I am single. Can I foster?
Yes. We welcome applications from single people regardless of their gender or sexuality.
Do I have to be married with children of my own?
No, we value each individual’s commitment, enthusiasm and energy over their personal circumstances.
I am gay – can I still foster?
Yes, we consider applications from gay and lesbian individuals or couples. The application process is exactly the same.
I have children already at home will this affect my suitability to foster?
No, the ages and needs of your own children will help us to decide the most suitable children to be placed with your family
Do I need a spare room or can a foster child share a bedroom with one of my own children?
We require all our foster carers to have a spare room and will only place a child in a home where they will have their own bedroom. This is a legal requirement
I don’t have children, can I still foster?
Having your own child is not a requirement. You may be good with children thanks to working with them, through your family and friends, or volunteering. If you do have children of your own we carefully match foster children to your family and circumstances.
I don’t own my own home, can I still foster?
You don’t need to own your own home to foster. You can live in a privately rented or council rented property, in a house or a flat, as long as each child can have their own bedroom you can foster.
Are there age restrictions on becoming a foster carer?
The national minimum age for fostering is 21 years. However, it’s our view that this is very young to be able to demonstrate the substantial life skills that are essential in coping with challenging placements. We recommend acquiring significant work related experience before applying to foster.
I am a smoker will this prevent me from being considered?
In view of the significant risks of smoking and passive smoking, applicants who currently smoke will be limiting their suitability. We are unable to place a child under 5 within a home where smoking occurs. Any new applicants who currently smoke are encouraged to quit smoking in line with healthy life styles. You can get support to quit smoking from the local Stop Smoking Service.
I’m a little bit overweight – can I still foster?
The medical assessment which all foster carers undergo will determine if this will cause any problems.
Can I foster if I have a disability or long term health problems?
All applicants have to undergo a full medical assessment as part of the process; however not all illnesses will stop you being considered.
I have a criminal record. Does this mean I won’t be able to foster?
Not necessarily – it depends on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. We need to know of all previous criminal convictions and we carry out a police check (DBS) early in the application process, but we advise you discuss any convictions with your social worker as soon as possible to find out whether they will affect your ability to foster. This information will remain confidential. There are some convictions that would make it impossible for us to place children with you.
I work full-time – can I still foster?
Yes, but the hours you work may help determine what kind of fostering you are able to do.
We require at least one carer to be at home full time when we place a child before school age. When fostering older children your work will need to be flexible to enable you to attend various meetings which can be frequent, and are usually held during the day.
Will my relationship with my partner be assessed?
Yes, for prospective foster carers, we look to see that your relationship with your partner is stable.
I’ll be the main foster carer – do you carry out checks on my partner?
Yes – we carry out thorough checks on all adult members of your household over the age of 16 including birth children and lodgers etc. All couples living together are partners in the fostering process, so you’ll both need to have the necessary checks and training as part of your assessment.
What kind of checks will you carry out on me and my home?
We carry out a number of checks as part of the application process. These include:
- A Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS), on all members of your household over the age of 16
- Checks with your local authority or health trust social work service
- Checks with the education department
- Checks with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) which lists those prevented from working with children
- A standard safety check on your home
- We also request references from previous employers as well as personal references from two people who have known you for at least five years
I have had lots of problems in my personal life – can I still foster?
Yes. Your tough times could give you a much better understanding of the problems faced by the children and young people needing care.
Will I be asked lots of personal questions by social workers?
Yes, but all the questions will be linked to your skills and abilities as a parent and carer. A social worker will get to know you, and, over time, you will form a trusting relationship with them. All information you give will be confidential.
I have pets – can I still foster?
Yes, we will ask you all about your pets during one of our home visits and discuss the best way to introduce foster children into your home. Further information can be found here.
I am vegetarian, can I still cook vegetarian meals?
Yes, however the dietary wishes and likes of the child or young person need to be taken into consideration. We would expect vegetarian foster carers to be able to provide for meat eaters as well as other dietary requirements.
Do I need a driving licence and access to a car?
Carers need access to a car in order to take their foster children to school, attend training and meetings as well as facilitate contact with parents. This can involve travel over significant distances where the child needs to attend their previous school or contact with family members who live some distance from the foster home.
As Devon is such a large rural county and public transport links are limited, we find that foster carers need to be car drivers and have access to a car to complete the fostering role. In exceptional circumstances, where prospective carers can demonstrate that they would be able to foster without being a car driver we may be able to proceed with an application. This would be discussed at the initial enquiry stage.