Who can foster?

Children and young people need foster carers from all backgrounds with a wide range of life, work and care experiences. All foster carers are given ongoing training and support to develop the skills they need to help children thrive.

Just as no two children are the same, foster carers need to come from a variety of backgrounds and have different life experiences, skills and qualities to help meet the needs of children and young people in foster care. You can be a foster carer without having any specific qualifications, and you don't need to have children of your own. What's important is that you can support, nurture and care for children who cannot live with their own families.


Can I be a foster carer?

In general, you can explore becoming a foster carer if you:

  • are at least 18 years old (although some fostering services will want you to be 21)

  • have a spare bedroom in your home

  • are living in the UK, in your own home or with a secure rental agreement

  • are willing and able to provide care for a child or young person as if they were your own


If you don't meet all of these criteria, have an open conversation with the fostering service you would like to join. There are lots of factors that fostering services will think about to help them decide who can provide the best care for a child.  


What makes me proud to foster is watching my foster child achieve what others thought she wouldn't.

           Claire, foster carer.


What else should I think about?

As part of the assessment process, most fostering services will want to know more about you. You might be asked questions about:

  • Your health – are you fit and well enough to foster a child now? Do you have any health problems that might make fostering more difficult in the future?
  • Your finances – can you afford to be a foster carer?
  • Your home – is your house safe and suitable for children or young people to live in?
  • Your friends and family – who are the people who can support you while you foster and how will they do this?
  • Your past – have you lived abroad, or do you have a criminal record (a small number of offences will automatically preclude you)
  • Your experience with children and young people – have you looked after children before, through family, work, or volunteering?


You will also be asked about your reasons for wanting to be a foster carer. For example:

  • Why do you want to work with children and young people?
  • Can you support children and young people, nurture them, communicate with them, advocate on their behalf and include them as part of your family?
  • Will you work as part of a team, and take part in training and learning to develop your skills?


It's so rewarding seeing the children change from being frightened of the future to believing they have a future.

           Catherine, foster carer.


Did you know?

People often think they can't foster because of fostering myths like, 'I can't foster if I'm single', 'I can't foster if I'm gay', or 'I can't foster if I don't have my own children'. But these things are not important to being a foster carer and will not stop you from fostering. Find out more about fostering myths.


Becoming a foster carer is the best thing I've ever done.

            Alan, foster carer for over 20 years.


How do I find out more?


Fostering is the best thing we've ever done. We've loved and cared for some fabulous children who've gone on to flourish in their lives.

           Paul and Michael, foster carers.


If you don't think fostering is for you, but would still like help make fostering the best it can be, please consider making a donation to The Fostering Network to support our work.