You may be surprised, but a common question we get asked is “Can I foster if I’m single?”
The simple answer is YES, single people can foster.
Over a quarter (26%) of our families are single foster carers. You do not need to be married, living with a partner, or co-habiting. If you can provide a secure stable home for vulnerable children, that is what is most important.
If you are single, please don’t let this hold you back from fostering. Here at Family Care, we are interested in your ability to successfully care, nurture, and support a child or young person, not your relationship status!
Criteria for single foster carers
Let’s quickly go over the basic criteria of becoming a single foster carer (which also apply to everyone).
There are three requirements to become a foster parent in the UK:
- You must have a spare bedroom
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain in the UK
Whilst these are the basic criteria, there are many desirable skills and qualities foster carers should have. Take a look at our list of 7 Essential Traits All Foster Carers Need.
Things to consider as a single foster carer
Fostering can be a challenging role.
Although you will have outstanding support from Family Care’s team, including your own supervising social worker, fellow foster carers, support workers and our in-house therapists, it’s only fair we highlight that fostering as a single carer can sometimes be a little bit more challenging.
Our fostering advisors will be able to guide and support you better with this at an enquiry call, sometimes referred to as the discovery call. But here are a few initial things to consider.
How much time do you have to spare?
Ask yourself how much time you have available. Really be honest with yourself and look at your daily routine.
You will be caring for a child or young person 24/7 and you’ll be their go-to person in an emergency. This could mean collecting a sick child from school and looking after them until they are well enough to return. Your availability to meet the needs of a young person will be the first thing we explore.
What are your plans about work?
One of the key questions during your initial enquiry is: What are your plans regarding work? This is so we can work out your availability and advise appropriately.
If you are in full-time employment and plan to continue working, will you be able to manage school runs? What is a child is off sick from school? What about school holidays? Being flexible to meet the needs of a young person is massively important, just as if they were your own children.
If appropriate, you could even ask your employer if it’s something they feel they can support and show some flexibility.
If you are considering reducing your working hours or stopping work altogether, have you thought about the impact on your finances?
You will be pleased to hear we pay a very generous fostering allowance to all our carers, starting at £380/week per child. This income could allow you to reduce your working hours, or even leave your current role altogether. However, there is no allowance when you are not fostering a young person.
Our carers will tell testify to the value of budgeting and thinking ahead, and it’s wise to have some savings to fall back on for those weeks when you may have a gap. These periods are usually few and far between due to the numbers of children coming into care, but it’s something you need to think about.
More information about the professional allowances paid at Family Care can be found here: https://family-care.co.uk/fostering-allowance/
Consider what childcare experience you have
At Family Care we recognise that everyone must start somewhere, and not everyone considering fostering will have lots of childcare experience. That is okay.
If you have childcare experience from raising your own children, that will certainly help. If you don’t have direct parenting experience, think about the roles you may have worked where you have supported children or young people. Or perhaps you’ve cared for nieces, nephews, or close friends’ children?
Regardless of your childcare experience, we will provide you with excellent training and preparation. Once approved, we work with you to identify areas of training which will support your development and help you flourish in your role as a single foster carer.
Have you thought about your support network?
All carers are expected to have a personal support network they can rely on in an emergency. This may be for the odd school collection, care for a child the odd afternoon if you have an appointment, or maybe longer if you fall ill or have some other emergency.
This is even more important for single foster carers who don’t have the daily support from another adult in the home.
Many of our single foster carers generally rely on close family and friends. When thinking about who can support you, consider where they live in relation to your home. Do they drive and have use of a car? Again, this is something we can explore further during the discovery call.
Support for Single Foster Carers
We know good support is a crucial part of delivering the best outcomes for a young person.
We really pride ourselves on the support we give our foster carers. For most day-to-day needs, your supervising social worker will be your main point of contact in the fostering team. But there may be times when you need support from one of our therapists, or from our child support team.
We will be on-hand when you need us. Whether it’s meeting with our in-house therapists or getting help with administration, it is always just a phone call away. For more information on the support available visit: https://family-care.co.uk/support-for-foster-carers/
“Foster carers and children are well supported by enthusiastic support workers and have easy access to therapeutic support”.
How to become a single foster carer
So, let’s have a quick re-cap. If you are single, over 21, have a spare bedroom, some time, are in reasonably good health, and you have thought about the challenges and commitments required when fostering, then we are waiting to hear from you!
We know there is so much more to think about, so the best starting point is a friendly chat on the phone. Many people tell us this was the most daunting part until they spoke to us.
Please pick up the phone and give us a call, there is no obligation for anything more than a chat.
Call us on 0800 5 677677, or if you prefer you can enquire online and we will get in touch: https://family-care.co.uk/enquire-to-foster/
Remember, here at Family Care, we are interested in your ability to successfully care, nurture, and support a child, not your relationship status!
Stop asking yourself, “Can I foster if I’m single?”. The answer is yes.
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