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Fostering

What is the difference between fostering and adoption?

Adoption is when you become the legal parent of a child who cannot live with their family. Fostering is looking after someone else’s child, whether for a short or longer period of time.

Find out more about what foster care is in our online fostering guide.

Why do I need a spare room for each foster child?

It’s important for children and young people to have space that is their own so they can invite people in or have time to themselves.

Very young brothers and sisters can share a room if they are part of a sibling group.

Do I need to own my own home?

No, you can foster if you live in rented accommodation. We’ll just need to check that your tenancy is stable and your home is suitable.

I live in council accommodation. Can you help me get a larger house so I can foster?

Unfortunately this is something you have to speak to your local authority about. We are an independent fostering agency so cannot help with housing changes.

Once you have spoken to your council please do get back in touch with us about fostering!

Can I work (full-time or part-time) and still be a foster carer?

Yes, as long as you can be flexible and work around the needs of the young person. This could involve attending meetings or being at home on a weekday.

There are lots of myths around eligibility for fostering, so find out who can foster.

Can I foster if I have a criminal record?

It is possible – however, some criminal offences will rule you out completely. We will work through the details and assess your individual circumstances before making a decision.

Can I foster if my children were in care?

Unfortunately you cannot become a foster carer if your own children were taken into care.

I have a long-term health condition. Can I foster?

Having a medical condition does not always rule you out of fostering. All carers undergo a medical with their GP as part of the application process, who then makes a recommendation on their ability to foster. All recommendations are reviewed by an independent advisor and are considered on an individual basis.

What if someone in my household smokes?

Research shows that health is adversely affected by passive smoking and that children are far more likely to smoke if people they regard as role models smoke. We therefore discourage foster carers from smoking in front of children and expect you to have clear arrangements in your home to ensure areas where children spend time are smoke free.

We would not place children aged below five or those with disabilities in a household where someone smokes.

Do I get a say in the age range and / or gender of the children I will look after?

St Christopher’s works with children of all ages, genders, ethnicities and religions. We use a matching system to choose the most appropriate carer and work with you to make sure you feel able to care for the young person. If there are any areas you feel uncertain about our team will provide additional support or training so that you are confident in your skills and can provide the right care.

We particularly need foster parents to care for teenagers and sibling groups of younger children.

Do you offer Staying Put placements?

Yes, we do. Staying Put gives young care leavers more time to prepare for independence and helps to sustain their relationship with their foster carer. We are supporting The Fostering Network’s campaign to improve usage of Staying Close so that more young people can benefit from this scheme.

For information on why Staying Close is important, read Jordan’s story.

Can I foster if I have pets?

Yes, you can. Pets are taken into consideration in your household assessment and further references may be sought from your vet. After an assessment has taken place some pets may be deemed unsuitable for fostering, whereas others can play a therapeutic role in your home.