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Fostering FAQs

Fostering can sometimes be a daunting subject and you may have many questions about the different aspects of fostering a child. Our FAQ pages are here to address the most commonly asked questions we receive, so that you can find out everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

Our questions cover a wide range of topics including finance, eligibility and the different types of fostering placements. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 434 6000 and our fostering advisors will be happy to help.

Our most frequently asked questions

What checks are carried out?

In order to find out if fostering is right for you, we’ll carry out a number of checks on you and your home. These are nothing to worry about and include:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS – formally CRB) checks on everyone in the house over 16 (except in Scotland)
  • Checks with your local authority or health trust social work service
  • Checks with the education department
  • Checks with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) which lists those prevented from working with children
  • A standard safeguarding check on your home

We will also request references from previous employers and two people who have known you for longer than two years.

Will a criminal conviction prevent me from fostering?

A criminal conviction won’t always prevent you from being a foster carer – it depends on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. We carry out police checks as part of our application process, but advise you to declare and discuss any convictions early on.

Who can apply to become a foster carer?

Anyone can apply to foster with us. We welcome foster carers from all walks of life; no matter what your gender, age, race or sexual orientation. We do have four criteria though:

  • You need a spare room
  • You need to be over 21
  • You need to commit to fostering full time
  • You need to have British Citizenship or permanent leave to stay in the UK

What type of company is FCA?

We are proud to be the UK’s largest independent fostering agency. Importantly, we are still owned and run by the people who founded us over 20 years ago. What this means is that our founders’ original vision and values, which put the interests of the children and young people at the heart of the organisation, are central to everything we do.

We have never sold out to investors or equity-backed firms, creating certainty and stability for all of our carers.

Private equity companies manage funds on behalf of wealthy individuals or institutional investors and invest them in a range of businesses seeking to maximise the return for their investors. Their focus is often on tight cost control with a short term focus of selling the business on for a profit within a few years. This can adversely impact the carer experience as the financial needs of owners can be put ahead of others.

Without shareholders or private equity investors, we don’t have to focus on generating a return for them, but instead remain committed to our social mission to make a positive and lasting difference to children, families and communities. This has enabled us to invest continuously over the years into developing services, infrastructures and support to ensure that we have the capability to offer best in class services both to our carers and the children and young people that we look after.

What is fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing a safe and stable family home for a child or young person who can’t live with their birth family. There are many reasons why children need foster care and many types of placement you can provide.

If I’m going to be the main foster carer, do you need to carry out checks on my partner as well?

At FCA, we believe that everyone over the age of 16 has a huge role to play in fostering. All couples living together will be partners in fostering so both will need to have the necessary checks. Children who foster also have a hugely important role so we’ll need to carry out checks on any of your own children over the age of 16.

Can I still work and be a foster carer?

One of our criteria for foster care is that one foster carer in the household is at home on a full time basis. This is to ensure that a child or young person in your care is looked after in the best way possible.

In some cases though, it’s still possible for you to continue working in some capacity. This will depend on your individual circumstances and will need to be discussed with one of our social workers. To find out more, give us a call on 0800 434 6000

How long will I have to wait for my first placement?

The time in between getting approved and having your first placement will vary from person to person. You can begin taking placements right away, but we’ll always try and match you with the best possible placement based on your assessment and approval.

How much will I know about the child or young person before the placement starts?

We try to give you as much information as we can when we discuss a potential placement with you. All the information we have is provided by the local authority, and we’ll try and find out as much as possible to help you decide whether to accept a placement or not.

Can I choose how long I want a child or young person to stay with me?

During the assessment process, we’ll sit down with you to discuss what types of fostering will suit you best. It isn’t always possible to know exactly how long a child will stay with you, but we’ll keep you updated as much as we can.

Do I get any extra help if I take on a child who has special needs or a disability?

We understand that fostering a child with disabilities can be challenging, which is why we’ll provide you with all the additional training, support and specialist equipment you need to care for them in the best way possible.

Who is responsible for taking foster children to school or the doctors?

As a foster carer, you have responsibility for these day-to-day tasks; the school run and doctor’s trips included. Should you have a problem on an odd occasion, your supervising social worker can help you make alternative arrangements.

Will I pay tax on my earnings?

Foster carers are classed as self-employed which means you’re entitled to tax relief on your income. You could pay very little or no tax or national insurance, depending on your own financial circumstances. Visit our Tax and Benefits page to find out more.

How can we help?

Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.

  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in your area.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 434 6000 (lines open Monday - Friday: 9am - 8pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we're here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

For all other general enquiries, please call 0800 085 225.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in you area
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 434 6000 (lines open Monday - Friday: 9am - 8pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we,re here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

For all other general enquiries, please call 0800 085 225.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Fostering FAQs

Fostering can sometimes be a daunting subject and you may have many questions about the different aspects of fostering a child. Our FAQ pages are here to address the most commonly asked questions we receive, so that you can find out everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

Our questions cover a wide range of topics including finance, eligibility and the different types of fostering placements. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 434 6000 and our fostering advisors will be happy to help.

Our most frequently asked questions

What checks are carried out?

In order to find out if fostering is right for you, we’ll carry out a number of checks on you and your home. These are nothing to worry about and include:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS – formally CRB) checks on everyone in the house over 16 (except in Scotland)
  • Checks with your local authority or health trust social work service
  • Checks with the education department
  • Checks with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) which lists those prevented from working with children
  • A standard safeguarding check on your home

We will also request references from previous employers and two people who have known you for longer than two years.

Will a criminal conviction prevent me from fostering?

A criminal conviction won’t always prevent you from being a foster carer – it depends on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. We carry out police checks as part of our application process, but advise you to declare and discuss any convictions early on.

Who can apply to become a foster carer?

Anyone can apply to foster with us. We welcome foster carers from all walks of life; no matter what your gender, age, race or sexual orientation. We do have four criteria though:

  • You need a spare room
  • You need to be over 21
  • You need to commit to fostering full time
  • You need to have British Citizenship or permanent leave to stay in the UK

What type of company is FCA?

We are proud to be the UK’s largest independent fostering agency. Importantly, we are still owned and run by the people who founded us over 20 years ago. What this means is that our founders’ original vision and values, which put the interests of the children and young people at the heart of the organisation, are central to everything we do.

We have never sold out to investors or equity-backed firms, creating certainty and stability for all of our carers.

Private equity companies manage funds on behalf of wealthy individuals or institutional investors and invest them in a range of businesses seeking to maximise the return for their investors. Their focus is often on tight cost control with a short term focus of selling the business on for a profit within a few years. This can adversely impact the carer experience as the financial needs of owners can be put ahead of others.

Without shareholders or private equity investors, we don’t have to focus on generating a return for them, but instead remain committed to our social mission to make a positive and lasting difference to children, families and communities. This has enabled us to invest continuously over the years into developing services, infrastructures and support to ensure that we have the capability to offer best in class services both to our carers and the children and young people that we look after.

What is fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing a safe and stable family home for a child or young person who can’t live with their birth family. There are many reasons why children need foster care and many types of placement you can provide.

If I’m going to be the main foster carer, do you need to carry out checks on my partner as well?

At FCA, we believe that everyone over the age of 16 has a huge role to play in fostering. All couples living together will be partners in fostering so both will need to have the necessary checks. Children who foster also have a hugely important role so we’ll need to carry out checks on any of your own children over the age of 16.

Can I still work and be a foster carer?

One of our criteria for foster care is that one foster carer in the household is at home on a full time basis. This is to ensure that a child or young person in your care is looked after in the best way possible.

In some cases though, it’s still possible for you to continue working in some capacity. This will depend on your individual circumstances and will need to be discussed with one of our social workers. To find out more, give us a call on 0800 434 6000

How long will I have to wait for my first placement?

The time in between getting approved and having your first placement will vary from person to person. You can begin taking placements right away, but we’ll always try and match you with the best possible placement based on your assessment and approval.

How much will I know about the child or young person before the placement starts?

We try to give you as much information as we can when we discuss a potential placement with you. All the information we have is provided by the local authority, and we’ll try and find out as much as possible to help you decide whether to accept a placement or not.

Can I choose how long I want a child or young person to stay with me?

During the assessment process, we’ll sit down with you to discuss what types of fostering will suit you best. It isn’t always possible to know exactly how long a child will stay with you, but we’ll keep you updated as much as we can.

Do I get any extra help if I take on a child who has special needs or a disability?

We understand that fostering a child with disabilities can be challenging, which is why we’ll provide you with all the additional training, support and specialist equipment you need to care for them in the best way possible.

Who is responsible for taking foster children to school or the doctors?

As a foster carer, you have responsibility for these day-to-day tasks; the school run and doctor’s trips included. Should you have a problem on an odd occasion, your supervising social worker can help you make alternative arrangements.

Will I pay tax on my earnings?

Foster carers are classed as self-employed which means you’re entitled to tax relief on your income. You could pay very little or no tax or national insurance, depending on your own financial circumstances. Visit our Tax and Benefits page to find out more.

How can we help?

Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.

  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in your area.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 434 6000 (lines open Monday - Friday: 9am - 8pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we're here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

For all other general enquiries, please call 0800 085 225.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in you area
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 434 6000 (lines open Monday - Friday: 9am - 8pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we,re here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

For all other general enquiries, please call 0800 085 225.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.