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children are in care in England
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foster families in England
Learn about foster care
What is foster care?
Fostering is when a child or young person comes to live with you in your home. Children move into foster homes for many reasons, usually because they are unable to live with their own family. The most important thing to remember is that it is never through any fault of the child or young person, and that they deserve the same care and love as any other child.
Watch the video on the left to learn the answers to some common fostering questions.
Types of foster care
Fostering can achieve amazing results for children and young people. It replicates family life and offers stability, safety and security. By matching a young person to the right foster parent for them, we can make sure the long-term placement works for both parties.
Young people can remain with your family for years, sometimes their whole childhood. Stable relationships are really important for children, so we will support you and the child in your care to make sure everyone in your family is happy.
This can be a viable option for young people waiting to be adopted or who have come into care on an emergency basis. They can live with foster carers for up to a couple of months whilst awaiting a more permanent placement or going back to live with their family.
Sometimes a new parent may need extra support to look after their baby, so they move in with a foster carer for a set period of time. With the support of their foster carer, the parent can learn the skills they will need for the future, before moving onto living independently.
Fostering is for children age 0-18 but sometimes young people can stay with their foster carer past their 18th birthday. This is called Staying Put and gives a young person more time to prepare for living independently, with the support of their foster carers.
Unfortunately we do not recruit respite only carers, as we are looking for foster families who can look after young people full-time.
Who can foster?
Foster carers need to be empathetic, compassionate and patient. As every child is different with their own individual needs, we welcome prospective foster carers of all sexualities, marital statuses, religions and life experiences so that we can find the perfect match for every young person.
You will need to:
There is no age limit for someone to become a foster carer. We have St Christopher’s foster carers of all ages, from their twenties to their seventies.
We recognise that older people can bring a lot of life experience to fostering that could come in useful when looking after a child, just as younger foster carers may have a better understanding of the issues facing today’s young people.
Yes! Your marital status has no impact on your fostering application. Some young people are actually better suited to living with only one parent, so we need single foster carers just as much as couples.
Because St Christopher’s is a small fostering agency, it means we can offer extra support that larger organisations can’t give. As a single carer you will need a good support network of family and friends around you to help out, but our team are on hand 24/7 to help with anything else you might need too.
Of course – whether you’re single or in a couple, we encourage applications from the LGBT community. Sometimes a child may feel more comfortable with a gay foster carer as they will have a better understanding of their experiences and the support they need.
Yes, we do. Although St Christopher’s was founded as a Christian organisation, we no longer have religious ties. We welcome foster carers from all faiths and backgrounds and use this information to match a child to the right foster family.
Foster parents have to be open to the religious needs of the young person they are caring for, whether it’s by taking them to religious venues or celebrating special events.
We accept transfer applications from existing foster carers. Get in touch with us to find out how the process works.
What’s it like to be a foster parent?
Foster carers do all the things that good parents do – help children with homework, support them if they are upset, and show them what life can be like in a happy family. They give young people the opportunity to enjoy their childhood in a safe, caring home.
As they grow older, you will teach a young person the skills they’ll need for living independently. Whether it’s cooking, paying bills or generally looking after themselves, foster carers are there even for the small things.
Watch the video on the left to hear from Keith, a St Christopher’s carer, about his experiences of fostering.
Where you can foster with St Christopher's
Support and training
Because we are an independent fostering charity, we can offer an extra level of support. Our team are there to support your entire family in a way that works for you.
You will undertake introductory training to prepare you for becoming a foster carer, with regular training available throughout your fostering career.
Meet the team
Amy joined St Christopher’s in 2015 and works one-to-one with young people up to the age of 18. The sessions are led by the young person’s needs. One of her goals is to highlight the different things in life that are open to young people, especially the things they may not have considered. Amy’s approach is to understand where their talents and interests lie, and then work together on removing any obstacles to develop those talents and interests. Ultimately, her work with young people is about building a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, and empowering them to get more out of life.
Annette has 25 years’ experience as a social worker and has worked in a variety of residential settings, adoption and fostering services, and as a commissioner for children’s services. She oversees St Christopher’s fostering services and is part of The Fairer Fostering panel, a group for charitable fostering agencies.
Barbara has been a qualified Social Worker since 2003. For the past twelve years she has worked within the fostering field. She believes that fostering is both rewarding and challenging and enjoys working with and supporting foster carers to make a difference to a child’s life. Barbara enjoys delivering training to our foster carers and loves watching them grow and develop.
Debbie has worked at St Christopher’s since 2008 and has extensive experience in the charity sector. Debbie manages the panel that recommends new carers to foster for St Christopher’s and meets them again when they return for their Annual Reviews. In her personal life she has some experience as a family and friends foster carer so really enjoys working with our fostering teams. She has also volunteered for children’s charities and really enjoys following our foster carers’ journeys.
Katya has worked in Independent Fostering Agencies since 2003 and has been a qualified social worker since 2013. She enjoys working closely with foster carers and the children they look after, building strong and supportive relationships and helping to work towards positive outcomes. She has greatly enjoyed her time at St Christopher’s so far and looks forward to many more years of supporting carers and the children they care for to grow and flourish.
Mairéad qualified as a social worker in 2001. She has worked in a variety of settings both in Ireland and England including child and family team, mental health, family group meetings and adoption support. She joined St Christopher’s in June 2021 as a Senior Supervising Social Worker in fostering. She enjoys promoting and supporting fostering to ensure the best possible homes and care for children. The child is at the heart of what she does and she likes to support carers in understanding both the previous and inner experiences of the child to ensure stability and to enable them to fulfill their full potential.
Marcus is dedicated and passionate about supporting children and young people with issues and experiences that they may face through their experiences of being in care. He aims to empower young people and offer guidance throughout their transition into independence and adulthood. He is a firm believer that “the youth of today impacts the youth of tomorrow”. Before moving into youth work, Marcus was an apprentice trainee at Walsall and West Bromwich Albion football clubs and completed a foundation degree in youth and community work.
Nicky has worked in social care for more than 35 years in residential care and in frontline child protection work. In 1993 she found her niche working in fostering. She believes that foster parents are a special breed of people who have the ability to turn around the lives of children in our society and, as such, they deserve the best support we can give them.
Pauline has more than 25 years’ experience as a social worker and has worked in residential, childcare and fostering services. As the Registered manager for the Eastern Region, Pauline is keen to build on the excellent work our foster families offer to achieve even more better outcomes for children in care.
Sonia qualified in 2011 with her predominate experience being in fostering. Sonia is passionate and enthusiastic, striving hard to achieve the best possible outcomes for the lives of children and young people through providing a high quality support to foster carers. Sonia thoroughly enjoys working for a charity, where the needs of children are at the forefront of everything we do.
Sunita has been working in social work since 2003. She has worked in varied social work teams, such as in an intake and assessment team, working with older adults, and specialised work with unaccompanied children, before moving to work in kinship care and fostering. Sunita supports foster carers who care for children and young people in their own homes, providing them with nurture and positive experiences that enable children and young people to flourish.
Allowances and fees
People become foster carers to help children and young people, but receiving their fostering fee stops them having to worry about the practical things in life, like paying bills and buying groceries.
As St Christopher’s is a charity, any surplus money we make is put straight back into the children and young people we work with.
There are five parts to the application process to become a foster parent with St Christopher’s and it usually takes around six months to complete the process and be approved.
As we are a small fostering agency, we can spend time supporting you during the application process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Read answers to some of the most frequently asked fostering questions.
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 it’s like to foster in our online fostering guide.
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.
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.
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.