Fostering FAQs

Becoming a foster carer is a big decision and we're sure that you'll have lots of questions.

Request your free guide to fostering today

Below are our most frequently asked fostering questions.

What are the requirements?

Yes. Foster children need to have a safe place they can call their own. As a minimum a spare bedroom requires; a window, a door, a bed, storage (wardrobe/drawers), desk and chair, floor space (enough to play) and radiator or wall heater. If you have a spare room but it's not quite ready to welcome a foster child please contact us, we'd be happy to help.

Learn the importance of a spare room

No. During your fostering journey with Action for Children Fostering we’ll provide you with all the training and skills you'll need. All the training you receive at Action for Children Fostering is free and either online or at a place local to you.

Training you

No. You can be in a rented home as long as you have a spare room but you'll need permission from your landlord. We will also carry out a home safety check which your landlord will need to be aware of and approve if any changes are required.

No. It’s not a requirement for approval in the Action for Children Fostering process to have a driving license but this does differ between agencies. It is definitely beneficial though and there may be some circumstances where not having one may prevent your ability to foster; for example, if you live in a rural area.

Yes. Foster children need to have a safe place they can call their own.

Going to live in a new home with a new family can be extremely overwhelming.

Having a place where they feel secure and can go to if they want to be on their own or feeling anxious is vital.

Yes. We want to make sure fostering is in your best interests as well as the children you could be looking after. This is done through your own GP and will not be invasive or unnecessarily intrusive.

Your GP will complete an assessment form which will be reviewed by our medical professionals. They will then confirm if you are “fit to foster”.

We’re not expecting anyone to be marathon runners, just to have enough energy to look after a child and general good health and wellbeing.

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Who can foster

Read more about the criteria to become a foster carer

Who can foster a child?

Tax and National Insurance

No. In our experience most foster carers can complete their own self-assessment tax return form. We’re here to help if you have any difficulties.

Fostering and income tax

Self-employed Foster Carers

Yes. Foster carers are classed as self-employed and have to submit an annual self-assessment tax return. However, a special tax exemption for foster carers allows them to earn £18,140 from fostering tax free. Generally, because of this and as other unique tax allowances for foster carers, the amount of tax payable is usually nothing or very low and certainly less than other types of employment.

Fostering and income tax

Yes. Special tax arrangements are applied to fostering fees known as the Qualifying Care Relief tax scheme.

Tax and foster care

Yes. All foster carers must become registered, with HM Customs & Revenue (HMRC) as self-employed. This has to be done within 6 months of the end of the first tax year that you are approved in.

Self-employed foster care

Yes. NICs are payable to enable you to claim certain state benefits and the State Pension.

Yes. There is an appeal process but you'd need to prove that you were unaware you had to register. All foster carers must become registered with HM Customs & Revenue (HMRC) as self-employed.

This has to be done within 6 months of the end of the first tax year that you are approved in. There is also a deadline each year by which you have to file your annual tax return. Failure to do this on time could also result in a fine. You will be reminded by HMRC when your tax return is due.

Find out more about income tax

Self-employed fostering

Yes. All foster carers must become registered with HM Customs & Revenue (HMRC) as self-employed. This has to be done within 6 months of the end of the first tax year that you are approved in.

Self-employed foster carers

Yes. The end of the tax year is 5 April. After this date, paper tax returns must be completed by 31 October and online tax returns must be completed by 31 January.

Fostering and income tax

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Speak to your local team

We have teams across the UK so you will be able to speak, confidentially, to a fostering professional local to you.

Get in touch

Pensions and benefits

Yes. Foster carers are eligible for National Insurance (NI) credits, which count towards the basic and additional state pension.

Yes. Although you will need to check with your local authority to see if fostering affects your claims.

State benefits and pensions

Yes. You may be eligible for a council tax discount but it will depend on your individual circumstances and which local authority you're with.

Yes. Receiving your fostering fees and allowances does not take away your eligibility to claim most state benefits.

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Request your free guide to fostering

Want to know more about fostering with us? Request your free guide to fostering today.

Guide to fostering

Working and fees

Yes. We want you to know that you can afford to care for a child. Action for Children Fostering's weekly fee and allowances range from £370-£700.

Yes. It can be, but you could also have a part-time job while fostering. There are also different types of foster care that you could do on a short term basis. What we require is that you can be there for the child or young person when they need you. For example, when they come home from school or when they need to go to medical appointments. We'll discuss your particular circumstances with you in person.

Types of foster care

Find my local fostering service

Yes. You can work and foster but it will depend on your role and your availability to meet the needs of your foster child. We will discuss your specific situation when we meet with you.

It may determine the age of a child that you can foster as you will need to be home for them after school.

Find my local fostering service

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Fees and allowances

Read more about our fostering fees and allowances.

Fees and allowances

About the children

Yes. The appropriate amount would be dependent on their age. You also need to open a savings account for any foster child in your care for longer than one month.

Part of the pocket money you provide must be placed in the savings account. This account goes with them when they leave your care and helps them to eventually achieve financial independence.

Each child or young person should have a minimum of £5 per week lodged in their savings account. For young people aged 15 or over this should be a minimum of £10 per week.

Where a carer has not made savings, Action for Children Fostering reserves the right to deduct the appropriate money retrospectively.

Yes. Some foster children have never been on holiday. This would be a great way to show them that they really are part of your family.

You will have to ask permission from your dedicated social worker and discuss any potential risks with them - it would be rare for them to say no. They will complete a planning checklist with you.

If your foster child requires a passport and doesn’t have one you will need to give your social worker plenty of notice in order to get this done. You cannot sign a passport application form on behalf of your foster child.

You will also need to get permission from the child’s parents, social services, or the court to take them abroad. The same process will apply for any proposed school or club trips.

Yes. Unless there are restrictions detailed in the placement plan, your foster child should be given, as far as possible, the same permissions as their peers would be granted by their parents.

Make them aware that you'll be contacting the friend’s parents to confirm arrangements and you should visit the friend’s household in advance to make sure you are happy with everything.

Exchange contact details with the responsible adult and make sure everyone knows the travel arrangements and timings of getting there and back again.

Overnight stays must be recorded.

If you have any queries or concerns, contact your dedicated social worker for advice.

Yes. We will share with you all the information we have about the child. It is vitally important that you understand any trauma, abuse, or behavioural issues a child may have so you can manage this in the best possible way. You'll already have had the training you need to do this.

We wouldn't place a child with you that you don't have the skills and training to manage. We would gather as much information as possible before a young person comes to live with you and discuss everything with you in advance.

It would only be in an emergency situation where we have limited time to gather this information, that we may not have the whole picture.

We would still share what we do know with you and continue to gather any missing details.

No. It depends on many things, mostly the circumstances of the child in your care. It may be that they only need to be with you for a short period of time but for some it's much longer. You can decide what type of foster care works best for you.

Yes. During the fostering process, we'll discuss your family and experiences and together we'll identify the best type of foster children to place with you.

We believe that it’s important to empower our foster carers and work collaboratively with you and involve you in decision-making to ensure you have the necessary resources and skills to meet the needs of the children and young people you care for.

Factors included in the decision to place a child or young person with you will include the age of the child, whether they have any additional needs, and your preferred type of foster care arrangement; such as long-term or short term.

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Our children

Find out more about our children.

Our children

General FAQs

Fostering is looking after a child or young person in your home who can’t live with their birth family.

No. Experience in looking after children is really helpful but we will give you all the training and support you need to be a great foster carer if you have the desire to do it.

No. Action for Children Fostering recognises that there are many types of mental health issue and we would discuss your particular circumstances in detail with you. As long as your condition, and any medication you may be taking on a daily basis, wouldn't affect your ability to care for a child in your home then this would not stop you from applying to be a foster carer.

Yes. The process to become foster carer can take up to 6-9 months from your initial contact. The assessment process usually takes around 4-6 months but does depend on individual circumstances.

Yes. Having a record that will show up on the background checks that we carry out will not automatically stop you from becoming a foster carer.

We will look at the type of offence that was committed and will take each application on an individual basis.

There are certain offences that would prevent an application from progressing including any offence against a child and sexual offences.

Yes. Having a disability won’t automatically stop you from becoming a foster carer. A medical assessment is carried out on all potential carers to determine an individual's suitability to become a foster carer. This medical assessment is carried out by your own GP and paid for by Action for Children Fostering.

Yes. We need foster carers for planned breaks and short-term stays as well as long term.

Yes. The Foster Carer Agreement includes a clause in which the carers agree to arrange adequate insurance cover for:

  • Household contents insurance
  • Buildings insurance
  • Motor vehicle insurance
  • Holiday insurance (non-UK)

Carers need to maintain appropriate levels of insurance cover, ensuring that their insurers have been informed that they're fostering. You will need to provide Action for Children Fostering with a copy of your current insurance certificates for your file.

Foster carers who rent their accommodation would need to inform the owners in writing that they are fostering so that they are able to check the adequacy of their cover.

No. There is no upper age limit to fostering but you must be fit and healthy. Every potential foster carer will need to have a medical, paid for by Action for Children Fostering.

We review all carers annually to reassess their suitability. As foster carers become older their ability to undertake more strenuous and demanding forms of care may decline.

If health issues arise we will seek advice from a medical professional to determine a foster carer’s suitability to continue the role.

Yes. We’ll need to discuss how you will be able to manage the needs of your own child/children and a foster child but it is often a real benefit for a foster child to become part of a loving and welcoming family.

Yes. If your current situation is very challenging a meeting will be arranged to include everyone concerned to discuss the best way forward for both you and the young person involved.

Termination of a current fostering arrangement would usually be the result of more than one event and the decision will not be taken lightly.

It is always preferable to plan events around when a young person is due to leave your care and not to end it abruptly. We do not expect you to commit to fostering for life but we do expect you to commit to your current fostering arrangement for its complete duration, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The training you will receive at Action for Children Fostering should equip you to deal with many challenging situations. Our 24/7 year-round direct access to a qualified professional is there to support you whenever you need us.

Yes. Many people wrongly assume that their sexuality could prevent them from becoming a foster carer.

It is illegal to discriminate against foster carers on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

We welcome potential foster carers from all walks of life.

Yes. Your support network will be really important though. We’ll talk to you about your family, friends, and neighbours and also let you know what support we can give you.

Yes. Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA) are independent of local authorities (LA), although we work closely alongside them to ensure we get the best possible match between foster carers and the children who need a safe and loving home.

Cared for children still come into the system through local authorities. But if they do not have their own approved foster carers to place them with, the LA can arrange for the young person to stay with an IFA's foster carer.

No. Action for Children Fostering is a charity and does not profit from fostering services.

Yes. It’s up to you who you choose to foster through. It’s quite straightforward, we’ll guide and support you throughout the transfer process.

Find out more: Transfer to us

Yes. Although you must provide a smoke-free environment for your young person and ensure that there is no residual smoke, smoke toxins, or smell of smoke in their clothing.

Smoking/vaping will impact on the age of the child you are able to foster. Other restrictions include not smoking/vaping around the child, in the house, or in the car.

Yes. Although it does depend on how many and what breed they are.

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Speak to your local team

We have teams across the UK so you will be able to speak, confidentially, to a fostering professional local to you.

Get in touch