Foster carers come from all backgrounds and bring a wide range of life and work experiences. They receive training and support to help them develop the skills to meet the needs of children in care.
Just as there is diversity in fostered children, foster carers need to come from a variety of backgrounds and have different life experiences, skills and qualities to help meet the needs of children and young people in foster care. There are, however, some common criteria that most fostering services need from you:
- to be at least 21 years-old (although by law you can apply to foster from 18)
- to have a spare bedroom big enough for a young person to live in
- to be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain
to be able to give the time to care for a child or young person, often on a full-time basis.
Other factors to consider
Other factors which will be taken into account will include:
- Your health – are you fit and able to foster for now and the foreseeable future?
- Your financial security – can you afford to foster?
- Your home – is it safe for a child or young person?
- Your friends and family – are there people who can support you to foster?
- Your past – whether you have lived abroad and any previous convictions.
Your experience with children and young people – through family, work, or volunteering.
Crucially, any fostering service will want to know more about you and your motivations to foster. Do you want to work with children and young people who have often had difficult starts in life? Do you have the ability to support them, nurture them, communicate with them, advocate on their behalf and include them as part of your family? Are you willing to work as part of a team, develop your skills and qualities through training and learning and have the resilience to stay strong in times of difficulty?
People often rule themselves out of fostering because of the many myths surrounding fostering, such as 'I can't foster if I'm single' or 'I can't foster if I'm gay' or 'I can't foster if I don't have my own children'.
Check out our 'Can I foster if...? page to help dispel some of these myths.