Home Children and Young People Think you can’t foster? Think again!

Think you can’t foster? Think again!

by Gemma Melling

Fostering involves looking after a child or young person in your own home at a time when they are unable to live with their own family, due to illness or other issues.

Knowsley Council is always keen to hear from anyone who is considering fostering, but we also know that many people who are interested in fostering wrongly assume that they would not be eligible – perhaps due to a health condition, financial or personal circumstances.

Foster for Knowsley is keen to dispel some of the myths about who can and can’t become a foster carer – and what it is exactly that carers do.

Some of the most commonly asked questions are answered below – and if you have more questions, or want to chat to somebody in the fostering team about whether fostering might be right for you or your family, please contact us today.

Why do some children need to be fostered?

There are many reasons why a child needs to be fostered. There may be an illness in their family. There may have been a crisis or breakdown in relations or they may have suffered abuse or neglect.

Can I foster if I have my own children?

Yes. We actively encourage people with parenting experience to consider fostering, whether your children still live at home with you or have grown up and moved out. . If your own children are still very young, we may suggest you should wait until they are a little older before you start fostering but will discuss with you in more detail when you enquire. Your children, their ages and their needs – will be included as part of the application process.

Can I foster if I don’t have childcare experience?

To become a Foster Carer you will need some experience of caring for children. This could be raising your own or your partner’s children, through your work or by volunteering. If you don’t have any childcare experience, or only limited experience,  we can advise you how to get the experience which will help you as a foster carer.

Do I need to have a spare bedroom?

Yes – you must have a spare bedroom to foster. This ensures your foster child and any children of your own have their own space and privacy.

Can I foster if I am single or in a same sex relationship?

Yes you can. You can foster as a single person, a married couple or with a partner of the same or different sex.

I’m retired, am I too old to foster?

There is no upper age limit for foster carers.  Being healthy, fit and active will  enable you to enjoy the challenges of fostering. As part of the application process, you will need a medical check but it won’t be anything too daunting.

Can I foster more than one child?

If you have the time and space, especially bedroom space, you can foster more than one child. In fact, we need foster carers who can do so – to look after sibling groups or children from different birth families.

Do I need qualifications to foster?

When you apply to foster there are no particular ‘qualifications’ you will need – just the ability to care for a child and some experience in looking after or working with children.

As part of the fostering approval process you will be given training and the opportunity to gain relevant qualifications which will assist you in your fostering footage.

Can I foster if I work?

If you are thinking about fostering and you currently work, you’ll need to consider the demands of looking after a child. For example, are your hours flexible enough to enable you to be at home when the child leaves for school and returns from school? Can you be available during school holidays or when a child is ill? If you are unsure please contact us to discuss this.

Can I foster if I am unemployed or receiving benefits?

You can foster whether you are employed or unemployed, as long as you are financially stable enough to look after a child. Allowances will be paid to you to cover the costs of the care you provide. By completing training and gaining more experience as a foster carer there is also the opportunity to receive a skills payment and make fostering your full time ‘job’.

Will fostering affect my benefits?

The general position with foster carers is that any payments you receive to assist with fostering will be disregarded for benefits purposes. However in the current climate with current policy changes you need to check with your local benefits office.

Do I need to own my own home to foster?

No – you can be a home owner or you can rent a property. If you rent your property you must have a secure tenancy.

Can I foster if I have a disability?

Yes – we welcome disabled applicants. Every person who applies will have a medical to assess health or disability issues and how this may or may not impact their caring responsibilities

Can I foster if English is my second language?

You don’t have to have English as your first language but you need to have a good standard of written and spoken language. This will be needed so that you can communicate with the child and others such as health visitors, teachers and social workers.

Do I have to be a British citizen to foster?

No – but you need to evidence you are eligible to remain permanently in Britain.

Can I foster if I have a criminal conviction?

We try to take a balanced view and consider the nature of the conviction, how long ago the crime was committed and how you have lived your life since then. People with convictions for violent or sexual offences won’t be considered as foster carers but previous minor offences may not exclude you from fostering.

Can I foster if I smoke?

If you smoke you can’t foster a child under the age of five. In some circumstances children older than five can be placed in smoking households, but only if the foster carers smoke outside and never in the presence of the child. It is advisable to try and quit smoking if at all possible – we can give you help and support to help you.

Is fostering the right thing for me and my family?

Only you can make this decision for sure. The application process will give you the information and time you need to carefully consider whether fostering is the right thing for you. Before applying to become a foster carer, ask yourself:

  • Can I devote time to support and nurture a child?
  • Can I be flexible with my lifestyle and work commitments and can I make adjustments to my life to care for a child?
  • Can I offer high quality care for my child and help them fit into my family?
  • Can I cope with a child who may need special support at school?
  • Can I work cooperatively with the child’s parents and with other professionals?

If you are interested in finding out more about Fostering for Knowsley, or have any other questions, get in touch today for an informal chat.

Telephone 0151 443 4535, email adoptionandfostering@knowsley.gov.uk, visit the Foster for Knowsley website or like ‘Foster for Knowsley’ on Facebook.