Children and young people need foster carers from all backgrounds with a wide range of life, work and care experiences. All foster carers are given ongoing training and support to develop the skills they need to help children thrive.
Just as no two children are the same, 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. You can be a foster carer without having any specific qualifications, and you don't need to have children of your own. What's important is that you can support, nurture and care for children who cannot live with their own families.
Can anyone be a foster carer?
In general, you can apply to be a foster carer if you:
- are at least 18 years old (although most fostering services will want you to be 21)
- have a spare bedroom big enough for a child or young person to live in
- are living in the UK, in your own home or with a secure rental agreement
are willing and able to care for a child or young person, often on a full-time basis.
Claire, foster carer.
What else should I think about?
As part of your application, most fostering services will want to know more about you. You might be asked questions about:
- Your health – are you fit and well enough to foster a child now? Do you have any health problems that might make fostering more difficult in the future?
- Your finances – can you afford to be a foster carer?
- Your home – is your house safe and suitable for children or young people to live in?
- Your friends and family – who are the people who can support you while you foster?
- Your past – have you lived abroad, or do you have a criminal record?
- Your experience with children and young people – have you looked after children before, through family, work, or volunteering?
You will also be asked about your reasons for wanting to be a foster carer. For example:
- Why do you want to work with children and young people?
- Can you support children and young people, nurture them, communicate with them, advocate on their behalf and include them as part of your family?
- Will you work as part of a team, and take part in training and learning to develop your skills?
Catherine, foster carer.
Did you know?
People often think they can't foster because of fostering myths like, 'I can't foster if I'm single', 'I can't foster if I'm gay', or 'I can't foster if I don't have my own children'. But these things are not important to being a foster carer and will not stop you from fostering. Find out more about fostering myths.
Alan, foster carer for over 20 years.
How do I find out more?
- Find out more about choosing to foster.
- You might also want to find a fostering service near you.
- Read more about being a foster carer, including some first-hand accounts from Lucy Stevens' series of blogs, and best-selling author Cathy Glass's accounts of fostering.
- Learn more about how foster carers are approved.
- Look through our fostering FAQs and common myths about fostering.
Paul and Michael, foster carers.
If you don't think fostering is for you, but would still like help make fostering the best it can be, please consider making a donation to The Fostering Network to support our work.