What qualifications do you need to be a foster carer?
A common misconception around fostering is that you need formal qualifications to be a foster parent. However, this simply isn't true - in fact, you don't need any qualifications to foster a child, as we provide you with all the training you need to care for vulnerable children and young people.
There are, however, some key skills that are vital for a career in fostering, including:
- Good communication - both verbal and written
- Empathy and excellent listening skills
- An excellent team player
- Patience, resilience and determination
- Confident with computers to complete daily logs
Many of these are transferrable skills that you can gain in both a professional and personal setting, and so we'll be looking for you to demonstrate some of these key attributes during the assessment process.
Do you need experience with children to foster?
It's beneficial to have some experience with children prior to fostering, which could be gained through;
- Employment - for example, in childcare, education or healthcare
- Voluntary work - for example, Scouts or another local children's group
- Your personal life - either as a parent yourself, caring for nieces or nephews, or even regular childminding duties for friends
As part of the assessment process, we're looking to be able to demonstrate that you're comfortable being around children and that you know how to meet their needs.
If you have limited experience with children, we may recommend that you spend some time volunteering at a local Scouts group before applying to foster, but it's always best that you get in touch, so we can advise you on your personal circumstances.
Do you need to be a parent to foster?
You don't need to be a parent to foster a child - we have many foster parents who haven't had biological children who are doing an extraordinary job. If you have the qualities of a fantastic foster parent and the determination to make a life-changing difference, then we'd love to hear from you.
We offer ongoing training that starts before you're approved, excellent support from a specialist team, including a dedicated social worker and a 24/7 helpline, and regular support groups and lunches with local foster families.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to become a foster parent
Becoming a foster parent is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do – you’re giving a child, who may not have had the best start in life, a chance to flourish with your love, care and understanding.
The fostering process may not be as difficult as you think – we’ll aim to complete your fostering assessment within 4-6 months. However, we’ll always move at a pace that’s right for you.