What is foster care

It’s Time to Start Fostering

What’s holding you back?

If you’ve ever wondered ‘why should I become a foster parent?’ then the answer is simple.

Fostering is a chance to make a real difference in a vulnerable child’s life, give back to your community, and embrace an exciting, well-paid, and rewarding new career.

So, what’s holding you back?

Why should I foster?

There are currently more than 80,000 children being looked after by local authorities in the UK. All these children need safe and secure homes where they can be loved, cared for, and nurtured. Fostering is a brilliant career choice regardless of age. It can be a natural progression from a previous career such as teaching or nursing, you might be approaching retirement but still want a professional career, or maybe you’re looking for a new purpose now your children have moved out and you have an empty nest.

It’s a great opportunity to not only start a new profession, complete with a competitive salary, development, and career progression, but to open your heart and home to a child who needs it the most.

Find your local fostering agency

Interested in fostering children in the UK? We train and support foster parents across England and Scotland, and provide positive family experiences to hundreds of children in foster care. All of our offices are rated as 'Outstanding' or 'Good' by Ofsted.

Find your local office by entering your postcode below.

Fostering as a profession

Fostering is a profession. An incredibly rewarding and challenging one at that. It’s a profession that comes with career progression and a generous salary, as well as a bunch of rewards and benefits. You will also be able to work flexibly from home and benefit from a wealth of training and development as you work alongside a team of professionals.

Whether you’re looking for a change in career in your 30s, a career change at 40, or a new career at 50, fostering is a wonderful choice if you’re passionate about changing children’s lives.

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There are so many professions that make for great foster parents, and not all of them involve working with children. Transferable skills such as teamwork, administration, good listening skills, empathy, management, perseverance, flexibility, stability, adaptability, and commitment can be of great benefit when caring for looked-after children.

While fostering is a career in itself, you might also be able to continue to work in your current role while fostering. The family dynamic is changing, and not everybody has two stable incomes.

As long as you’re able to continue meeting the needs of your young person and put their wellbeing first, it’s possible to have another job and foster. If you want to become a foster parent but feel you’d still need – or want – to work, don't be afraid to get in touch to discuss this further with one of our fostering advisors.

As fostering is such an important role, we believe our carers deserve to be paid a professional fee. You’ll receive between £349.65 - £552.65 per week, per child, depending on where you live and the type of placement you are providing, as well as a number of financial rewards and discounts.

The benefits of fostering

Fostering brings with it challenges and rewards. Your patience might be tested at times, but you will also reap emotional and beautiful moments that will last a lifetime.

If you foster with us, you will also benefit from our generous fostering allowance. While this isn’t the main reason people start fostering, it is an opportunity to make fostering your career. Our foster parents receive an allowance of between £18,182 and £28,738 per child, depending on the age of the child, the type of placement, and where you live in the UK. There are also numerous tax and national insurance benefits you will be entitled to.

There are so many amazing benefits that come with fostering, both for the child and the foster parent.

  • You will make a lasting, positive difference in a vulnerable child’s life and give them a safe and secure home.
  • You get the chance to make bonds that last a lifetime.
  • You get to learn so many new fostering skills that can be used now and in the future.
  • Your birth children can learn many important life skills, such as sharing, having empathy for others and taking on responsibilities.
  • You will be contributing to your community.
  • You’re building a fantastic new career all at the same time.
  • You can find new purpose as an empty nester.

Download our Guide to Fostering

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

how much do you get paid for respite foster care

How do you start fostering?

How to start fostering begins with research. You need to meet the basic requirements to foster and decide between fostering with a local authority or an independent agency. We’ll talk more about that a little later.

One of the most common questions prospective foster parents ask us is ‘what age can you start fostering?’ Many people think you have to be older with more experience before you can be considered to be a foster parent.

The truth is as long as you are over 21, have the legal right to live and work in the UK, and have a spare bedroom, then you already meet the basic requirements to be a foster parent. And the great news is there is no upper age limit to fostering. As long as you have the energy to keep up with a child, you could apply to start fostering today.

This is why many people who have reached retirement age, or those whose own children have left home, feel the desire to foster. Working with children is an incredibly fulfilling role, and it doesn’t have to end just because your children have grown up and moved out

Should I foster or adopt?

The main difference between fostering and adoption is that while fostering is often temporary, with placements lasting from just a few days to several years, adoption is a permanent arrangement, where the child becomes an official part of your family.

The choice of whether to foster or adopt is completely personal and depends on your circumstances. In both situations, there are a couple of similarities between fostering and adoption. The first is you want to give a child in need a safe home where they can thrive and have a positive future, and the second is both require thorough application processes and assessments.

With fostering, however, you do have more flexibility. You can choose from the different types of fostering - whether it’s short or long-term, emergency or parent and child, and many more. This might help you decide whether or not adopting a child permanently is the right path for you and your family. Foster parents are self-employed and also benefit from significant tax relief, on top of 24/7 support, ongoing training and a competitive fostering allowance.

How long does it take to start fostering?

Once you’ve made the decision to start your fostering journey, you’ll begin the fostering process.

The first step is to complete an online enquiry form (or you can just give us a call). It’s super quick and easy and just lets us know you’re interested in becoming a foster parent. If you want to take things further, then we’ll guide you on the next steps. These include:

  • A home visit to talk about the role in more detail and find out a little more about you.
  • Completing an application form for our assessment manager to review. If happy to proceed, you’ll move on to the next step.
  • A fostering assessment, which includes social work visits, background checks, personal and professional references, and some initial training.
  • Next is the fostering panel. This is the final step in the process, where an independent panel of fostering professionals and care leavers review your assessment. Following this, they’ll give their recommendation for approval to our Agency Decision Maker.
  • Once you are approved, we’ll work together throughout the matching process. We take a lot of care to match foster families with children, because the right match brings much needed stability to a child’s life and ensures a successful fostering placement for you and the child.

In total, the fostering assessment period can take around 4-6 months, and you’ll be able to take part in training along the way to make sure you’re ready for when your foster child arrives.

Which fostering agency should I choose?

When making the decision to foster, we’re sure you have a lot of questions.

And that’s a good thing. Deciding to foster is a big one, and no question is bigger than which fostering agency should I choose?

From going with a local authority to an independent fostering agency (IFA) like Fosterplus, there is a lot to consider. Some important questions to ask are:

  • What support networks are available?
  • Is the agency local to where I live?
  • Does the agency have a good Ofsted rating?
  • What are the different types of fostering the agency caters to?
  • Can I take breaks from fostering?
  • What are the fostering allowances like?
  • Are there any additional benefits offered?
  • How comprehensive is the training offered and is it ongoing?

Independent agencies tend to have more time to devote to their foster parents, as we focus purely on fostering, whereas local authorities have a large remit and different areas to cover. This means we're able to give our undivided attention to the children in our care and our amazing foster parents. IFAs can usually offer a higher level of training, guidance, and support, as well as a bigger fostering allowance. At Fosterplus, we also have a wealth of rewards, discounts, and benefits for foster parents to take advantage of and make their lives a little easier.

There are many different types of fostering that can help you progress in your career, including specialist placements such as parent and child fostering and fostering sanctuary-seeking children. At Fosterplus, we also place a number of children who have had a traumatic start in life, and you can be key in changing their lives for the better.

Additionally, when you foster with us, you’ll never be alone. No matter the time, day or night, or whatever the challenge may be, we’re here for you 24/7. We’ll work together to help your foster child heal and grow, and our careful matching process ensures the right children are placed with the right foster parents so you can enjoy a positive and fulfiling fostering career.

Are you ready to start fostering?

As well as being a wonderfully fulfilling profession, with lots of potential for progression and growth, fostering is an important role that truly changes lives.

If you’re ready to start fostering, or if you have any questions about the process, then give our friendly team at Fosterplus a call.

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