Can I foster?

We receive lots of questions about fostering criteria and eligibility for fostering. People often want to foster children but think they will not be considered due to their circumstances. We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions below. But if you have any other questions or concerns, please do get in touch using our form or call 01603 559255.

I’m not married. Does this matter?

Not at all. We welcome applications from married couples, co-habiting couples, Civil Partnerships and single people. We need carers from different backgrounds to complement the diverse backgrounds of the children we need to foster.

I’m in my late 50s. Am I too old to foster?

No. As long as you are in good health and fit enough to care for children, you can apply. The experience that comes with age can be a great asset.

I live in a rented house. Can I foster?

Yes. Many foster carers live in rented properties. You may need to let your landlord know that you are planning on fostering. The most important thing is that you have a spare room.

I have a criminal record. Will this prevent me fostering?

Not necessarily. We would discuss the record and the circumstances with you. Some offences would prevent you becoming a foster carer, others would not. It is important that you let us know about any past offences when you apply.

I am gay. Can I apply to foster?

Yes. We welcome applications from gay, bisexual and heterosexual applicants. We assess your experience and ability to care, not your sexuality.

I’ve not had my own children. Can I apply?

Yes. We will look at what other experience you’ve had of caring for children. This could be through other family, work or voluntary activities. We provide training in caring for children as part of the application process. We would need to check with you that it is fostering rather than adoption you are looking to do.

Am I too young to foster?

In law, the minimum age is 18 in England and Wales, 21 in Scotland. Most agencies like you to have some life experience. In general, we prefer applicants to be over the age of 21, nearer to their mid-twenties and above. However, we do look at each application in its own right. If you have significant experience of looking after children, or of foster care itself, either you were fostered or your parents foster, this can make a difference.

Do I have to give up my job to foster?

No, but it’s often helpful if the main carer in a fostering household is available at all times. We cannot ask that you give up work to foster but it may limit the children you can look after.

Many children are not in school when they first come into care. There are a number of meetings you will be expected to attend with Social Workers, health services etc., as well as regular training sessions which are usually held during office hours. It may be difficult to manage these if you work full time as well.

We pay our carers a comprehensive allowance when they have a child placed with them. This covers the cost of looking after a child and reflects that you may choose to foster rather than carry out another job. This allowance should not normally affect other benefits you may receive. For the most part, foster carers pay little or no tax on their allowance.

Get in touch

This information will only be used to process your expression of interest within AFA as a potential foster carer and will not be shared with any 3rd party.

Already a foster carer?

We’d love to hear from experienced foster carers too. Find out more about transferring fostering agency.