Last updated:
9 June 2017

Frequently asked questions around fostering

Find answers to some of the most common questions we are asked on fostering.

Does it matter if I am vegetarian?

No, it does not matter if you are vegetarian.

We are keen to recruit foster carers from a variety of cultural backgrounds and belief systems to reflect the diversity of the children who need looking after. We would therefore ask potential foster carers to think about how they would meet the needs of children with differing cultural beliefs or dietary requirements who come to live with their family.

Can I work and foster at the same time?

It really depends on the type of fostering you want to do. Some types of foster placements require you to be available full time, such as parent and child fostering and pre-school children, while others don’t. It also depends on whether you can get appropriate time off to cover emergencies, school holidays and when your child is sick.

If you could look after a child at the weekends or for short periods, you might be able to become a short break carer or respite carer.

Does it matter if I am single, divorced or in a same sex relationship?

Your relationship status or sexuality is not a barrier to fostering, if you are motivated to make a difference to a child’s life, we would like to hear from you. However, if you have recently been through a major life event, such as a divorce, we would ask you to allow time to adjust to your new situation before you apply to foster.

Does it matter that I do not have children of my own?

Not necessarily, but it is useful to have some experience of caring for children and an understanding of how to meet their needs. This could be through your previous or current jobs, for example, from volunteering work or from children who are close to your family.

Am I too old to foster a child?

Probably not, as long as you are fit and reasonably healthy! It is an advantage to have some life experience and maturity when you foster a child.

Can I foster if I'm a smoker?

Because of the known health risks for younger children in particular, you would not be able to foster children under five if you smoke. If you do smoke, we would ask you to do so outside. It is illegal to smoke in a car with children.

The long term effects of e-cigarettes are still not clear, so the same guidance applies to the use of e-cigarettes around children, as with regular smoking. However, in accordance with CoramBAAF guidelines, the use of e-cigarettes is not a barrier to fostering.

Can I foster if I have a medical condition?

If you have a medical condition or a disability that is not life threatening, is well controlled by medication and does not affect normal daily life, we will consider you as a foster carer. All foster applicants will undergo medical checks as part of the assessment process.

Can I foster if I don't own my own property?

Yes - as long as you have a stable tenancy and your landlord is happy for you to do so. 

For more information on how fostering may impact on housing benefit, visit GOV.UK.

How much money will I receive if I foster?

There are two elements of payment that a foster carer receives. The first part, the fostering allowance, is dependent on the child's age. The second part, a skills fee, increases with the number of children placed and with your level of training and experience.

A foster carer’s allowance is not considered a salary, so although you should inform the benefits office and tax authorities, your state benefits and tax position are usually unaffected.

Foster carers are treated as self-employed for tax and National Insurance purposes. Further details on foster care tax relief is available from GOV.UK.

You will also usually only be paid for the duration of a child’s placement with you.

Please note that as a foster carer, you cannot claim Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit for the children you foster. Please visit our fostering allowances page for more information on current rates.

Can I foster if I have a Police record?

You do have to declare all offences, no matter how long ago and we check all applicants with a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Offences against children by you or anyone in your household will automatically rule people out, but for other circumstances we will consider your individual situation.

I’m planning to move house/undertake building works on my home soon - is this a problem?

Yes, we would advise you to wait until this has been completed, as you will need time to settle in to a new home or finish any building work so you can concentrate on the assessment process.

Do I have to be able to drive to foster?

Preferably you should have access to a car as you will be asked to travel to meetings and take children to and from school, to contact and other activities as part of your fostering. Alternatively you would need easy access to regular and reliable public transport.

How do I speak to someone about fostering?

If you have any questions about fostering, we’d love to hear from you.

You can: 

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