A Guide to Becoming a Foster Parent

Are you looking for a way to make an incredible impact in the lives of vulnerable young people? Every year, thousands of children and adolescents need supportive environments that foster carers can provide. 

Becoming a foster parent isn’t as intimidating or overwhelming as one might think – we’re here to guide you through every step of the way.


So, what is foster care?


When children are unable to stay with their biological parents, foster care can provide them with a comforting haven to call home. 

Whether it’s for a short period of time or until they reach adulthood, foster care is a nurturing environment that helps them thrive. As a foster carer, you’ll work alongside a team of professionals to create a stable and loving home for the child to recover and grow. 

You’ll have support throughout this journey, so there’s no need to worry. Not only does the local authority have a legal responsibility for the child’s protection and well-being, our team is also here to offer you all the support and information you need to get started. 

Together, we can help provide children with the safe and cherished home they deserve.

If you’re considering becoming a foster parent in the UK, it’s important to understand the differences between independent fostering agencies (IFAs) and local authorities (LAs). 

While both offer the opportunity to provide a loving home to a child in need, IFAs are known for their higher levels of support and higher fostering allowances. 

Of course, the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference and what you feel will be the best fit for your family.

Whichever path you choose, completing a fostering assessment and meeting the selection criteria will be essential steps in beginning your journey as a foster parent.

For more information, read our in-depth blog about the difference between private and council fostering agencies.


How long is the journey to become a foster parent?


Well, you can expect the whole process to take approximately 4-5 months to complete. 

This includes all the necessary checks and references, the fostering report, and pre-approval training. 

But don’t let this time frame discourage you, as it’s important to ensure that all prospective foster carers go through a thorough assessment to ensure the safety and well-being of children in care. 

Once approved, the waiting time to care for a young person will depend on your matching preferences, but typically, our newly approved foster carers wait between 4-8 weeks for their first child. 

So if you have the time, patience and dedication to provide a loving home for a child in need, becoming a foster carer is a rewarding and fulfilling experience.


The breakdown of the fostering application: 


Here are the 5 key stages applicants must complete to become a foster carer in the UK. 


foster carer application process


Stage 1 – Initial enquiry


The decision to become a foster carer can feel overwhelming at first, with many questions and concerns swirling around in your mind. 

That’s why we believe the best way to start your journey is with a simple enquiry call. Our friendly team at Family Care are ready to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process. 

We’ll even send you a brochure with further information to help make your decision. 

Once you’re ready to take the next step, we’ll set up a telephone questionnaire and review your answers to decide on how to move forward. 

We’re here to support you every step of the way on this incredible journey of fostering.


Stage 2 – The home visits


If you’re happy to progress in your application, the next step is arranging a home visit from one of our supervising social workers (SSWs)

This visit is like an interview, where you get to know us better, and we get to know you better too. 

We understand that applicants want to feel comfortable progressing with us, and we want to feel comfortable progressing applicants to the next stage. 

During the visit, we’ll have a general look around your home, and gather more information about you and your existing support network of friends and family. 

This meeting will give us the opportunity to provide you with further insight into the role and expectations of foster carers, and what you can expect from us as your fostering agency. 

At the heart of the fostering process is the wellbeing of the child. Part of ensuring that wellbeing is understanding who you are and your unique story. 

As we delve into your family history and life experiences, we are not only better able to assess your suitability as a foster carer, but we also gain a deeper understanding of the environment in which the child will be placed. 

It is natural for people to have reservations about opening up in this way, but I assure you that this information will be handled sensitively and with the utmost confidentiality. 

It is only by exploring every facet of your journey that we can ensure the very best outcomes for the child.


Stage 3 – The application and assessment process


Now it’s time to take the next step towards becoming a foster parent. 

Our fostering administrator will carefully review your application form to ensure that all the necessary details are provided. 

Once approved, an assessor will be assigned to you and embark on a journey to get to know you better. 

Expect regular visits from your assessor, taking around 6-12 weeks to complete. 

They will delve into all aspects of your life, skills and experiences, and assess your suitability to provide a safe, nurturing home for young people. 

The assessment process will culminate in a report that highlights why your home is a positive environment for fostering. 


Stage 4 – The foster pre-approval training


As part of your assessment, you will have the opportunity to enrol in the Foundation to Foster pre-approval training course

This comprehensive training programme is designed to provide you with the essential skills and knowledge needed to become a successful foster parent. 

The course is currently delivered online, with face-to-face sessions where you will have the opportunity to reflect on your experiences with your assessor. 

Foundation to Foster is just the beginning of your training journey, and we are committed to supporting you every step of the way. 


Stage 5 – The panel and ADM 


The final step, attending the panel, may seem intimidating, but it’s an important part of the process. 

This team of at least five professionals, with diverse backgrounds in health, education, and social care, will review your fostering report with the utmost care. 

They want to ensure that you’re fully equipped to provide a nurturing environment for a child in need. Once their recommendation is passed to our Agency Decision Maker (ADM), who is completely independent, the real excitement kicks in. 

If approved, you’ll be registered as a foster carer with Family Care! 

From there, our placement officers will work diligently to match you with your first foster child. 

Your preferences around age, needs, and other important factors will guide the search. 

The length of the foster placement entirely depends on the type of fostering you would like to do.

The average age of a foster child living with our foster families is 9 years old, and the average length that a young adolescent spends living in the foster home is two and a half years. 


Enquire with a local fostering agency today


Our support for foster carers


As a foster carer, you play a pivotal role in shaping a young person’s life. 

That’s why providing you with the support you need is essential for achieving the best outcomes. 

At our agency, we understand this and pride ourselves on the support we offer our foster parents. 

We know that taking care of a child can be overwhelming at times, so we provide you with a supervising social worker, in-house therapists, and administrative support to help you every step of the way. 

Whether you need someone to talk to or require practical assistance, we’re always just a phone call away. 

Our goal is to ensure that foster parenting is a positive and rewarding experience for both you and the foster child in your care.


Around the clock phone support


At times, life can throw us unexpected challenges that can leave us feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. 

As a foster carer, you may face crisis emergencies that require immediate action and guidance. That’s why we are proud to offer 24/7 phone support with management response to all our foster carers. 

You can rest assured that no matter what time of day or night it is, if you need help, someone will be there to provide it. 

Our support team is trained to handle crisis situations and provide practical advice and emotional support when you need it the most. 

At the end of the day, we are here to support you and the young person in your care, and we take that responsibility very seriously.


Your supervising social worker


Your supervising social worker (SSW) is definitely your go-to person when it comes to fostering. 

They’re the one who provides support and guidance throughout the whole journey. 

From meeting with other professionals to completing training plans and directing you on what steps to take, your SSW is by your side all the way. 

They care about you and your foster family, and they will ensure that you have everything you need to make your fostering experience a positive one. 

And who doesn’t like a friendly hello every now and then? Your SSW will keep in touch with you regularly, so you always have someone to talk to


Your foster care support workers 


At our support services, we take pride in organising exciting activities for children that not only provide a sense of fun and adventure but also foster social skills and learning. 

From organising play sessions and consultations to liaising with foster families, our team works tirelessly to ensure that children are happy and thriving. 

In fact, we plan 15-20 activities every year, including a summer residential trip to PGL – a highlight for many of our young people. 

Our activities generally take place during school holidays, and we ensure that our programmes are engaging and educational, providing an enriching experience for all.


Specialist support for foster parents 


Not only do our foster carers have access to a team of in-house therapeutic practitioners, but these specialists are also dedicated to ensuring that the specific needs of your young person are met. 

We understand that each child is unique and may require tailored care, which is why our therapists are trained to help support you in delivering the best possible care. 

By taking a therapeutically-informed approach, children in foster care can truly thrive and reach their full potential. 

We pride ourselves on maintaining the highest standards of care and support, and our team of specialists will be with you every step of the way.  


Training for our foster carers


At Family Care, we believe that supporting a young person is more than just about giving them a home, it’s about equipping you with the right skills and knowledge to provide them with the best care possible. 

That’s why we offer a full calendar of foster carer training events that cater to both online and face-to-face training courses. 

Planning ahead is essential, which is why our training calendar is issued every November, giving you the chance to earmark the courses you want to attend, as well as the ones you need to. 

We’ll help you personalise your training with your Supervising Social Worker to create a Carer Development Plan that will meet your needs. 

Not only that, but our foster carers have the fantastic opportunity of completing a Level 3 or Level 5 Diploma in Children’s and Young People’s Workforce, fully funded by us. 

Once you have completed the Level 3 Diploma, you will be rewarded with an increase in your fostering allowance, once you have completed your mandatory training.

We want to help you reach your full potential and fulfil your role as a vital member of a young person’s life.

You can learn more about our training for foster carers here. 


Fostering information brochure
Request your free fostering brochure today


Our requirements to become a foster parent


Becoming a foster parent in the UK is actually more doable than you might think! With just three simple requirements to meet, it’s not as daunting as it may seem. 

Firstly, you’ll need to have a spare bedroom that’s big enough for a child or young person to sleep in – this is a crucial part of providing a safe and comfortable home for them. 

Secondly, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old and able to demonstrate your maturity and responsibility. 

Finally, you’ll need to either have British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 

If you’re considering becoming a foster parent, be sure to check out our list of 7 Essential Traits All Foster Carers Need. With these skills and qualities, you’ll be well on your way to making a positive difference in a child’s life.


Why Family Care?


At Family Care, we take great pride in our mission to significantly improve the lives of the children and young people in our care. 

This is an important responsibility that we take very seriously, and we have put together a team of experienced and compassionate professionals to help us achieve this goal. 

Our staff and foster carers are all treated with the utmost respect and professionalism, and we are committed to supporting you every step of the way. 

You will receive high-quality training and support from our therapeutic practitioners, support workers and social workers, and you will be fully valued and recognised for the important work you do. 

Best of all, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a small, friendly team that is dedicated to making a meaningful difference in the lives of young people.



Becoming a foster parent is a rewarding and fulfilling experience that can make a profound difference in the lives of vulnerable young people. 

Through the assessment process, training, and ongoing support from our team, you will be well-equipped to provide a safe and nurturing home for children and adolescents in need.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, we encourage you to take the first step by reaching out to us for an initial enquiry or give us a call on 0800 5 677677

Our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process. 

You can also take a short quiz on our website to see if you meet the basic criteria for becoming a foster carer.

Together, we can work towards creating brighter futures for children and adolescents in need of foster care. 

Your willingness to open your heart and home can truly make a lasting impact on their lives. 

Start your journey to become a foster parent today and join us in making a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable young people.

Complete our short online enquiry form today or give us a call on 0800 5 677677.


Healing Pasts | Building Futures
Since 1988

0800 5 677 677

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109 children come into care every day in the UK...