Frequently Asked Questions

Deciding to foster is a huge decision and you are bound to have plenty of questions. It may even be that you know know what to ask! Not to worry, we’ve compiled a list of our most commonly asked foster care questions and answers.

Fostering is a way of offering children and young people a home while their own family is unable to look after them. Fostering can be a temporary arrangement, and many fostered children return to their own families. Children who cannot return home but still want to stay in touch with their families often live in long-term foster care, and have continued support from their local authority or health and social care trust. Foster carers never have parental responsibility for a child that they care for. Adoption is a way of providing a new family for children who cannot be brought up by their own parents. It’s a legal procedure in which all the parental responsibility is transferred to the adopters. Once an adoption order has been granted it can’t be reversed except in extremely rare circumstances. An adopted child loses all legal ties with their first mother and father (the “birth parents”) and becomes a full member of the new family, usually taking the family’s name.
It is quite straightforward to transfer from your current fostering service/agency to Wellcare Fostering Services, and you have every right to do so. The process can vary slightly depending on who you are with now and whether or not you have any foster children staying with you. If you do have a foster child staying with you at the moment, our first priority will be to make sure the transfer doesn’t disrupt their care. So within 28 days of starting the process, your local authority will meet with you to discuss the transfer’s effect on their stability and welfare. After that, we’ll meet with you, your current agency and the child’s social worker to agree the arrangements and start our assessment stage. If you don’t have a foster child staying with you at the moment, the process is even easier and we can move straight to the assessment stage.

The quickest way to find out the best route for you is to call us on 0800 044 3030 so we can guide you through it.
All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance which is intended to cover the costs of looking after a child in foster care, such as clothing, food and pocket money. We offer our foster carers competitive allowances to cover the costs of looking after a child and foster carers reward for looking after a child. The allowances paid by us will cover the full costs of looking after a child and not leave you out of pocket.
No, you do not need specific qualifications to foster. When you are preparing to foster you will receive training to help you and your family identify and build upon the skills you already have, and develop new skills needed to foster, usually through The Fostering Network’s ‘The Skills to Foster’ course. Once approved as a foster carer, you will be supported to achieve Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care. You will be expected to undertake relevant ongoing professional learning and development which will be arranged by us, including any training costs.
Having pets does not prevent you from fostering, in fact they can be an asset to a foster family. However, every animal is different 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. As a pet owner, you also need to think about how you would feel and react if one of your pets was injured by a child.
There is no requirement to be a British citizen to be a foster carer in the UK. You must be a full-time resident in the UK, with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. You cannot apply to become a foster carer if you are living outside the UK.
If you are approved to become a foster carer there are a various sources of ongoing support available to you. The most important will be your supervising social worker, a member of the team allocated to support you from your fostering service, who should meet regularly with you to discuss any concerns you have, offer you supervision, and arrange any training you feel you need. We will get the membership of The Fostering Network for you. Membership of The Fostering Network provides access to a vast network of foster carers in a similar situation to you, and a range of information and advice services. There will be out of hours support available and you will be given advice and information on any emergency situation arising out of normal working hours.
We, like other fostering services, do not begin the approval process if you are moving as your home forms an important part of your assessment. You must be able to demonstrate that you can provide a suitable and safe environment for children before you can become a foster carer.
Not necessarily. The law states that the only criminal convictions that prevent people from fostering are those that relate to an offence against children or a sexual offence. Minor offences should not count against you in your application to foster. All criminal convictions will need to be disclosed when you first apply to foster as the application process to become a foster carer includes an enhanced criminal record check.
Your health will be considered when applying to foster and any long-term conditions taken into account. The most important factor is whether you are physically and psychologically fit enough to cope with the demands of caring for a child – this may vary depending on the age of the children that you are approved for.
Past mental illness is not a bar to becoming a foster carer, in fact there is no diagnosis that can automatically prevent you fostering. However you would need to discuss this with any fostering service that you applied to. A medical report is always sought as part of the assessment process, and you would also need to consider the impact that the emotional side of fostering could have on your mental health.
You will need a good level of spoken and written English to be able to communicate with other professionals, support children’s education and make notes and keep records. A large number of children in foster care do not have English as a first language and being placed in a home where their first language is spoken can be very beneficial for them.
It does not matter what your religion is and this should not affect your application to foster. Children should be placed with foster families that can meet their needs, including religious needs. However you would need to consider how you would feel about discussing issues such as alternative religious belief or sexuality with a child, ensuring that you abide by the fostering service policies.
We have policies in relation to smoking which take into account the impact on the health of any children that will be placed with you and also the importance of foster carers as role models for young people in care. We encourage prospective foster carers who smoke to stop smoking or they will be unlikely to be able to foster certain groups such as children under five and those with certain health conditions. It is important that you discuss this with us we make sure that you are aware of our policy. All foster carers should provide a smoke-free environment for children.
You can apply to become a foster carer if one of your children has a disability. The fostering service that you apply to will want to discuss with you how you would balance to the needs of any children who are placed with you with the needs of your own child and what the impact could be on your own child of having other children in their home.
Fostering involves the whole family and will affect your children. The children of foster carers play a key role in the fostering household and should be included at all stages of the fostering process. It can be tough for children who find themselves sharing their parents with children who have led very different lives. However, many children also say that they have enjoyed their parents’ fostering and learnt a lot from it.
As part of the assessment to become a foster carer, it is usual to have discussions about the appropriate age range, the number of children you will be approved to foster, and any other considerations. Ideally all placements of children will be well-matched and planned, but ultimately a foster carer has the right to turn down placements.
It is inevitable that, as foster carers, there will be some children who you find fit in better with your family. Some children will also take time to adjust to living in your home. However, if there is a real problem with a child, then it is important to discuss this with your social worker. You may find if things are not working out for you, then the child will also be feeling that this is not the right place for them.

It may be that with extra support or training, caring for that child or young person becomes easier and more enjoyable. However, sometimes, it may be best for a child to move to another foster family.
Foster carers are treated as self-employed for tax purposes. There is a specific tax scheme foster carers can use called Qualifying Care Relief. The scheme calculates a tax threshold unique to the fostering household which determines if a foster carer has to pay any tax from their fostering. Anyone who is self-employed must register to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions. Further information about tax and National Insurance is available on HM Revenue and Customs website.
If you currently claim welfare benefits you are likely to be able to continue to claim while fostering. Foster carers are approved rather than employed by their fostering service, and this status has a particular effect on means tested benefits. In the main, fostering payments when a child is placed with a foster carer are disregarded when calculating welfare benefits.  Alternatively, foster carers may be able to claim Working Tax Credit because fostering is regarded as ‘work’ by HMRC when they have a child in placement.
Previous financial problems should not prevent you from fostering. You will need to be able to show that you are now financially secure enough to provide a stable home for any children who are placed with you, and that you are able to manage the fostering allowances paid to you.
It is often possible to work part-time particularly if caring for young children and school age children, and depending on the needs and age of children it may be possible to work full-time. Foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, attend meetings, training, support groups, and to promote and support contact between a child and their family. Fostering services would not usually consider it appropriate for a fostered child to be in full-time day care while their foster carer works, but may consider use of after school clubs and other child care arrangements for older children.