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Fostering frequently asked questions


There are many things to think about when considering fostering.

Questions

Click on the links below to find the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

How long do my partner and I need to be together before we can apply to foster?
Does everyone in the family need to know we have applied to foster?
Our grandchildren stay with us sometimes at weekends; will I need to include them on the Expression of Interest form as a member of my household?
Do you need to contact my ex partner?
Can my own children share a bedroom so that our family can foster?
We hope to move house/build an extension/convert the loft in the next few months; can we apply to become foster carers?
I have a pond in my garden; will this prevent me from fostering?
My son who lives with us smokes; will this affect our application?
My partner was cautioned in relation to an offence when he was 16yrs old; do I need to inform you of this?
I would like to give up work and foster full-time but need an income; is this possible?
I am single and have never had children of my own; can I still foster?
We are a same sex couple; can we be considered as foster carers?
Am I too young/old to foster?
Can I be considered as a foster carer for a sibling group?
Our son/daughter is at university/college can we use their bedroom for a fostered child?
I was made bankrupt last year; can I still apply to foster?
My partner and I are currently receiving fertility treatment; can we apply to foster?
When I complete my Expression of Interest form, we sign to give consent to look at other information you may hold on me and my family; what information do you have access to?
We have a friend who gave up their job before applying to become a foster carer, so that they could foster full-time. Should we do this?

Answers

How long do my partner and I need to be together before we can apply to foster?

You will need to have lived together for at least two years before you can apply to become foster carers.

Does everyone in the family need to know we have applied to foster?

Fostering involves the whole family. We would expect you to have discussed your wish to foster with all members of your household, including children. Everyone's views are important, as are their feelings in relation to having a fostered child living with them.

Our grandchildren stay with us sometimes at weekends; will I need to include them on the Expression of Interest form as a member of my household?

Yes, as they could affect such things as the age or sex of child placed with you, if you were to be approved as a foster carer.

Do you need to contact my ex-partner?

If you have been married previously or have had a significant relationship with another person, it is likely that we will need to contact them to gather or confirm information. This is part of the family assessment we are required to carry out on all prospective foster carers.

Can my own children share a bedroom so that our family can foster?

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

We hope to move house/build an extension/convert the loft in the next few months; can we apply to become foster carers?

As part of the family assessment' we will need to visit your home to see if it is suitable for fostering. We would not be able to proceed with your application until all major building work has been carried out or you are settled into your new home.

I have a pond in my garden; will this prevent me from fostering?

Ponds will need to be either filled in or have a solid cover to prevent children from falling in. We carry out a health and safety check to identify other risks as part of the family assessment.

My son who lives with us smokes; will this affect our application?

If anyone in your house smokes, you cannot be considered to care for children under five years. This also includes people who only smoke occasionally. 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 a year prior to your application.

My partner was cautioned in relation to an offence when he was 16 years old; do I need to inform you of this?

We must carry out a number of checks on potential foster carers. This includes whether anyone in your household has any criminal convictions or cautions. When carrying out checks we are made aware of all past criminal records, these include offences as a juvenile or under 18 years. Please note that not all criminal convictions will prevent you from becoming a foster carer, however, there are certain offences that will, for example, offences against children.

I would like to give up work and foster full-time but need an income; is this possible?

We have a career structure for foster carers. Carers are paid an allowance depending on the age of the child and a fostering fee. The fostering fee is paid on a banding system depending on your skills, knowledge and abilities. As you gain more experience it is possible to move through the banding levels. Visit our financial support for foster carers page to find out more.

I am single and have never had children of my own; can I still foster?

We have a wide range of foster carers who all have different family and personal circumstances. Many carers are single (male and female) and some have not had children of their own. There are many one parent families who successfully bring up children on their own.

We are a same sex couple; can we be considered as foster carers?

Yes. Partnership status is one of the many areas we look at as part of the assessment of potential foster carers. We are also members of New Family Social, a UK charity led by LGBT foster carers and adoptive parents. You will be able to receive additional support through our membership.

Am I too young/old to foster?

You will need to be over 21 years old before you can apply to foster. There is no upper age limit in relation to fostering. We will carry out regular checks (including medical) to determine your ability to care for a child.

Can I be considered as a foster carer for brothers and sisters?

We are always looking for carers who will enable us to keep brothers and sisters together. In some circumstances brothers and sisters can share a bedroom (if this is appropriate).

Our son/daughter is at university/college; can we use their bedroom for a fostered child?

We would not expect your son/daughter to give up their room to allow you to foster, as they are likely to return for at least part of the time. In circumstances where it is unlikely that your own child will return home, we would need to discuss the situation with you and your son/daughter.

I was made bankrupt last year; can I still apply to foster?

With all bankruptcies there is a period defined when you are not able to set up another business. All foster carers are now classed as self-employed and as such we would not be in a position to consider you as a foster carer until the stipulated time has lapsed.

My partner and I are currently receiving fertility treatment; can we apply to foster?

The period during and after fertility treatment is often a very stressful and emotional time. We would not consider any application to become a foster carer immediately before, during or immediately after fertility treatment. If applicants have received fertility treatment in the past, this will be fully discussed and explored as part of our assessment process. If you are interested in parenting a young child on a life long basis visit our adoption pages.

When I complete my Expression of Interest form, we sign to give consent to look at other information you may hold on me and my family; what information do you have access to?

When you return your Expression of Interest form we access records where you've had past and current involvement with any Durham County Council department. For example, housing, health and education, fostering and adoption.

We have a friend who gave up their job before applying to become a foster carer, so that they could foster full-time. Should we do this?

We would not recommend anyone giving up a job prior to them being approved as a foster carer. When you apply to become a foster carer we can not give any guarantee that you will be approved as a carer or what level of payment you will receive. We recommend no applicant give up work prior to their assessment being approved by our agency decision maker. The same applies to those who may currently be approved by another fostering agency.

Contact us
Fostering
03000 269 400
Our address is:
  • Children and Young People's Services
  • Durham Resource Centre
  • Littleburn Business Centre
  • Langley Moor
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH7 8ET
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