There's no typical profile of a foster carer. We want to recruit a diverse range of foster carers regardless of sexuality, ethnicity, religion or marital status.
We've worked with a wide range of people - providing homes for children with heterosexual couples, same sex couples, families who already have children and single foster carers.
We particularly need foster carers who will consider fostering children of high school age, brothers and sisters so they can remain together, children with complex emotional and behavioural needs and foster carers who can offer a placement to a young parent and child.
There are few restrictions but basically you must:
- Have a spare bedroom in your home
- Be over 21
What skills and qualities does a foster carer need?
We're committed to finding the right match for all our children and families. Like any parent, as a foster carer you'll provide a safe loving and secure home for a child. You'll need patience, tolerance, energy and a high level of resilience and commitment. A sense of fun and an ability to handle difficult situations will also help.
You'll need to have good communications skills to work in partnership with other professionals, and advocate for the child where necessary. Find out more in our what skills do I need to foster video.
What skills do I need to foster video on YouTube (5mins 8secs)
Don't rule yourself out, count yourself in
When we talk to people who are thinking about fostering, we often find they rule themselves out as foster carers before they've even spoken to us.
The reality is, there's no typical foster carer. We'll try and cover the main queries people have below; but if your particular situation isn't covered, don't be shy. Pick up the phone, we'd love to speak to you.
Myth: you can be too young or too old to foster.
Reality check: by law you have to be aged 21 or over to be able to foster. There is no upper age limit, you just need to be fit and well enough to keep up with the children you're caring for.
We have foster carers in their 60s and 70s, so don't be put off by a number.
Myth: you must be in a heterosexual relationship to foster.
Reality check: we're an inclusive fostering service and encourage foster carers to come forward whether they are single, male or female, in a relationship, divorced, widowed, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+), co-habiting, married or any other possible combination you can think of.
There are no barriers based on gender, sexuality or relationship status. Children are diverse and we need a diverse foster carer community to meet their needs.
Myth: you must own your own home to foster.
Reality check: there is no requirement to own your own home. You need a stable and child friendly place to live, and whether this is rented or owned makes no difference. A spare bedroom is needed to accommodate a child living with you and we would usually discourage you from asking your birth children to share a room, if they don't already, as this can cause resentment towards a child who is then placed in what was their room.
Myth: you must have parented before to foster.
Reality check: when anyone becomes a parent for the first time, whether this is through having birth children or through fostering or adoption, they have to learn and adjust to their new role.
Even people who have parented previously find that each of their own children is an individual and may need a different approach.
So having previously parented is not a requirement to becoming a foster carer, many people have experience with children either though work, friends or extended family relationships and these are all valuable experiences.
What matters is your ability to be child centred and to embrace you new role, accepting support and guidance while you adjust to becoming a foster carer.
Myth: I have a criminal conviction so couldn't foster.
Reality check: there are very few convictions which would mean you were unable to foster. We would discuss with you the circumstances of your conviction, what happened and how long ago it took place and work out with you if it would be a barrier to fostering. Often people have been involved in some criminal activity with friends as a young adult and have moved on with their lives since then.
The reality is some of our young people get involved in anti-social behaviour or even with the police as young adults, whether they are in foster care or not. Having a foster carer with some insight into the challenges of being a teenager and that young people don't always make the right choices, can actually be a benefit and enable you to support them when they are facing challenges.
Myth: I have health problems so couldn't foster.
Reality check: part of the fostering assessment is a medical check, this is done with your own doctor and we pay any costs incurred for this.
The majority of health conditions wouldn't be a barrier to fostering. We would discuss with you how your health issue affects your daily life and work out with you what type of fostering or age of child would be the best fit for your situation.
Myth: I smoke so couldn't foster.
Reality check: smoking cigarettes is a barrier to fostering children under the age of 5 years old, this is due to the effects on children of second and third hand smoke. So if someone in your household smokes, you would be limited to caring for children aged 5+.
The use of e-cigarette is not a barrier. We'd discuss with you keeping vape liquids safely out of reach and also the impact of role modelling on children.