If you've considered fostering but don’t think you’re eligible because of your age, gender, marital status etc, it's time to think again. Whether you’re old or young, married or single, male or female, gay or straight, renting or a homeowner - you can foster.

Fostering isn't about your personal circumstances or background, it's about the support you can offer a child. Here we look at the truth behind some common fostering myths.

"I don't think I'm the right age."

Nearly half (44%) of the nation thinks that if you're over 55 you can’t be a foster carer. As a general rule, we like foster carers to be over 21 years old but we don't have any upper age limits. All we ask is that you have enough energy and experience to take care of lively children. Almost 10% of our foster carers are over 60 and 3% are under 30.

For Maggie, who is 64, fostering is helping to keep her young.

I was a little worried at first because of my age, however I was surprised and relieved when I made the first call to hear on the phone that I was absolutely eligible.

Maggie, foster carer

Maggie feels that the knowledge and skills she has picked up over the years as a mother and grandmother are invaluable in helping a child’s development. She continues: “Age shouldn't be a barrier, and it isn't a barrier. I truly believe people my age are ideal foster parents.” Read Maggie’s story

"I'm male."

Nearly a fifth (16%) of people believe that if you're a man you can’t foster. Both women and men make great foster carers, and almost half of ours are male. If you have energy, resilience and understanding, you can help to transform a child's life.

Steve, 52, has been working with one of our fostering projects in South Wales for three years. His son’s girlfriend and her four brothers had all been fostered by us and, after hearing her story, Steve knew this was his calling and contacted us immediately. Read Steve's story

Steve, foster carer
I thought being a single man I would have a lot of barriers that I would have to get through but with Action for Children this wasn't the case, as soon as I picked up the phone I felt reassured and welcomed and the application process began immediately.
Steve, foster carer

"I'm gay."

1 in 3 people assume that if you're gay you can’t foster. Whether you're straight, gay or lesbian, we welcome applications from people who can bring different skills, knowledge and life experiences to fostering.

Tracy and Jenny, from the Isle of Skye, were the first same sex couple to foster in Scotland when the law changed granting same sex couples equal rights to straight married couples. Read their story

When we were applying to become carers even though it had just become legal we were a little apprehensive, especially as there was no one else in the same situation as us. But we thought if we never try we will never know so we decided to take this journey on together.

Tracy, foster carer

"I don't own my home."

1 in 3 people believe if you live in rented accommodation you can’t foster. You don't need to own your house - as long as each child can have their own bedroom you can foster. Some of our foster carers rent and some own their homes.

Shelley, 39, rents her home and has been a foster carer for a year. When she applied she was worried that her housing status would delay the fostering process, but soon realised that it wasn’t going to be a problem. Read Shelley's story

It’s totally untrue that people renting properties aren't considered for looking after foster children. As long as you pay your rent on time and you can provide a stable home and family, you stand a very good chance of becoming a foster carer.

Shelley, foster carer

   

"I don't have children."

Although having your own children is a great way to gain experience and knowledge, you don't have to be a parent to foster. All we ask is that you've cared for children or young people through family contact, volunteering or your job. If you do have your own children living at home, we'll carefully match those you foster to the needs of your family and circumstances.

"I'm single."

We don't mind whether you’re married or not. Almost 30% of our foster carers are single, but they can also be married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner.

"I haven't worked with children or young people."

Almost 60% of our foster carers come from jobs unrelated to childcare. These range from taxi driving to accountancy to running a fish and chip shop. We'll offer you training, development and support so you're prepared for the challenges and rewards of fostering. We just need you to have some experience caring for children or young people through your family or volunteering.

After more than 30 years in hotel and catering management, Nigel decided to try fostering. He's enjoying the challenges and rewards it offers, and would encourage others to consider a career as a foster carer. Read Nigel's story

You might not think that you have the necessary skills to foster but really it is a case of using your own life skills and experiences to help a foster child.

Nigel, foster carer

Margaret, foster carer

"I don't think they recruit carers from my ethnic group."

We need all types of carers to reflect the types of children and young people who need a place to stay when they can't live with their birth families. We welcome applications from people who can bring different skills, knowledge and life experiences to the fostering role, whatever their ethnicity.

"I can't afford to give up work."

1 in 3 people think you need to remain in full-time employment and are unaware that carers are given financial support. We know fostering is challenging work that needs to be recognised – by receiving fees and allowances, carers can focus their time and skills on caring for children and young people.

Find out more

Find out how to become a foster parent and learn about the different types of fostering.

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