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Common fostering questions

The most frequently asked questions about fostering

Do I have the skills needed to foster?

Very few carers start out with all the skills required for the job. Our training programme will help equip you with what you need when you need it. You don’t need any formal qualifications and there is no upper age limit. You may be married, single, with or without children, living together, separated, divorced or widowed. However, what you must have is the drive and enthusiasm to make sure children excel and endless energy!

We would recommend attending one of our fostering information events. At the events we have a short presentation all about fostering and what is involved and you will then have the opportunity to meet some members of our team, foster carers, looked after young people and our training specialist where we will be able to answer any questions you may have. 

Can I cope emotionally?

You’ll learn to cope with most situations as you go along. There will be upsetting times – perhaps when the child eventually moves on – but you’ll get plenty of support from your dedicated social worker. There will also be many times when fostering is great fun and personally rewarding.

Is my home suitable?

The most important ingredient in fostering is you – not the size of your home or whether you own or rent it. The child will need a safe and welcoming environment with their own room.

Can I cope with a child whose behaviour is challenging?

Some children’s behaviour is confusing and difficult to manage and our network of professionals will work alongside you to achieve positive change. You will be amazed at what you can manage. Your training will prepare you for most things. And remember, you’ll never be on your own – there is a network of fellow carers who you will meet at training and events or through the facebook group who can help. You will be able to discuss any worries you may have.

What effect will fostering have on my own family?

Fostering will affect everyone involved – inside and outside the home. Talking about fostering to the whole family means you find out how they feel about sharing time, sharing space and perhaps toys as well. Having a strong support network will help. Training is available for your children to help them adjust to having fostered children into your home.

What is family and friends (connected persons) foster care?

This is where a child is 'in care' and looked after by East Riding of Yorkshire Council. In these cases, family and friends such as grandparents, aunts and uncles or close family friends are assessed and approved as foster carers to look after a specific child or children.

How much will I know about the child or young person before they are placed with me?

We believe it’s essential for foster carers to be provided with as much information as possible about a child prior to placement. In short, whatever we know you know too. But let’s be honest, we won’t know everything – after all neither you nor we will have lived with the child before. So as well as finding out everything we can before you meet them we’ll also train you so you know how to keep everyone safe and how to fill in the gaps to help your child as well.

Can I still go out to work if I become a foster carer?

Fostering does not necessarily require foster carers to be at home full-time, different children will have different needs; the important thing is that you can be flexible to meet those needs at times such as school holidays and to attend meetings.  The fostering payments we provide may give you the flexibility to look at how you manage your working hours.  Do not rule yourself out because you work. 

Are children from the same family kept together?

We try to keep children from the same family together where it is in the child's best interests to do so. Foster carers provide homes for children of all ages from babies to teenagers.

Can my own children share a bedroom so we have enough room to foster?

We would not consider it appropriate for your own children to move and share a bedroom with each other so that you can foster. If they are currently sharing this would need to be discussed with you further.

Can I foster if somebody in my household smokes?

If anyone in your house smokes, you cannot be considered to care for children under five years. This also includes people who smoke on occasions. If you are in the process of quitting, you will need to consult your GP and provide evidence that you have given up smoking for at least six months prior to your application.

How quickly can I foster my first child?

This can vary from a few hours to a few days or weeks depending on your individual circumstances and the age of child or children you are approved to foster. 

How many children at a time can I foster?

This depends on your circumstances and how many spare bedrooms you have as to how many children you will be approved for. In England, the law states that you can have a maximum of three children in a foster placement at any one time, although this does not apply to sibling groups.

Can I choose the types of children I foster?

During the approval process we will discuss what works best for your family and circumstances.

Do foster carers pay tax and national insurance?

Foster carers are treated as self-employed for tax purposes. There is a simplified income tax scheme for foster carers, sometimes referred to as ‘foster care relief’; from April 2010 onwards it will be called ‘qualifying care relief’. The scheme uses an income threshold to determine how much tax, if any, is due.

Anyone who is self-employed must register to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions. Where foster care is the only source of self-employed income and taxable profit is low, a foster carer may apply for the Small Earnings Exception.

Further information about tax and national insurance is available on HM Review and Customs website:

Qualifying care relief for carers: HS236 Self Assessment helpsheet (external website)

For more advice on fostering, tax and national insurance contact:

Fosterline on 0800 040 7675

Email: fosterline@fostering.net

How will fostering affect my welfare benefits?

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, 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, additionally, foster carers may be able to claim working tax credit.

For more advice on fostering, tax and national insurance contact:

Fosterline on 0800 040 7675

Email: fosterline@fostering.net

Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2017