Who can become a foster carer?
There's no such thing as a typical foster carer; they come from all walks of life and a wide range of backgrounds.
You don't need any formal qualifications, but you do need to be comfortable around children with experience in parenting, working with children of the age you're looking to foster, or you may have volunteered or cared for friends and families’ children.
We're not simply looking for people who've had straightforward lives. We'll consider your family history sympathetically; learning from difficulties or losses can be helpful experiences for fostering.
To be a foster carer you can be:
married, single or living with a partner
in full-time or part-time employment, or unemployed
male, female or transgender
disabled or non-disabled
a parent or childless (with experience of looking after children or young people)
any race, religion or culture
any age over 21 (or 16 for link befriending), and fit enough to meet the needs of the age group you're fostering (age needn’t be a barrier to fostering)
a home owner, or living in rented accommodation
Regardless of your age, gender or culture, if you are a compassionate, patient and resilient person you could provide a child with the secure and nurturing home they need.
What qualities does a foster carer need?
Children need consistency, understanding and someone who will stick by them in order to feel secure.
You will need to listen and persevere, be physically and emotionally strong enough to cope with the demand of fostering, and not give up in the face of difficulties. This doesn't preclude people who have long-term medical conditions, but these will need to be managed and stable for some time.
You will need to be settled and stable in your life and not expecting any significant changes in the near future, such as moving house, trying for a baby or undergoing fertility treatment. If you're a couple, you'll need to have been in a stable relationship for at least two years.
If there are a lot of changes going on in your life, you should wait for things to settle down before applying. However, you can still call us, or pop along to one of our events to find out more about fostering to help you decide when it might be the right time.
Other qualities foster carers need include:
the ability to work effectively in a team
an open-minded respect for ethnic and cultural diversity
a positive, patient and non-judgemental attitude to disability
Support from family and friends is also essential, and we need you to consider how fostering will affect those close to you, as well as yourself.
You'll need to have suitable accommodation that's safe and welcoming for a fostered child.
We will not place any child under the age of five with carers or anyone in their household who smoke, and there should be no smoking in fostering households for children of any age.
Who can't foster?
During the assessment process we'll discuss with you any factors that we consider may affect your fostering application.
By law we can't accept applications from anyone who has:
been convicted of certain violent or sexual offences
been convicted of offences against children
If you or a member of your household have criminal convictions, or any other issues you think may prevent you from fostering, please get in touch and we can discuss your individual circumstances with you.