What You Need to Know About Becoming a Foster Carer in the UK

Foster care entails welcoming a child into your home for a set period depending on the type of fostering you decide on. There are many reasons why children go into foster care, and there is a dire need for homes and families for these children. Becoming a foster carer is admirable and encouraged, but there are a few things you need to know before becoming one.

Who Can Become a Foster Carer?

Becoming a foster carer means inviting a foster child to be a part of your family. As such, you need to be able to care for yourself and the foster children or children in your care. To become a foster carer in the UK, you need to be at least 18 years old (most agencies require that you are at least 21) and be able to take care of a child, teen or young adult full time.

Can I Work and Be a Foster Carer?

It depends on your circumstances, but foster carers must prioritise their foster children. For example, you may foster children with special needs who need your full attention. In such a situation, you would need to take care of the foster child full time.

That said, having trusted relatives available for emergencies is allowed as long as they are legitimate emergencies. Do know you can contact your agency to arrange respite care if you need to take a break for a night or two.

Foster carers receive an allowance that caters to their foster children’s needs and rewards them for being foster carers. The allowance also comes with a tax exemption of £18,140.

Requirements for Becoming a Foster Carer

Every foster agency has slightly different requirements, but beyond being the right age, you need to have a spare bedroom in your home whether you own the home or not. Before becoming a foster carer, you must also pass an assessment that ensures you can take care of a foster child. The assessment process typically starts with filling out an online form — you can visit fosterplus.co.uk to find out more.

Fostering Responsibilities

Your primary responsibility as a foster carer is to care for the foster child or children under your care. Foster carers do this with help from professionals from their agency, support groups, other foster carers, local authority, healthcare professionals and others as is relevant to the foster child. Foster carers are also required to advocate for their foster children. They also often work with birth families because the main aim of foster care is reunification.

Foster Care is About the Child

Every foster carer should understand that foster care ensures the children have loving, supportive homes where all their needs are met until they are reunified with their families. In some cases, reunification may not be possible, so the foster care agency and foster carers must consider long-term fostering in such situations.

Fostering allows those who can and are willing, to provide a safe, nurturing and loving home environment for foster children. It is about ensuring all of the child’s needs are met and that they have a great birth family to return to. With the high demand for foster carers, everyone should consider being one.

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