On average it can take around 3- 4 months (12-16 weeks) from your initial enquiry to being approved as a Foster carer. This is based on one assessment visit a week.

You are looking after someone else’s child in your home.
Your role of a Foster carer is to:

  • Provide support to children and young people
  • Promote health and education.
  • Communicate effectively with other professionals.
  • Attend meetings and manage information
  • Manage behaviour
  • Manage relationships
  • Attend Training

Children need their own space. This is especially important for foster children, who may have experienced difficult situations and are having to adapt to life in a new house with different people and routines.

We only place a child or young person in a home where he or she will have their own bedroom.

Having your own children is a fantastic way to gain the experience you need to become a Foster carer.

If you do have your own children living at home, we always consider their needs when matching you with looked after children and young people. It is important that the needs of all children, both your own and fostered are met.

We carefully match all of the children referred to us to the right families and take into consideration the age and gender of your birth children when placing a child in your care. We prefer a two year gap between the age of your own children and any fostered child, but this can be discussed in the assessment process.

We provide care to children and young people from 0-18 years with all types of needs.

During your assessment you will have plenty of opportunity to explore the best age for you and your family, which will include your skills, knowledge, lifestyle, etc.

You must be able to transport children to school, contact and meetings.

If you don’t drive or have access to a car then it’s important to think about how you’ll help the children in your care get to school or attend meetings with their birth family.

it is important that you can show that you are able to meet the needs of a particular child and if you don’t drive you will need good access to public transport.

It is best if at least one Foster carer in the household is at home on a full time basis, this is to ensure that a child or young person in your care is looked after in the best way possible. If you do work full time, you must be able to get a child to and from school, be available for meetings, and take care of children if they are unwell or excluded from school. Your back up carer will be very important if you work full time. 

You’ll need to be able to get a child to and from school and social activities, as well as caring for them during weekends and school holidays. You’ll also need to be able to attend training courses and support groups with the other foster carers.. 

The majority of children in foster care nationally are over 11 years old. Most of the children in our care are aged over 12 years old, and we specialise in parent and child placements.

Fostering a parent and baby is unlike other fostering, because the parent is responsible for the baby or child’s care. As a ‘parent and baby’ Foster carer, your role is to advise and support them to do it.

Most babies and small children remain with local authority carers and most will be adopted.

All that matters is you have the experience and stability in your life to be able to support a child.

Gender, religious, cultural, race or sexual orientation does not rule you out from fostering.

Many foster families also have pets. Pets can provide a very therapeutic environment for children and young people. However, all pets within the home will also be assessed in terms of the risk that they may present.

In regards to dogs, Local Authorities will not allow a foster child or young person to be placed with a household that has:

  • any breed of dog which is highlighted within the Dangerous Dogs Act
  • any household with more than three dogs

We prefer your baby to be between 1 and 2 years old, because having a new baby means lots of changes for your family. We just need be sure that you can meet the needs of both your own baby and any potential foster child.

We take applications from people who are over the age of 23.

As long as you have the physical health and energy we are happy to accept your application.

Life experience is a great asset for anyone looking to become a Foster carer, and anyone looking to foster, irrespective of age, will need to prove that they are in a good standard of physical and mental health.

Our Foster Parents come from all walks of life and are all ages. It is important that you have the experience and stability in your life to be able to support a child or young person.

When you are approved it will be to care for a certain number of children, this depends on the space you have in your home, and your circumstances.

Most OwnLife families are approved to care for one or two children, but we do have some who are approved for three. Each year your approval is reviewed and it is possible to change the approval if the circumstances in the foster home change, such as an extra bedroom becoming available. The normal fostering limit is three.

You will need to have a spare bedroom for each child unless you foster siblings of the same gender, where it will sometimes be possible for them to share a room.

As long as you have a spare bedroom and space for a child, your home can be rented or owned.

If your home is rented, you will need to seek the permission of your landlord before you begin the assessment process.

We do accept Foster Parents that smoke, but you will not be able to foster children under the age of five years old or those with certain disabilities.

Remember, foster homes must be smoke free and no-one smokes in the home

And Smoking in a car where a child is present is illegal

We always encourage you to stop smoking for your own health and to minimise the effect of passive smoking on a young person, as well as presenting a positive role model for any child you look after.

We have applications from people who are single, living together, married, divorced or separated.

If your relationship is a new one, we would like you to have been together for between 1 and 2 years before you start the fostering process.

Fostering always has an impact on your home life, so it’s important to be settled in your relationship before starting the assessment process.

You don’t need any previous training or formal qualifications to foster.

You must be  prepared to learn new things, even though  you may have specific skills, experience or qualifications that will be valuable to fostering. Life experience is one of the most valuable resources you can bring to fostering.

A criminal conviction doesn’t automatically rule you out of fostering, but you must declare all the details to us.

An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be carried out on you and anyone else in the household aged 16 or over.

We will not progress your applications where there are convictions for offences against children or other serious offences.