FAQs about becoming a Foster Carer

Here at Fitzgerald Fostering in Bracknell we often get asked about becoming a foster carer. We’ve listed some of those most commonly asked questions below, along with links to more in-depth answers. If you have another question about becoming a foster carer then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

What is fostering

Fostering is a way of providing care, in a family environment, for children while their own families are unable to care for them. There’s more information on fostering and the different kinds of fostering available here.

Who can be a foster carer?

Children and young people that need to live with foster carers are from a wide range of backgrounds, from families just like yours, and we need carers that reflect this. There is no blue print in terms of marital status, parenting experience, sexuality, gender, culture, ethnicity, employment status, home ownership etc. However, you must be able to provide a safe, secure, stable, loving environment that will enable children to develop, succeed, feel valued and retain their own identity while they live you. There is no upper age limit, but you will need to be over 21 years of age. You need to be interested in children, flexible, enjoy working as part of a team, have a spare bedroom available for fostering and a willingness and commitment to your training and development as a foster carer.

Why do children need to be fostered?

Just as there is no such thing as a typical carer – there is no such thing as a typical child that needs to live in foster care. Children need to live in alternative families for all sorts of reasons. For example, there may be family breakdown, illness, neglect or the child may have been removed for their own safety. As a result of this these children have experienced trauma and will need carers that are resilient, protective, child focused, positive and sensitive to the impact that their previous life experience has on their current development and functioning.

What do foster carers do?

Foster carers provide exactly what you might expect in terms of meeting a child’s day to day needs. Alongside providing care and a home you will need the ability to make children feel safe, secure, valued, encouraged, supported and listened too. A tall order we know, but nothing less than any child might expect from their carers. Fostering does take time, energy, and commitment but our existing carers will tell you that as well as being challenging, it is worthwhile and rewarding.

Will I receive training and support?

As a foster carer you would have an allocated supervising social worker who will ensure you receive appropriate advice, support, supervision and training. We also have an out of hours advice line that is staffed by people who will know you, your family situation and the children placed with you. They will therefore be able to offer timely, appropriate advice. There will be a range of training available that is relevant to the fostering task. As a foster carer you will be required to attend training and development sessions. We recognise that the fostering task is complex and challenging and that carers need to be appropriately skilled and supported to manage the task effectively.

Can I foster if I have my own children?

Yes, many foster carers have their own children, and this can be a real positive for the looked after child. As part of the assessment the wishes and feelings of your child/children will be sought to ensure that fostering is right for them too. We will always consider your children when placing a child in your home.

Do I need a spare bedroom?

Yes, a fostered child would need their own bedroom. Sometimes siblings who are fostered together can share a bedroom, if appropriate to do so.

Can I be a foster carer if I work?

Yes, however, being a foster carer is a big commitment and you will need to be able to demonstrate flexibility to support the child during the working week. You will be required to attend meetings, support family contact arrangements, and support the child in their day to day life (e.g. school runs). There’s more info on fostering whilst working full time here.

Can I foster if I smoke tobacco or vape?

If you smoke tobacco you will not be able to foster a child under the age of 5 years or any age if the child has any health needs that smoking could adversely affect. You will be expected to smoke outside and away from children.

Do I need to be able to drive?

No, but as a foster carer you will be expected to take children to and from school, family contact, and to attend meetings as required. Therefore, you need to consider how you would meet these travel requirements.

Can I foster if I have pets?

Yes, we will consider pets as part of the assessment process.

Can I foster with a criminal record?

There are some offences that would rule people out but there are also many that would not. All fostering applicants and adult household members would require a DBS check and all criminal records and cautions will be disclosed as part of that process. If you or any member of your household has a criminal record it will not necessarily stop you from fostering, it depends on what the conviction was for and when it was committed.