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What are the Barriers to Fostering?

If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent and wonder if there are any barriers to fostering, you’re in the right place. We are busting the common myths about fostering requirements, the application process, support and financials.

July 3 2024 - 6 min read

Myth Busting the Barriers to Fostering

When you are considering a fostering career, it is good to be in the know about barriers you may face when applying. However, the internet offers a lot of conflicting information. So, we've compiled all the common myths into one post to help reduce confusion and hopefully answer some of your most burning questions.

Requirements for Fostering Myths

There is an age limit to foster

There is no upper age limit for fostering. At Fosterplus, we welcome foster parents from the age of 21 upwards. Fostering requires energy and commitment, so as long as you are in a good state of physical and mental well-being, there is no reason why you can't become a foster parent later in life. As part of your fostering assessment, your GP will evaluate your physical and mental health to confirm that you can keep up with the demands of fostering and to ensure fostering won't negatively impact your well-being.

You can’t foster if you have a disability or mental health condition

If you have a disability or mental health condition, you can still foster. The check-up you have with your GP as part of the assessment process will help us understand your condition and its impact on your ability to perform your role. The check-up is also for you, helping you to ensure fostering won't negatively affect your health.

You can’t foster if you rent or have a lodger

Owning your own home is not a requirement for fostering. Foster parents can live in privately rented or council-owned accommodation, but permission may need to be sought from the landlord before you apply.

As part of the safeguarding process, if you have a lodger, they will also need to be assessed as part of your fostering application, as will anyone living in your home over 18 (16 in Scotland). Safeguarding checks ensure that looked-after children and young people have a stable and nurturing home safe from harm.

There aren’t any foster care bedroom requirements

False! Children aged three and over must have their own bedroom. When you apply to become a foster parent, the assessment isn't age-specific and successful applicants can care for children aged 0 -18. So, you must have a spare bedroom. The bedroom must also adhere to criteria to ensure suitability for the children or young people you foster. For example, the bedroom must be decent sized - box rooms may not be appropriate - have a window that allows plenty of natural light, a door that closes, a radiator, generous storage and a desk.

In some circumstances, same-sex fostered siblings may share a room if it is deemed appropriate and in the best interest of the children.

You can only foster if you are a heterosexual couple

False! Your sexual orientation, gender identity, or relationship status will not impact your ability to become a foster parent. We welcome foster parents from all walks of life, and diversity in fostering is crucial to finding stable matches between foster parents and children and young people. Not only that, LGBTQIA+ foster parents can further support children and young people in exploring and understanding their identity.

You can’t foster if you have pets

You can foster if you have pets. Pets can be beneficial to children and young people in the foster home. The power of pets can help children and young people settle in, provide comfort, reduce stress and encourage physical activity.

As part of your fostering application, the pet assessment will evaluate the pets living in your home and their suitability to be around children and young people. Talk to your supervising social worker if you are already fostering and want to adopt a new pet.

You can’t foster unless you drive

Being able to drive is not compulsory for fostering, but it can make life easier. You'll need access to reliable transport to take the child in your care to appointments and family time. You'll also need to make arrangements to attend local events and foster parent support groups to enhance your experience.

The Fostering Application Process Myths

The fostering application is complicated

The fostering application may seem daunting, but at Fosterplus, we support you through every step so that you can welcome your first child in as little as 4 - 6 months. We have divided the process into six simple steps to make it more manageable and less overwhelming:

  • Initial enquiry - Say hello to our friendly team by giving us a call and having a non-obligation chat. If you'd like a more in-depth conversation, we'll organise a home visit to suit your availability.
  • Home visit - a chance for you to get to know Fosterplus, learn more about a foster parent's role and ask any questions. We'll ask why you are considering a fostering profession and explain the application process in detail.
  • Application - If you're happy and want to proceed, you'll begin your application. Your application will ask questions like why do you want to foster? And you'll need to fill in personal details, such as your career history and home life.
  • Fostering assessment - If our assessment manager is happy with your application, you'll begin your assessment. You'll be assigned a dedicated social worker and go through this process together. It will include multiple home visits where your social worker will ask in-depth questions about your life so they can complete what is called a Form F report. We'll complete some background checks, a DBS, and contact references, and you'll attend initial foster training.
  • Fostering panel - The fostering panel will interview you and assess the information provided in Form F to determine your suitability to foster. If you're approved, they'll also supply terms of your approval, such as placement type.
  • Welcoming your first child - You've been approved! Our referral teams will work with you to find the right match so you can begin providing a loving and nurturing home for children and young people. We are renowned for our thorough matching process, and work carefully alongside you to ensure we find the right child for your family so you can have the best experience possible.

The fostering application is designed to catch you out

The application process isn't about catching you out; it's about gaining insight into your life so we can provide stability and certainty to children and young people who need it most.

At Fosterplus, we pride ourselves on providing security and continuity for children and young people who may have experienced adverse childhood experiences. Our robust application process helps us find compatible matches between children and foster parents so children can begin to thrive in a stable environment. Paying attention to detail is crucial for finding suitable foster parents. The application isn't just for us; it's for you too. It gives you time to understand what fostering means and how it could impact your life.

A bad reference from an ex-partner will rule me out

During the assessment process, we will request references from any significant previous partners. However, we understand that many past relationships end on difficult terms so take this into account if a negative reference is received. If you are concerned that an ex-partner could provide a bad reference, talk to your assessing social worker. If a previous relationship was abusive and contacting the partner could impact your emotional well-being, the relationship will be verified in another way. Reference requests can be complicated under difficult circumstances, and whether that results in a negative one or no response at all, your assessing social worker will be by your side throughout the process and will always be happy to help.

You can’t switch foster agencies

False. There are various reasons why you may decide to switch foster agencies; for example, you may not receive adequate support or enough referrals. If you are considering transferring, clarify with yourself what you would like from a foster agency. By doing so, when you begin researching, you will know which questions to ask and whether that foster agency will meet your needs.

At Fosterplus, we simplify and fast-track the transfer process, assisting and supporting you every step of the way. We aim to have the process complete and transferring foster parents approved within three months. If you are thinking about transferring to Fosterplus, make an enquiry with our team today.

Download our Guide to Fostering

Discover everything you need to know about fostering by downloading our brochure.

Foster Care Support and Training Myths

You need qualifications to foster

You don't need any qualifications to foster because you'll receive all the training you need through Fosterplus. However, if you have qualifications, experience, and transferable skills from previous careers or parenting of birth children, it is beneficial to highlight these in your application. Many people find that there are many life experiences they can draw upon and that they possess many transferable skills that help them with the fostering role.

Additionally, the thought of looking after children with additional needs is overwhelming. However, we prepare you with an extensive training programme that helps you understand the underlying reasons for a child or young person's behaviour. There are many areas covered by our courses, from mental health to specific health conditions and behaviour management techniques.

At Fosterplus, you'll receive extensive training both online and in person. Our training includes:

  • Prepare to foster training - Completed during your assessment, this training will give you a clearer insight into what it is like to be a foster parent. You'll complete courses like safeguarding and child development and have an opportunity to speak to experienced foster parents.
  • Core training - Completed once you're approved, our core training is essential training on topics such as behaviour, safer care and first aid.
  • Specialist training - If you have a child in your care with a disability, mental health condition or specific need, this training will give you a greater breadth of knowledge and understanding.

Foster parents aren’t supported

Support for foster parents is fundamental to achieving continuity and long-lasting matches with foster children. At Fosterplus, we support you from the moment you enquire about fostering. We take you through the process and then are on hand for any support you need on your journey. The support we offer includes:

  • Dedicated social worker - Your social worker will get to know you, be available to answer any questions or concerns and help you access our support and services.
  • Out of hours - No matter the time, day or night, we support you 24/7.
  • Online Resources - You'll have access to our portal, packed with information and resources to assist you.
  • Matching experts - Stable homes are the key to achieving positive outcomes, so we have highly experienced referral officers who match children and young people with suitable foster parents.
  • Support groups - Our support groups provide a safe space for foster parents to share their experiences and learn from one another.
  • Local events and activities - Each centre organises local events and activities for the whole family to enjoy, creating a community you can lean on.
foster children at school

Foster parents don’t influence education

As a foster parent, you play a crucial role in the schooling of the children and young people you care for. When a child or young person begins to live with you, they'll have a care plan that includes their education. They may continue to attend their current school or need to move schools. Either way, as a foster parent, you are responsible for ensuring your child or young person receives an adequate education whilst in your care. You'll need to be proactive and will have responsibilities such as:

  • Talking to the school to ensure the child's situation is understood.
  • Ensuring that the child's school is providing efficient support.
  • Taking the child to school and/or ensuring they attend every day.
  • Encouraging academic achievement with positive reinforcement and accessing further resources when necessary.
  • Applying for SEN assessments if and when needed, for example, if you think the child has dyslexia.
  • Creating a routine that enables the child to complete their homework and help them if needed.
  • Take steps to tackle bullying.
  • Keep up with the child's progress by attending parent's evenings and, when required, requesting more frequent updates.

Fostering Pay Myths

Fostering pay only covers expenses

Fostering allowances are divided into two parts. The first is a child allowance that covers expenses such as bills, food, clothing, etc. The second is a professional fee that rewards your hard work and dedication with a generous finance and rewards package. Fostering allowances depend on various factors, including:

  • The age of the child or young person.
  • The number of children or young people you care for.
  • Your region.
  • If you have any prior experience.
  • If the child has any additional needs.

You can use our finance calculator for an estimate, but you can contact us for a more accurate figure.

Not only this, you'll have access to some fantastic discounts and rewards from hundreds of retailers.

Foster parents are taxed more

As a foster parent, you will benefit from Qualifying Care Relief, a fostering tax allowance that often exempts you from paying tax on your fostering income. Qualifying Care Relief means you don't pay tax on income up to £18,140 per year plus £375 per week for children under 11 and £450 per week for children over 11.

Example –

At the end of the financial year, Laurence has been fostering two children aged 5 and 13 for the past 52 weeks.

His annual fostering income = £50,000

Annual tax allowance = £18,140

Weekly relief = 825 x 52 = £42,900

Total tax allowance for the year = £61,040

Laurence's income is below the threshold for tax, which means he would not need to pay tax on his fostering income for this financial year.

new foster dads

You can’t foster if you have another job

Working and fostering can work; however, as a foster parent, you will have commitments, such as training, appointments, family time and more. With this in mind, if you decide to work and foster, your job will need to offer some flexibility and understanding of your situation because the child or young person in your care is the main priority.

If you decide to work and foster, you'll receive your personal tax allowance and Qualifying Care Relief.

Example -

At the end of the financial year, David has been fostering one child aged 4 for the past 52 weeks. He also works part-time.

Income from job = £9,500

His annual fostering income = £25,000

Annual tax allowance = £18,140

Weekly relief = £375 x 52 = 19,500

Total fostering tax allowance = £37,640

Total personal allowance = £12,570

David's fostering income and income from his part-time job are below the tax threshold, so he won't need to pay tax.

You can’t foster if you receive the state pension

You can foster when you are receiving the state pension, and your fostering income won't impact your state pension because, like working whilst you foster, you will still receive your personal tax allowance in addition to Qualifying Care Relief.

Example –

Joan is receiving the full new state pension and fostering two children, aged 11 and 14, who have been with her for the past 52 weeks.

State Pension = £11,502

Personal Tax Allowance = £12,570

Fostering Income = £50,000

Annual tax allowance = £18,140

Weekly relief = £900 x 52 = £42,800

Total fostering tax allowance = £60,940

Joan's pension is below her personal tax allowance, and her fostering income is below her fostering tax allowance due to Qualifying Care Relief, so she won't need to pay tax for this financial year.

You won’t receive your full state pension if you foster

As a foster parent, you won't lose your state pension. Foster parents can apply for National Insurance Credits by completing a CF411A form and submitting a letter from Fosterplus as proof of fostering. You'll need to do this once a year.

You will lose your benefits if you start fostering

If you claim means-tested benefits, such as universal credit, income support or housing benefits, your fostering income will not be considered income, so your benefits won't be affected. When you claim benefits like universal credit, for example, they usually have terms and conditions called 'claimant commitments'. These terms detail whether you must look for work or attend work-focussed interviews. You'll also be eligible to claim contributory-based benefits, such as jobseekers allowance, but these depend on your National Insurance contributions.

You can't claim child benefits for children in your care; you can only claim child benefits for your own children.

Our fostering and benefits page has further information on claiming benefits whilst fostering.

Every foster parent is unique and can offer so much to children and young people in care. We hope this post has helped you realise that fostering is more accessible than ever. So, if you want more information on becoming a foster parent or are ready to start fostering, contact us today.

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