What are the Eligibility Factors for Fostering?

juliet d'cruz

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What are the Eligibility Factors for Fostering

Fostering is a worthy career to embark on, knowing that you can change children’s lives for the better. You may have been giving some thought to joining the thousands of foster carers in the UK but are uncertain of the requirements and whether you will be accepted. Below we outline the legal factors and also provide information to help you determine if this is the right move for you, even if your application is approved.

General Legal Requirements

Only a UK citizen or other person who has been granted leave to stay in the UK indefinitely is permitted to foster. It is pointless making an application if the future of your visa is uncertain as this may compromise the wellbeing of the foster children in your care. Bear in mind that, although you will receive an allowance for fostering, this should never be your reason for signing up. Neither you nor the children will benefit if you do. 

Legally, you must have reached your eighteenth birthday, at a minimum. Some fostering agencies insist that foster carers are at least 21 year or older.

Although you need not live in a house, you do have to have a spare bedroom that is exclusively for the foster child. Generally, foster siblings of the same gender may share a room up to the age agreed with your fostering agency. But according to the legal requirements, all children should have separate rooms from when they turn three.

Are Foster Carers Allowed to Work while Fostering?

There are situations in which a fostering agency will be fine with foster carers working, although a foster carer usually needs to undertake fostering as a full-time responsibility. Each child has a unique background and circumstances, which can impact a fostering agency’s decision. If the person is only providing short-term or respite placements, it may be possible to work full-time as well as look after foster children. Agencies may vary in how they determine these cases.

You are reminded that the law does not grant statutory rights to foster carers to stay off work to take care of their foster children. Build a good relationship with your work supervisor and make them aware that you are fostering. This may make it easier to get leave when your foster child needs you at home.

Good Health

While there is no upper age limit for fostering, the foster carer has to be healthy and active to take care of a child. Before applying, you should assess your physical and mental health and determine if you are able to keep up with the demands of fostering. The fostering agency will include a health check in their approval process, but you should also be sure that your endurance and mobility are up to the task. You can get more foster parent support resources and tips here to gain insight into fostering and deciding if it is for you.

Screening Process

There is a fairly lengthy approval process over about twelve weeks to get your application to foster approved. This includes a pre-fostering assessment process to check that you’re able to care for a child and meet all the criteria. Some of these will be the legal requirements, while individual agencies may have additional factors that they need you to meet. You can apply at a foster agency near me to start the process.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply to foster and change a child’s life for the better.