Fostering is challenging. But it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do. Providing stability, support and care in your home for a child who really needs it, and seeing that child grow and develop in your care, is enormously fulfilling.
Children in need of fostering can be any age and from different backgrounds. Many have had difficult life experiences. They need a safe, stable home environment in which to flourish.
We would love to hear from caring, resilient people who are thinking about fostering for the first time, or are already experienced foster carers. We welcome people from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, religions and social groups. We care for children of all ages, and we’re particularly keen to hear from people who can care for teenagers, sibling groups and parent and child placements.
We can help you achieve your ambition to become a great foster carer, with all the rewards fostering can bring. We carefully match children with the right foster carer for them. We are proud of the strong and supportive relationships that children develop with their foster families.
Get in touch
Already a foster carer?
We’d love to hear from experienced foster carers too. Find out more about transferring fostering agency.
How will we support you?
We have a reputation for providing unrivalled levels of support for our foster carers. Our carers receive all the training and support they need to feel confident that they are meeting the individual needs of their foster child.
Our support includes:
Find out more about why you should chose AFA Fostering to help you on your fostering journey.
Who makes a good foster carer?
Great foster carers come from all walks of life. Age, marital status, sexuality, job and background aren’t important. What matters is that you have the strengths and qualitied to make a real difference to a child’s life. To help you decide if you’ve got what it takes to be a foster carer, here are our Top 10 Foster Carer Qualities:
Experience of Living or Working with Children
You don’t need to have children of you own. But you do need experience in looking after or working with children and a genuine commitment to helping children change their lives for the better.
Resilience and Determination
Helping a child to reach their full potential is amazingly rewarding. But it can also be incredibly challenging and frustrating at times. You will need to be resilient and determined to see things through. A good sense of humour helps too!
Warmth, Openness and Honesty
As a foster carer you will need to provide a warm, caring and supportive environment where children feel welcome and safe. You will also need to be able to work openly and honestly with agencies and professionals, from the start of your assessment and throughout your fostering career.
A Good Team Player
Foster carers work as part of a team to support a child. You will need to be able to listen and communicate effectively, accept advice and support and work to agreed plans.
Willingness to Learn
Foster carers need to develop their childcare knowledge and skills to help them provide the best possible care for children. You will need to be open to learning and expected to attend regular training and support groups and use professional supervision to reflect on and discuss your approach to a child’s care.
You don’t need to have a big house, but foster children must have their own room.
Fostering is a demanding and difficult job. As well as the support we will give you, it’s important that you have emotional and practical support available from those around you.
Foster carers have to be very flexible. You will need to be able to adapt your lifestyle, routines and commitments to meet the needs of children.
Organised and Professional
Foster carers are professional. They attend meetings, complete reports and make sure there is a written record of all the important things that happen in the lives of the children they are caring for.
You will need to be able to see things from a child’s perspective. You will need to understand and work with the behaviours they may display, and provide stable and consistent care for children who may not have experience this before.
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.