Even if you are working full time, fostering is still a possibility. Fostering isn’t a stable source of income so many of our carers do continue to work. However, you may need to demonstrate flexibility and understanding with your employer. It is important that all our foster carers have a support network who can help out, occasionally. This might be helping with the school run, for example.
Our priority is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the children in care, so we need to know there will be someone looking after the foster child before and after school, and during school holidays.
I don’t have a spare room?
In order to become a foster carer, you do need to have a spare bedroom. It is really important that a foster child has their own bedroom, as this is their privacy and space.
The only exception to this is in the case of fostering babies under the age of 2, who can share a foster carer’s bedroom. We don’t recruit foster carers who don’t have a spare bedroom as an agency, we don’t receive that many referrals to foster babies.
I am retired?
There is no maximum age limit to be able to foster. So, as long as you are at least 21 years old, you would be eligible to foster. We’ve had foster carers in their 60s and 70s who have been fantastic. As long as you have the energy and are in good health, we would welcome you as a foster carer.
A lot of people who have retired, find they have the time to commit to looking after children in need. Fostering is a 24/7 job and it can be very time-demanding so not having a job to go to, can be perfect!
I have a conviction?
No one is perfect and some people may have a criminal conviction from their past. It might surprise you that if you do have a conviction, you may still be able to foster. The only direct ‘no’ is if that conviction relates to a sexual nature or against a child. Anything else will be assessed on a personal basis. As long as you are open and honest, we will judge you fairly.
A lot of people have learnt from their mistakes and once becoming a foster carer, have been able to turn them into a positive by mentoring the young people they are fostering.
I’m not British?
You don’t have to be British to be able to foster, but you do need to be living in the UK, full time. Children come into care, from all walks of like and our foster families reflect this – different cultural backgrounds, religions, languages etc.
The reason why we ask that you are living in the UK full time, is so we can ensure the children you are fostering, have a level of stability, in where they live. If you have only been in the UK for a short period of time, you would need to have indefinite leave to remain.
Someone in my household smokes?
Smoking does not exclude you from fostering but it will mean there are certain limitations. If approved with Fostering Hearts, you will only be able to foster children over the age of 5. We believe children have a right to live in a smoke free environment so we have a rule of no smoking inside the house or in a car that a foster child might travel in.
I am single?
Relationship status does not affect your ability to foster – it doesn’t matter if you are single, married, divorced, in a long-term relationship. It won’t affect your ability to look after children. Families come in all shapes and sizes, so we won’t judge the size of your family.
Whether you are single or married, it’s important to have a support network who can help in your fostering journey.
I am LGBT+?
Your sexuality has no effect on your ability to look after children, so yes, definitely. The LGBT community is substantially under represented in fostering, and this is something we are trying to address. If you are LGBT+ and interested in fostering, please do contact us.
Your sexuality does not matter to us. What matters is that you can offer a loving home to a child in care.
I have pets?
Having pets does not stop you from being able to foster. In fact, pets can be a great asset to a foster family! For many of us, including children, pets can be very therapeutic. We have heard stories of children chatting to their pets, which is fantastic.
However, there are a few breeds of dog which we would consider too much of a risk – dogs that have the ability to lock their jaws.
Whatever pet you have, we would carry out a risk assessment. We want to ensure that our foster children are in a caring, hygienic environment.
I travel a lot?
We all need a break, or a change of scenery, sometimes. We think it’s great when foster children can go on holiday with their foster carers. Provided you have permission from the child’s social worker, and they have a passport if needed, then holidays are fantastic.
If, however, you are travelling abroad regularly throughout the week, you may need to think about how this will fit in with your fostering responsibilities. You would also need to think about what happens if the child you are fostering, is unable to travel with you.