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All your questions about fostering, answered.

Learning about foster care might seem a bit daunting if you're new to it, so we've compiled all of our most commonly asked questions about fostering. Have look below to find answers to questions you may have about being a foster carer.

If you're still unsure about anything or would like to know more, please get in touch.

  • Am I too old to foster?
    There is no upper age limit to foster, and there are many foster carers in their 60s and 70s. What matters is that you are fit and able to care for and meet the needs of any child you are approved to care for.
  • Can I foster if I'm single?
    You can! You don’t have to be married or in a relationship to foster. There are lots of foster carers who are single, but you should be able to demonstrate a network of support through family and friends.
  • Can I foster if I smoke?
    There is no rule against smoking if you are a carer, however, as fostering involves responsibility for the health and welfare of children, there is an expectation that smoking would be restricted to appropriate areas, i.e. outside and not in front of children. For health and ethical reasons, we do not place children under the age of five with carers that smoke.
  • Can I foster if I have a criminal record?
    A criminal record does not necessarily stop you from becoming a foster carer. The law states that the only convictions that prevent people from fostering are those that relate to an offence against children or a sexual offence. All criminal convictions and cautions will need to be disclosed when you apply and we will explore these with you as we obtain an enhanced disclosure and barring (DBS) check.
  • Can I foster if I practice a religion?
    Whatever your religion, you are able to foster. However, you would need to consider whether you’d be willing to support any beliefs a foster child may already have and discuss ideas such as alternative beliefs or certain ethical issues with a child, ensuring that you abide by Red Kite’s ethical policies.
  • Can I foster if I don't have my own children?
    You are not required to have your own children to foster, however, you will need to have some degree of experience with children and an understanding of child development. This may come from work, volunteering or experience with family and friends’ children.
  • Can I foster if I am LGBTQ+?
    Absolutely! We welcome applications regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, provided you meet the other requirements.
  • Can I foster if I have a disability?
    Having a disability does not prevent you from being a foster carer. We treat applicants fairly and respectfully as our goal is to ensure that people who apply to become carers are physically and psychologically fit enough to care for children and meet their needs.
  • Can I foster if I have pets?
    Having a pet does not stop you from fostering. Pets are very much part of normal family life and can even be seen as a therapeutic benefit and learning experience to a foster family. Every pet will be assessed during the information collection process to review such things as their temperament and behaviour. As a pet owner you should also consider how you might respond if a child harms one of your pets, or if a pet harms a child in your care.
  • Can a foster child share a room?
    Foster children cannot share a room with your own children or family members, it is a requirement that you have a spare room available if you wish to foster a child. In certain cases, foster siblings may be able to share a room.
  • Will I have time for my own family if I foster?
    During the review process, we will ask about your specific commitments, including an informal interview with your own children, and discuss how you will be able to manage your time to care for a new addition to your household. We will offer support to help you manage a schedule that allows you to manage all aspects of your family life.
  • Can I foster if I work?
    Yes, many foster carers balance a full or part-time job alongside fostering, depending on the age and needs of the children in your care. Foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, attend meetings, training, support groups, and to promote and support contact between a child and their family. Some carers find that it is practical to reduce working hours or become a full-time carer. During the assessment, we will discuss with you how you can manage these responsibilities, such as working around school hours or making use of some after-school activities where appropriate.
  • How much will I get paid to foster?
    Rates will vary according to the level of experience or skill that a foster carer can offer. Our foster carers receive between £400 and £750 per child per week.
  • What if I don't have a steady income?
    Not having a steady income/certain salary will not restrict you from fostering, if you can demonstrate financial stability. Fostering is unpredictable - you may not always have a child living with you - and so the allowances and fees received from fostering should not be seen as the main form of income. You will need to think about how you will manage financially during such times when there is no fostering income.
  • Can I foster if I receive benefits?
    You can still foster if you are receiving benefits. As a foster carer, you will receive fostering payments when a child is placed with you. Generally, fostering payments are completely disregarded as income when calculating welfare benefits or only taxable income from your fostering is regarded as income. Given that there is a generous tax scheme in place for foster carers, many foster carers’ taxable income is zero. The Government Website provides further information about your options.
  • Can I register with multiple fostering agencies?
    No, although changing agencies is fine, carers cannot be registered with more than one independent fostering agency at a time.
  • Can I choose who I foster?
    Carers are very much part of the matching process and are consulted and supported at every stage of welcoming a new addition to their household. Carers are under no pressure or obligation to accept a fostering arrangement that they consider unsuitable.
  • How long is the process of becoming a foster carer?
    Following the period of initial enquiry and screening, and once a dedicated social worker is assigned to your application, the process will generally take a minimum of 12 weeks. Click here for a step-by-step of this process.
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