Preparing for your call

If you're new to The Fostering Network or haven't asked us for advice before, you might find it useful to read about who we can help, how we can help, and how you can get the most out of your call.

What's on this page?


Who we can help

Our advice and information services are for foster carers (including prospective foster carers), fostering services and other adults involved in fostering, in any part of the UK. We're not trained to provide advice and information to children and young people, although we'll always do our best to help. 

If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you do not have to be a member of The Fostering Network to get in touch with us: anyone can call. In England, our dedicated Member Helpline offers information, advice and support exclusively to members of The Fostering Network. Find out more about becoming a member of The Fostering Network. 


How we can help you

We can give you advice, information and support on any issue or question to do with fostering. People get in touch with us for lots of reasons, including:

  • practical issues such as tax and National Insurance
  • coping with an allegation
  • the day-to-day care of a child or young person
  • understanding fostering legislation, guidance and best practice
  • managing changes in a fostering relationship.

Whatever your reason, we're here to listen, understand and help you find a way to move forward. 

What we can't help with

  • We're not qualified to give financial, legal or medical advice. Instead, we can talk these issues through with you in general terms, and signpost you to specialist organisations if you need more help.
  • We cannot provide counselling or ongoing emotional support.
  • We cannot find foster carers for children and young people, or provide funding for children and young people, foster carers or fostering services. 
  • We are not able to take on 'casework' or represent you at meetings or fostering panels. In some cases, we may be able to provide more intensive one-to-one support for a limited time, to help you prepare for these meetings.
  • As a UK-based service, we cannot offer information and advice about fostering issues outside the UK.


Preparing for your call

Many people find it helpful to do a small amount of preparation before calling us. This can be particularly helpful if you're feeling anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated or unsure about where to begin: 

  • Try to find somewhere quiet to make the call. Think about whether you can be overheard, especially by any children or young people in your home.
  • Try to make sure you won't be interrupted. Your call may take up to 40 minutes, so set aside some time to talk.
  • Write down any questions you want to ask and any important information you want to tell us. This can help if you're feeling anxious or upset.
  • It may also be helpful to have a pen and paper to hand, or a device to take notes on during the call. We will usually send you a message after the call with the information and advice we've discussed, but you may want to take your own notes as we go along. 
  • Think about what you want to get from the call. Our advisers may ask you what your ideal outcome is, so it can be helpful to have given this some thought already.

Although we do our best to answer every call quickly, our services get very busy, so you may not be able to speak to us straight away. If you have to leave us a message, please speak slowly and clearly, and include your name and telephone number so we can return your call. We will always return your call and aim to do so as soon as possible.


Confidentiality and data protection

During a call, we may ask for some personal details from you. For example, we may ask for your name and postcode if we need to confirm you're a member of The Fostering Network. 

We take our data protection responsibilities very seriously and will never sell your data. Read our Privacy Statement. 

We treat all calls as confidential. This means we won't share anything about our conversation with anyone else without your permission. However, there are a few exceptional circumstances where calls cannot remain confidential. These include (but are not limited to) situations where:

  • a child is at risk of harm, or has been harmed
  • a vulnerable adult is at risk or harm, or has been harmed
  • a person may be at serious risk of harming themselves or others
  • a terrorist threat or other serious threat has been made
  • our staff are being threatened or abused, or someone is preventing our Helplines operating


In any situation where we may have to break confidentiality, we will make reasonable efforts to let you know what actions we're taking.


Tell us how we're doing

We are committed to providing the best possible service to foster carers, fostering services and others involved in fostering, in all parts of the UK.

You can help us to improve our services by telling us what you think of them. We want to hear all of your comments good or bad. Please complete our three-question survey (it will only take a minute!) or send us an email if you have more to share with us.


Published: January 2023