Is there an age limit for being a Foster Carer?
No – we welcome Foster Carers of all ages, from 21 upwards. As long as you have enough energy to cope with the everyday physical demands of caring for children and young people, you can become a Foster Carer. Currently, our brilliant team of dedicated Foster Carers span right the way from their twenties up to their seventies, bringing lots of different skills and life experiences to the role.
Does a foster child need their own bedroom?
Yes – all children will need their own bedroom. This ensures the children you care for have the privacy and space they require. There may be some exceptions to this when fostering siblings, however this will be agreed on a case-by-case basis. In order to apply to become a Foster Carer you must have at least one spare bedroom.
Do I need to have children of my own to be a Foster Carer?
No – Foster Carers aren’t required to have birth children. Any relevant experience of working with, or caring for, children is helpful (for example through work and/or looking after the children of relatives or friends). You will receive comprehensive training to ensure you are fully equipped to look after children and young people in your care.
Are Foster Carers paid?
Yes – if you foster with us you will receive both an allowance (which covers the day-to-day costs of looking after a child) and a skills fee, which recognises your skills and experience and the contribution you are making by being a Foster Carer. The total amount you will receive will depend on the age and number of children you are caring for and your skills level. You will also receive additional benefits like mileage and help to cover the costs of key events such as birthdays and festivals for the children in your care. You can find out more by visiting the Pay and Allowances section.
What’s the difference between fostering and adoption?
Fostering is usually a temporary care arrangement to provide a home for children and young people while their own family is unable to look after them. There are lots of different types of fostering and the length of time children spend in care varies. In many cases the children will return to their families when it is appropriate to do so. Foster Carers never have parental responsibility for a child that they care for.
Adoption is a way of providing a permanent new family for children who cannot be brought up by their own parents. This is a legal procedure in which all the parental rights and responsibilities are transferred to the adopters.
There is a big difference between fostering and adoption so you should think carefully about what is right for you and your family. You can always contact us if you want more information. If you are interested in finding out about more about adoption, please visit Adoption South East’s website.
Do I need specific qualifications to be a Foster Carer?
No – we provide all our Foster Carers with high-quality training to complement your existing skills and experience, ensuring you can give children the best care possible. When you’re becoming a Foster Carer, you will attend a Skills to Foster course with other prospective carers which takes you through all the essential skills and knowledge you need to be a Foster Carer. Once approved, you will have access to our comprehensive training package to help you develop your skills throughout your fostering career. You can find out more about our training offer here.
Will I have a say in the children / young people I look after?
When we begin the assessment process we will discuss with you what type of fostering and children would fit best with you and your family. This includes things like the age and needs of the children, as well as how many children you can care for. We will work with you to discuss your preferences and work out where your skills and experience will be most beneficial. Once you are approved we will always work with you to find the most appropriate children for you to care for and, as a Foster Carer, you will have support and guidance from your Supervising Social Worker prior to children coming to live with you and throughout.
What if I have problems whilst caring for my foster child?
Caring for children and young people always has its challenges and fostering is no different. Being a Foster Carer with us, however, means you get a comprehensive support package to help guide you through these challenging times. This includes your own Supervising Social Worker to provide personal support, out-of-hours support so you’re never alone, and a range of groups which meet on a regular basis where you can share and discuss issues with staff and other Foster Carers. We also have a whole host of training opportunities which can help you tackle some of the issues you might come up against. The most important thing is that we will be with you every step of the way to help with any problems you may encounter. You can find out more about the training and support we offer here.
How many children can I care for at one time?
The amount of children you can care for at one time will depend on a number of factors including the space you have available in your home and the needs of the children in your care. This will be discussed during your assessment process and agreed by the Fostering Panel when you are being approved. The maximum number of children Foster Carers can care for at one time is three.
Can I foster if I smoke?
Yes – if you smoke you can look after children over the age of five and those without certain health conditions. However, Foster Carers are expected to be a positive role model for the children in their care and therefore you would be expected to only smoke outside of the home and discourage the children you are looking after from smoking.
Can I foster if I have a disability or long-term health condition?
We welcome applications from people with disabilities and those who have health conditions – neither of these things will automatically prevent you from fostering. Being a Foster Carer, however, can be an emotionally and physically demanding role and therefore we need to make sure that all our carers are able to provide the appropriate level of care needed for any children placed with them. Health checks are a mandatory part of the assessment process for all new Foster Carers.
Can I foster if I have a job?
It is possible to have a job and foster, however, this depends on a number of factors, including the age of the child/children you care for, the type of work you do and how many carers are in the household. It is important that our carers are able to fully meet the needs of the children they care for, this includes attending meetings and training, which will sometimes be during traditional office hours. Our Fostering Recruitment team will be able to discuss whether being a Foster Carer will be compatible with your current job role.
Can I foster if I am single?
Yes – you don’t need to be in a relationship to be a Foster Carer. Here at West Sussex, we have plenty of brilliant single Foster Carers who do an amazing job looking after the children and young people in their care.
Can I foster if I rent my home?
Yes – you don’t have to own your home to be a Foster Carer, and plenty of our carers live in rented accommodation. You will still have to make sure your home is suitable for a child or young person, including having a spare bedroom, and provide written consent from your landlord for you to foster within the property.
Can I foster if I have a criminal record?
Having a criminal record doesn’t automatically prevent you from becoming a Foster Carer, however, certain offences would mean you were ineligible to apply. All criminal convictions will need to be disclosed when you first apply to foster, and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are a standard part of the assessment procedure.
Can I foster if I have my own birth children?
Yes – having your own birth children doesn’t prevent you from being a Foster Carer, in fact it probably means you’ve got lots of relevant skills and experience that you can bring to this role. We will work closely with you to ensure your whole family is taken into account throughout your entire fostering journey.
Can I foster if I have pets?
Yes – sharing a home with pets can bring many advantages to the children we care for. It can help teach them responsibility for other living things, build their self-confidence, manage stress, and provide companionship. Every animal is different though, and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a Foster Carer, taking into account factors such as their temperament and behaviour. This will also be the case for any future pets you have throughout your time fostering.
Can I foster if I am from the LGBT+ community?
Yes – sexual orientation has no impact on your eligibility or ability to be a Foster Carer. What is important is that you can provide a young person with a safe, loving and stable home. So, if you think you can do that please get in touch.
I’m interested in becoming a Foster Carer, but I’m still not sure – what should I do?
Get in touch with our friendly Fostering Recruitment team. They’ll be able to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have. You won’t be put under any pressure to commit to anything – we just want to make sure you have all the information you need to work out if this is the right decision for you and your family.