Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need to be a British Citizen in order to be a foster carer?
British citizenship is not required to be a foster carer in the UK. However, most fostering services would expect you to be a full-time resident in the UK. Children from a wide range of backgrounds need fostering, so foster families usually come from all walks of life. If you are in the UK for a limited time, fostering services will take this into consideration due to the time and cost implications of approving people to foster.
- Can I foster if I have a long-term health condition?
Your health will be considered when applying to foster and any long-term conditions are taken into account. The most important factor is whether you are physically and psychologically fit enough to cope with the demands of caring for a child – this may vary depending on the age of the children that you are approved for.
- I have suffered from depression in the past, will that prevent me from fostering?
Past mental illness is not a barrier to becoming a foster carer, in fact, there is no diagnosis that can automatically prevent you fostering. However, you would need to discuss this with any fostering service that you apply to. A medical report is always sought as part of the assessment process, and you would also need to consider the impact of fostering’s emotional side on your mental health.
- Do I have to speak English to a high standard to be a foster carer?
A large number of children in foster care do not have English as a first language and being placed in a home where their first language is spoken can be very beneficial for them. You will need a good level of spoken and written English to be able to communicate with other professionals, support children’s education and make notes and keep records. If you have any particular communication needs, the fostering service should be willing to discuss this with you.
- We are a religious family, will this affect our application to foster?
It does not matter what your religion is and this should not affect your application to foster. Children should be placed with foster families that can meet their needs, including religious needs. However, you would need to consider how you would feel about discussing issues such as alternative religious beliefs or sexuality with a child, ensuring that you abide by the fostering service’s policies.
- Can I become a foster carer if one of my own children has disabilities?
You can apply to become a foster carer if one of your children has a disability. The fostering service that you apply to will want to discuss with you how you would balance the needs of any children who are placed with you with those of your own child and what the impact of having other children in their home could be on your own child.
- How will fostering affect my children?
Fostering involves the whole family and will affect your children. The children of foster carers play a key role in the fostering household and should be included in all stages of the fostering process. It can be tough for children who find themselves sharing their parents with children who have led very different lives. However, many children also say that they have enjoyed their parents’ fostering and learnt a lot from it.
Foster carers say it is important to continue making time for your own children and ensure that they still feel they are special to you. Research suggests that it is preferable to have a reasonable age gap – either way – between your children and those you foster. Some fostering services run groups that support sons and daughters of foster carers.
- Will I have a say in who I foster?
As part of the assessment to become a foster carer, it is usual to have discussions about the appropriate age range, the number of children you will be approved to foster, and any other considerations. Ideally, all placements will be well-matched and planned, but ultimately a foster carer has the right to turn down placements.
- What if we don’t get on with the children?
It is inevitable that, as foster carers, there will be some children who you find fit in better with your family. Some children will also take time to adjust to living in your home. However, if there is a real problem with a child, then it is important to discuss this with your social worker. You may find if things are not working out for you, then the child will also be feeling that this is not the right place for them.
It may be that with extra support or training, caring for that child or young person becomes easier and more enjoyable. However, sometimes, it may be best for a child to move to another foster family.
- How will fostering impact on my welfare benefits?
If you currently claim welfare benefits you are likely to be able to continue to claim while fostering. The benefits system has changed dramatically over recent years with a new benefit, Universal Credit, introduced which replaces six ‘legacy’ benefits. All fostering payments are disregarded as income for the purposes of Universal Credit. For DWP benefits such as income support, fostering payments are also disregarded as income. For HMRC benefits such as tax credits, only taxable income (any amount over the tax threshold calculated using the special tax scheme for foster carers, Qualifying Care Relief) is taken into consideration which for many foster carer is zero. Universal Credit also allows a period of eight weeks between placements where the foster carer will not be subject to any work-search requirements. Foster carers are allowed one bedroom which will not be regarded as under-occupied as per the under-occupancy rules (also known as the ‘bedroom tax’) if claiming housing benefit or Universal Credit housing element when living in social or privately rented accommodation.
- Can I foster if I have previously had financial problems?
Previous financial problems should not prevent you from fostering. You will need to be able to show that you are now financially secure enough to provide a stable home for any children who are placed with you and that you are able to manage the fostering allowances paid to you.
- Does everyone in the family need to know we have applied to foster?
Fostering involves the whole family. We would expect you to have discussed your wish to foster with all members of your household, including children. Everyone’s views are important, as are their feelings in relation to having a fostered child living with them. Your supervising social workers will talk to your children and referees about their thought in regards to you becoming a foster carer.
Our grandchildren stay with us sometimes at weekends; will I need to include them on the Expression of Interest form as a member of my household?
Yes, as they could affect such things as the age or sex of child placed with you, if you were to be approved as a foster carer.
- How much information about myself do I need to share for assessment purposes?
The assessment process is very thorough and Applicants must be prepared for the robust assessment and be transparent and honest at all times. Ask your fostering service about the checks that will have to be completed as part of the assessment process.
- Do you need to contact my ex-partner?
If you have been married previously or have had a significant relationship with another person, or have had a child together we will need to contact them to gather or confirm information. This is part of the family assessment we are required to carry out on all prospective foster carers.
- Can my own children share a bedroom so that our family can foster?
We would not consider it appropriate for your own children to move out of their existing bedroom or to share a bedroom so that you can foster. All children that are fostered have to have their own bedroom for their sole us, this also applies to link family and respite carer providers.
- We hope to move house/build an extension/convert the loft in the next few months; can we apply to become foster carers?
As part of the ‘fostering assessment’ we will need to visit your home to see if it is suitable for fostering. We would not be able to proceed with your application until all major building work has been carried out or you are settled into your new home. We also ask that you have no plans to move home within 12 months of a child being placed with you.
- I have a pond in my garden; will this prevent me from fostering?
Ponds will need to be either filled in or have a solid cover to prevent children from falling in. We carry out a health and safety check to identify other risks as part of the fostering assessment.
My son who lives with us smokes; will this affect our application?
If anyone in your house smokes, you cannot be considered to care for children under five years. This also includes people who only smoke occasionally. If you are in the process of quitting, you will need to consult your GP and provide evidence that you have given up smoking for at least a year prior to your application.
My partner was cautioned in relation to an offence when he was 16 years old; do I need to inform you of this?
We must carry out a number of checks on potential foster carers. This includes whether anyone in your household has any criminal convictions or cautions. All household members have to have a compulsory enhanced DBS check.
When carrying out checks we are made aware of all past criminal records, these include offences as a juvenile or under 18 years. Please note that not all criminal convictions will prevent you from becoming a foster carer, however, there are certain offences that will, for example, offences against children.
- I would like to give up work and foster full-time but need an income; is this possible?
Most Fostering Agencies can’t guarantee an income, however Evergreen Foster Care does guarantee a reduced allowance if you find yourself in a situation when you don’t have a child in placement. We don’t advise anyone to give up work until you have been approved by our Agency Decision Maker and we will help you to plan the transition from your current job to that of a Foster Carer. The reduced allowance will also give you a good indication if you could financially survive if you found yourself in a situation when a foster child wasn’t living with you.
- I am single and have never had children of my own; can I still foster?
We have a wide range of foster carers who all have different family and personal circumstances. Many carers are single (male and female), some have not had children of their own. There are many one parent families who successfully bring up children on their own. We do however look at what experience they have had that will bring the skill base required to become a foster carer within out service, for example, work with challenging children, supporting a relative with challenging situations in regards to their children, professional roles that bring skills of relevance, i.e., nursing, teaching, nursery nurse, support worker.
- Do I have to have regular medical assessments to become a foster carer?
Yes this is correct, the cost of this is the agencies responsibility and the medical is made up of a self-assessment medical questionnaire and medical examination to ensure you are fit to foster.
- We are a same sex couple; can we be considered as foster carers?
Yes, we welcome same sex couples to foster our young people.
Am I too young/old to foster?
You will need to be over 21 years old before you can apply to foster. There is no upper age limit in relation to fostering. We will carry out regular checks (including medical) to determine your fitness and ability to care for a child.
- Our son/daughter is at university/college; can we use their bedroom for a fostered child?
We do not expect your son/daughter to give up their room to allow you to foster, as they are likely to return for at least part of the time.
- I was made bankrupt last year; can I still apply to foster?
With all bankruptcies there is a period defined when you are not able to set up another business. All foster carers are now classed as self-employed and as such we would not be in a position to consider you as a foster carer until the stipulated time has lapsed.
- My partner and I are currently receiving fertility treatment; can we apply to foster?
The period during and after fertility treatment is often a very stressful and emotional time. We would not consider any application to become a foster carer immediately before, during or immediately after fertility treatment. If applicants have received fertility treatment in the past, this will be fully discussed and explored as part of our assessment process.
- Can I foster if my own children have been subject to child protection plans or have been removed for any period of time from my care by a Local Authority have concerns about their care?
No this would not be advised, and we would not be able to proceed with your application, as part of the checks we conduct we speak to social care about any family involvement.
- Do I need to have IT skills to become a foster carer?
You must have good IT skills and have access to a PC or tablet and be prepared to use IT to complete all documentation. Evergreen Foster Care use a secure recording system which is called Box, all reporting and recording documents will be stored here. We will also have an expectation that you are confident in the use of emails, Word, and Excel. We will provide additional training specifically for all of the information we expect you to record and timescales.
- Can I work when the child is at school?
Evergreen Foster Care provides all their children with a guaranteed school placement (subject to the local authority agreement) which would mean that in principle the main foster carer could work part time, however, Evergreen Foster Care expects the main foster carer to attend fortnightly 4 hour training and development sessions (10am-2pm), attend regular therapy sessions, and routine meetings for the child, so it is impracticable to try to work alongside this. Evergreen Foster Care offers a professional allowance to take all of this into account, so it shouldn’t be necessary to work on top of this role. If you are struggling financially, you must discuss this with your supervising social worker.
- Can my partner continue their job?
Yes of course but there will be an expectation that they attend some training and support sessions.
- Can we foster more than one child?
All of our placement are solo placements. You can have your own dependent children and a child would be carefully matched alongside. Evergreen Foster Care understands that children moving from children’s homes are more likely to succeed to if they are the only foster child in placement.
- Do I need to take the child for contact with their families?
Yes there is an expectation that you would support children to and from their contact and at the contact when this is advised, but we also understand how hard this can be, so we provide full training to the foster carer, so they are confident that they can manage this, and it is supported in the best way. We know that foster placements who have a good relationship with birth families are more likely to have successful foster placements.
- Does the child have to have the 65 days per year respite?
Yes the respite forms part of the part of the support package for every child accessing Evergreen Foster care and is required to be promoted by every foster family as both carers and children themselves will value this respite and this will be for every child and where possible with the same respite carers for consistency.
- Where will the foster child go to school?
It is anticipated that the children we are placing in Evergreen Foster Care will attend one of our schools (subject to the agreement of the Local Authority) but if the child is already settled in their current school, we will continue facilitate this and match them to carers that live close by.
I have recently attended the pre-approval Skills to Foster Training (July 2020) with Evergreen and i can honestly say that it was really useful. I was nervous at first as i wasn’t 100% sure i wanted to foster but the trainers Louise and Clare really made me feel welcome and at home and they made sure that we had the information we needed to continue with out fostering journey
I have never known a fostering agency provide some much support to their carers and we can’t wait to become part of the team!
I wasn’t sure about fostering but i liked the idea of becoming a respite carer and see how i got on. Following the pre-approval training (July 2020) i have now changed my mind, and i would like to progress to full time. I haven’t know an agency who offers so many different packages.
To all the teachers and other people who helped me.
Thank you for getting me through a school year.
You are the best school and class that I have ever been in. When I first came to school I was a bit shy but I soon realised that you were all welcoming and very understanding. I absolutely love this school and class and I could never have asked for a better family than you guys.
I wish Evergreen existed when I lived at Hopedale because they would have supported me and found me the right family to live with. The staff are great because they listen to what you want, and they understand the problems you have had in your life, then they try to give you ways to cope in the future. I lived at Hopedale for 6 years and I was desperate to move into foster care. I hope this gives other children like me, the opportunities I didn’t have.
I lived at Hopedale for 4 years and then they helped me to move into foster care. At first I was worried about leaving Hopedale, but I still come to the school and get to see my friends, so I’m very happy with how things have turned out. I still meet with the therapist once a week so she can continue to help me with my struggles. I like living in a family again.
Ex- residential pupil
As an employee at Hopedale I am very excited to hear that Evergreen will be opening soon. Evergreen will open exciting opportunities for some of the children we have living at Hopedale, they will be given the opportunity to be placed with a foster family who will be equipped with the level of knowledge and share the same amount of love that the staff have here at Hopedale for the children. I am looking forward to seeing the children start their new adventures in life, as they deserve the best.
Employee at Hopedale
When I started working at Hopedale, X was one of the first children that I helped to move in. In the last 3 years I have observed his confidence grow and he has developed hobbies and interests, such as theatre school and dance, which I know X was shy about attending at first. However , Hopedale encouraged him to be himself and now he is thriving and absolutely ready to live in a family. X’s foster carers should look forward to the years ahead.
Currently employee at Hopedale
To everyone who went above and beyond for T.
Thank you so much.
Social Worker of a young person who lived at Hopedale for 5 years
Thank you for taking care of J and supporting his move to his forever family.
Parent of an ex-residential pupil
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