Fostering questions and answers

Who can become a carer?

We are seeking to recruit a range of families to join our pool of experienced foster carers. We want to make sure that every child who needs to be placed is suitably matched with a family which can meet the child’s individual needs. It is important for us to recruit foster carers who have a variety and breadth of knowledge, skills and experience, which will help them to meet the children’s complex needs. We will work alongside you, preparing and supporting you to provide what the children need.

People who foster for Worcestershire County Council are all different – We are looking for people who are:

  • over 21
  • married, single or in a partnership, including a same sex relationship
  • any race or ethnic origin
  • in or out of work
  • practising a religion, or not
  • disabled or non-disabled
  • living in their own home or rented accommodation, but must have a spare bedroom available

Do I have to have a spare room?

Children in foster care do need to have their own room so creating space for this needs to be considered. Although your children may be happy to share with siblings now and give up a room for a foster child, this will often create a problem so is not advisable. Part of the assessment will be to consider your accommodation and a spare bedroom will be necessary when the child is ready to move in, therefore you need to consider how you can facilitate this in your home.

I’m 56 am I too old to foster?

The youngest age at which you can foster is 21: there is no upper age limit. However you will need energy and stamina to keep up with the children or young people placed with you. People of all ages can, and do successfully foster.

Can I foster if I live in rented accommodation?

You can foster whether you are renting or own your own home – just as long as you can provide a secure and stable environment for a child or children. Each foster child will need their own bedroom, as it is important for each child to have their own space.

I’m not married can I foster?

Yes. You can foster whether you are single, living with a partner or divorced.

Can I foster if I’m in a same sex relationship?

Yes. Worcestershire County Council needs to attract foster carers from a wide variety of backgrounds in order to meet the needs of the children. We encourage all sections of the community to consider fostering, value diversity and are committed to equality of opportunity.

Can I foster if I smoke?

Worcestershire County Council’s policy states that children should not be placed in a smoking household when they are under 5 years old, disabled or suffering from heart disease, glue ear or respiratory problems such as asthma. Guidelines state that an individual cannot be classed as a non-smoker until they have been given-up for a minimum of 12 months. Children older than 5 can be placed in smoking households, but foster carers are required to smoke outside only.

Are there lots of checks?

We will carry a variety of checks to make sure we don’t appoint people who have history of violence, or convictions for crimes in particular against children – for example a full Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check will be done. You will be required to undergo a medical check to ensure you are fit enough to care for children. We will also contact any previous Local Authority where you have lived to see if you have had any previous involvement with Social Services. If you have children living at home, we will obtain school references (and health visitor references). If you have ever worked with children or vulnerable adults we will need a reference from each employer and we require a reference from you current employer. We contact all referees by letters and telephone. These checks may seem intrusive; however they are essential – we must make sure that foster children are kept safe from harm whilst in our care.

I have no previous experience of fostering children does this matter?

No. Previous experience of fostering is necessary but knowledge and experience of dealing with children or young people is vital. This experience may have been gained from raising your own children, or indeed from working with children in an educational or childcare environment. There is a lot of support and training available for first time foster carers.

I’m out of work can I still foster?

Yes. We welcome people from all backgrounds, regardless of their employment or financial status.

Can I continue to work outside the home?

Yes. Just as long as you can provide time and space as these are important to a child, especially when they are young. We would expect a foster carer to be at home if they care for pre-school children. A carer would need to be available for school age children if they were ill and during school holidays. Foster carers will also need to attend meetings with social workers during normal working hours. Therefore, whilst many foster carers continue to work part time, a full time job would require you to have a flexible employer who understands your commitment.

If I already have children of my own, can I still foster? Will this be problematic?

We actively encourage people with parenting experience. Your children will be included in the assessment process, as it is the whole family who fosters. Many birth children grow up to be foster carers themselves, and certainly benefit from living in a fostering household which has supported other children over the years. It is a rewarding role for the whole family.

Can I foster if I have a criminal conviction?

People with minor convictions can foster a child or children, but much depends on the seriousness of the offence, how long ago the crime was committed and how you have lived your life since. People with convictions for violent or sexual offences against children will not be considered as foster carers.

How long will the assessment process take?

The assessment itself should take around 16 weeks, but delays can occur whilst the information required is collected together. Timescales can be affected by your availability, or by delays in receiving the references and checks required. However, most assessments take less than 6 months.

What are the main reasons I would not be able to apply to Worcestershire County Council as a foster carer?

There are very few restrictions at the initial enquiry stage, although reasons may be identified at a later stage once you start the assessment process. However we would not be able to consider you for fostering if:

  • You are under 21 year of age
  • You do not have the capacity to create a spare room
  • You, or a member of your household over the age of 18, works for Worcestershire County Council’s Children’s Social Services
  • You or your partner has a criminal record for a violent or sexual offence against a child.

What if I decide that fostering isn’t for me?

You can withdraw from the process at any point, should you decide that fostering isn’t for you. You can talk through any concerns you have with your social worker and they will advise you. Sometimes you may want to take some time to think things over before you progress to the next stage. This is fine too and the whole process can go at a speed that suits you. The assessment process should be an open and honest discussion, so you should feel comfortable asking your social worker questions throughout.

What type of information will be asked of me/us during the assessment process?

A wide range of subjects will be covered during the assessment process in order for your social worker to gain a complete picture of you and your family and how you will approach the task of fostering. These are just some of the topics that will be covered: Family life, your support network, education and employment, health, past relationships, parenting capacity, family history.

How can I get more information on fostering?

You can access a full Fostering Information Pack here. You can also visit external websites such as The Fostering Network and the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), which will provide you with general advice about fostering. Our Fostering Advisers can also be contacted by calling the Freephone No.: 0800 028 2158

I’ve read the pack and done my research. What’s the next step?

Once you’ve read the pack and feel you’re ready to take the next step you can register your interest either by calling the freephone No.: 0800 028 2158 or by completing the Register your Interest online enquiry form.

Is there any reason I may not be considered for Fostering?

There are no hard and fast rules regarding fostering – our priority is to ensure that you are able to provide a safe, secure, supportive and caring environment for our looked after young people, regardless of your relationship status, ethnicity, religion, employment status, age, sexual orientation or home-owner situation.

The only three requirements that we have from our foster carers are that:

  • you have the capacity to create a spare room
  • you are over 21
  • you appreciate that you are committing to fostering full-time, not just at weekends (it is possible to work part-time – this can be discussed with the social worker/fostering adviser)