they behave, which can sometimes be challenging.

The kinds of behaviour we often see from children in care, include:

  • Withdrawing
  • Pushing boundaries
  • Demanding total attention
  • Pushing away intimacy
  • Becoming aggressive

It’s important that foster carers can put themselves into the shoes of a child to understand how they’re feeling and what they’re really trying to communicate. Understanding what’s behind the behaviour is an important step in helping a child to overcome their past and find more appropriate ways of managing and expressing their emotions.

Over many years in this specialist field, we’ve developed what we call ‘wrap-around’ care, giving our foster parents 24/7 access to expert professional support, including therapists, social workers, counsellors and educational experts. You won’t always need it, but it’s good to know that when you do, it’s there.

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How does the matching process work?

We receive thousands of referrals every month from local authorities looking for suitable foster homes for vulnerable children across the country.

There are a number of things we look for when matching children and young people with foster families. We’ll start by checking the foster carer has availability and has been approved for the placement type and age of the child. Next, we’ll look at the family’s matching preferences, such as gender, age and behaviours.

Once the initial checks are completed, we’ll begin to look at other pieces of information on the referral, such as the child’s known history, the behaviour they’re exhibiting and any specialist care that the child may need. We’ll consider whether the child will fit in with the family dynamic – especially with other children in the home – and your skills, training and past experiences with other young people with similar needs to understand whether you may be suitable.

Find out more

Can I foster more than one child?

Yes, you can absolutely be approved to foster more than one child. However, the number of children you can be approved to care for will depend on the number of spare bedrooms you have available. For example, if you live in a 4-bedroom house and you have 1 birth child living at home, you could be approved to care for 2 children.

This could be siblings or in some cases, foster carers may care for children from two different families. However, this would be carefully planned to ensure ongoing stability for the child already in placement.

How long do fostering placements last?

Foster care placements may be needed in an emergency for a night or two, or can be several weeks, months or years, or until the child turns eighteen - it completely depends on the child’s care plan.

Foster carers can choose which kind of placement type would suit them best – for example short-term (up to 2 years), long-term (more than 2 years), respite fostering (short breaks) and more.

Find out more

Can I choose how long I want a child or young person to stay with me?

No, it’s important that children have a strong sense of security and stability while in foster care and are not moved around to various homes. Therefore, the expected duration of the placement is always agreed ahead of any arrangements being made and is centred around the needs of the child.

Who is responsible for taking foster children to school or the doctors?

Foster carers are responsible for taking the children in their care to school, as well as doctors and dentist appointments, and any other appointments, such as therapy, contact with their family, etc.

Can a foster child share a bedroom?

No, it’s a regulation in the UK that every child in the foster home that’s over the age of 3 should have their own bedroom – this includes looked-after children and young people.

There may be some scenarios where the local authority may agree to place young siblings together and have them share a bedroom if it means they can remain together in foster care, however, these are special circumstances.

Find out more

Do I get any extra help if I care for a child who has special needs or a disability?

Yes, as an ISP foster carer, you’re supported by an entire network of professionals, including social workers, fostering advisors and therapists, who are on hand to offer expert support and guidance, whenever you need it.

Alongside first-class support, we offer a wide variety of specialist training courses, including Autism and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to make a life-changing difference.

Find out more

How much will I know about the child or young person before the placement starts?

This will differ for every child in foster care. For example, if it’s an emergency and the child is coming into care straight from their home, the local authority may have very little information about them and their history.

However, if they’ve been in care for a little while then more information will be available. Generally, this information is gathered from the child’s local authority social worker, previous foster carers, schools and past LAC (Looked After Child) reviews.

This information will be included within the Referral and our experienced team will work with the local authority to fill any gaps, wherever possible. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask any questions.

Will I be able to meet the child before the placement begins?

Wherever possible, we always endeavour to introduce children to their new foster carers before the start of the placement. These introductions may be face-to-face or completed virtually via video call if face-to-face isn’t possible.

Your supervising social worker will carefully plan these introductions, so the child feels comfortable and safe. It may be that the child pops over for a hot chocolate and some biscuits, you may spend some time together at the park or doing another activity that they enjoy.

Application Process

How do I apply to be a foster parent?

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to apply to become an ISP foster carer:

  1. Take your first step – simply complete our online enquiry form or give us a call on 0800 0857 989.
  2. Initial call – we’ll give you a call, so you can learn more about fostering, the children we work with and the wrap around support we provide to our foster parents, plus answer any of your questions. If you’re ready to move forward, we’ll ask you a few questions and arrange a home visit.
  3. Home visit – one of our team will visit you at home, where we’ll spend more time getting to know you and vice versa. The visits tend to last between 1-2 hours and are a fantastic opportunity for you to find out everything you need to know to decide whether fostering is right for you. These can also be completed virtually via a video call.
  4. Apply to foster – you’ll need to complete an application form to be considered to become a foster parent. If successful, you’ll be allocated an independent assessing social worker, who start your fostering assessment. The application form can be completed online or via a hard copy that we can send to you.

Once your application has been approved, you’ll start your fostering assessment which generally takes around 4-6 months to complete.

Find out more

What checks are carried out?

As part of your fostering assessment, we’ll carry out various mandatory and optional background checks, such as an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service), local authority and health and safety checks, as well as collect a number of personal and professional references.

These checks and references are a vital part of the application process to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people we may place with prospective foster carers.

Find out more

Can I apply to be a foster parent online?

Yes, our application form is available online.  

However, first, you’ll need to speak to our fostering advisers, who will give you a call to take some initial details and then arrange for somebody to visit you at home, or via video call.

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What does the application process involve?

There are a number of stages within the fostering assessment, including:

  • Social work visits with an Assessing Social Worker – normally 8-10 visits across several months.
  • Background checks, including an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).
  • Personal and professional references.
  • Training to prepare you in your role as a foster carer.

All the information gathered throughout the process will be brought together in a Form F report and presented to an independent fostering panel who will make a recommendation on your suitability to foster. The process generally takes 4-6 months to complete, however, timescales may vary depending on your personal circumstances.

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How long does the fostering application take?

From the moment you take your first step to approval, it generally takes around 4-6 months to complete your fostering assessment. However, these timescales may vary depending on your personal circumstances and availability for the social work visits.

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Does it cost me anything to apply?

No, there’s absolutely no cost to apply to foster.

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If I’m going to be the main foster carer, do you need to carry out checks on my partner as well?

Yes, background checks will need to be completed on all adults over the age of 18 years old who are living in the foster home.

Find out more

 

Will I be employed by ISP or self-employed?

Will I be employed by ISP or self-employed?

Foster carers are classed as self-employed and so you’ll, therefore, need to register as self-employed with HMRC and submit a tax return – also known as a self-assessment – every year while fostering.

While income from fostering is taxable, there are specialist tax rules that mean that you can earn up to a certain amount, absolutely tax-free.

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What training will I receive to be able to foster?

Experience working with children and young people isn’t necessary, as our specialist training programme will provide you with all the skills and knowledge you need to make an extraordinary difference and become a true fostering professional.

Pre-approval training – preparing you for the role

Before you start your fostering career, you’ll attend some preparatory training that’s designed to give you a good idea of the work, what’s involved and what to expect.

New to fostering – developing your core skills

Once approved, you’ll attend a variety of training courses within your first year of fostering that are designed to help you complete your Training Support and Development Standards (TSDS).

These courses cover a range of vital topics, including safeguarding, child protection, creating a therapeutic childcare environment, paediatric first aid and more.

Advanced course – building specialist knowledge

We also have a wide range of other specialist courses to choose from, such as Autism Awareness, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Theraplay and keeping children safe online. Plus, the opportunity to study for professional qualifications such as NVQ3 or a QCF Level 3 in Health and Social Care.

Find out more

About Fostering

What is the process of becoming a foster parent?

The process to become a foster carer generally takes around 4-6 months.

Here are the steps you’ll take to become an ISP foster carer:

  1. Take your first step – simply complete our online enquiry form or give us a call on 0800 0857 989.
  2. Initial call – we’ll give you a call, so you can learn more about fostering, the children we work with and the wrap around support we provide to our foster parents, plus answer any of your questions. If you’re ready to move forward, we’ll ask you a few questions and arrange a home visit.
  3. Home visit – one of our team will visit you at home, where we’ll spend more time getting to know you and vice versa. The visits tend to last between 1-2 hours and are a fantastic opportunity for you to find out everything you need to know to decide whether fostering is right for you. These can also be completed virtually via a video call.
  4. Apply to foster – you’ll need to complete an application form to be considered to become a foster carer. If successful, you’ll be allocated an independent assessing social worker, who start your fostering assessment.
  5. Assessment and training – your fostering assessment will include a series of social work visits with an independent assessor and various background checks, including a full DBS and local authority checks. You’ll also attend our preparatory foster carer training course.
  6. Panel – once your fostering assessment report is complete, you’ll be invited to a fostering panel. This is where an independent group of individuals from various backgrounds, including social work, education and care experienced young people, will make a recommendation on your suitability to foster.
  7. Approval – the recommendation from panel will be reviewed by our decision maker, who will make a final decision on your approval. You’ll receive the final decision within 10 working days of panel.
  8. Expert matching – once approved, you’ll be introduced to our dedicated referrals team, who will get to know you and learn about your experience and preferences, so they can expertly match you with children.

Find out more

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What training will I receive as a foster carer?

Being a foster carer is a profession, and like all professions that means an opportunity to learn and develop new skills - and even to gain qualifications. With over 30 years’ know-how and experience, you can be sure you’ll always have access to first-class training throughout your career.

This starts before you’ve even taken in your first child and then never really stops, helping you build your knowledge and expertise in therapeutic fostering. With an extensive programme running throughout the year, there’s always the chance to learn something new.

Training courses are usually held at your local ISP centre during school hours, so they’re convenient and accessible. They’re also open to anyone who’s over the age of 16 so, for people with their own birth children, it’s a chance to get the while family involved.

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What is fostering?

Around 78,000 children are living in foster care in England for many different reasons, including abuse and neglect. Foster carers provide these children with stable, loving homes for as long as needed. Sometimes, this may be a night or two in emergency circumstances, other times this may be several months or years, or up until their eighteenth birthday.

Unlike a child’s parent or legal guardian, foster carers don’t have legal responsibility for the children in their care, this remains with the parents and local authority. Foster carers, therefore, need to ask permission from the child’s social worker for a number of decisions, such as haircuts and holidays.

Fostering is often described as one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do – giving children and young people, who haven’t been given the best start in life, the opportunity to thrive.

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What is the difference between fostering and adoption?

When a child is in foster care, the local authority and birth parents are legally responsible for them. This is often a temporary arrangement but can also be on a long-term basis.

Foster carers receive a weekly allowance to cover the cost of the child in their care, while also providing them with a professional fee for their hard work and dedication. Foster parents may need to seek permission for various decisions, such as haircuts and holidays, and often, will need to coordinate contact with birth family.

Adoption is permanent and the adoptive parent has full legal responsibility for the child.

What kind of support can I expect?

With over 30 years’ experience of working with children and young people with complex needs, we understand the level of support that foster carers need to make an extraordinary difference.

Just some of the ‘wrap-around’ services that come as standard, include:

  • Regular supervision – all of our foster parents and children have a regular monthly meeting with their dedicated social worker.
  • Professional back up – a large team of professionals on-hand to support you, including therapists, social workers, counsellors and educational expertise. You won’t always need it but it’s there for you to access, whenever you do.
  • 24/7 support - our helpline is open 24/7 all year round, including weekends and bank holidays.
  • Training and development - we support your development as a person and a foster parent with an on-going programme of training throughout the year.
  • Events and activities, all year around - we work hard to bring everyone together for regular events at local centres, and we hold family activities all year round.
  • Online resources – an online portal – iSpace – which is a database of key resources including telephone numbers and our Foster Carer Handbook which is full of useful information.
  • 22 nights respite – when you need time to relax and recharge, we’ll arrange for the child in your care to be looked after by another trusted family.
  • Fostering Network membership - this brings you many useful and practical benefits, including insurance, legal protection, medical and stress advice helplines, as well as a Foster Care Magazine and members’ only events and offers.

You’ll feel that you and the child are at the centre and that there’s a strong support structure all around you at every stage of your fostering journey, helping you get the best for the children and young people in your care.

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Finances

Does a foster carer get paid for fostering?

Yes, foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance for every child in their care, which is generally completely tax-free.

The fostering allowance is split into two parts:

  1. An allowance to cover the cost of a child in care, including food, drink, clothing, utilities, activities and more.
  2. A professional fee awarded to the foster carer for their hard work, skills and dedication to a vulnerable child in care.

With ISP, you’ll receive a generous allowance, starting at £442 per week (higher rates within London to reflect the higher cost of living) and increasing up to £530 per week through the completion of additional training and experience.

In addition, you’ll also receive other allowances for holidays and Summer activities, as well as access to hundreds of discounts for big-name brands, such as Asda, John Lewis, Costa, New Look and more, via our foster parent reward platform, The Exchange.

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How much is a foster carer paid?

Fostering allowances vary from agency to agency, and even local authority. However, allowances are generally around £400 - £450 per week, per child.

Our foster parents receive a generous allowance, starting at £442 per week (higher rates within London to reflect the higher cost of living) and increasing up to £530 per week through the completion of additional training and experience.

In addition, they also receive other allowances for holidays and Summer activities, as well as access to hundreds of discounts for big-name brands, such as Asda, John Lewis, Costa, New Look and more, via our foster parent reward platform, The Exchange.

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Do I have to pay tax on my fostering allowance?

Foster carers receive a £10,000 tax allowance on their annual fostering income, plus an additional weekly tax relief for each child in their care – known as Qualifying Care Relief – meaning that they can receive payments up to a certain amount, completely tax-free.

Whether you pay tax will depend on several factors, including the number of children you have in placement, the type of placement and whether you receive enhanced fees and whether you receive any other income aside from fostering.

However, in general, if you’re caring for 1 child and do not have any other source of income, the Qualifying Care Relief should be higher than the income received and therefore you will not pay tax.

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Will I be paid when I don’t have a child in placement?

Unfortunately, foster carers only receive a fostering allowance when they have a child in placement.

However, we receive hundreds of referrals every day from local authorities and have a dedicated Referrals Team who match these children with the skills and experience of our foster parents.

In addition, we work closely with our foster parents whose children are approaching the date that’s planned for them to move on from their care and work with local authorities to identify any potential placements that can be planned in future.

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Do foster parents receive child benefits?

The fostering allowance isn’t counted towards your income, therefore will not affect your eligibility to receive child tax credits or any other means-tested benefit.

However, child tax credits can only be claimed for your own children and not for any child within your care.

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Transfer Fostering Agency

How do I transfer to your agency?

Transferring to ISP from your existing fostering agency or local authority may be easier than you think. We'd need to speak to you first and understand whether you have children in your care currently or not as the process is a little different in both cases.

You'll need to complete a full fostering assessment but we'll aim to complete this within 12 weeks of you first getting in touch with us.

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How long is the process for transferring?

From the outset, we try to make the move as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and any children in your care. We aim to complete your assessment within 12 weeks if you're transferring from another fostering agency or local authority and are on hand to support you every step of the way. 

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Do I have to complete a new Form F assessment?

Yes, the Form F is not transferable and your current Form F belongs to the agency you currently foster for. However, the Form F process can be quicker as you have been through it before.

Am I able to transfer with my current child in placement?

In order to transfer agencies with children in place, a protocol meeting will be held between ourselves, the local authority responsible for the children and your current fostering agency to ensure everyone is in agreement.

Frequently asked questions about fostering

Can't find what you're looking for?

Speak to one of our fostering advisors who'll answer all of your questions. 

Call us on 0800 0857 989

Fostering stories