I am retired, can I foster?
There are no official upper age limits. As long as you are reasonably fit, healthy and have the energy to make a commitment to care for other people’s children for some years, then you can foster.
I am single, can I foster?
You can be a married or unmarried couple, single - male or female. It doesn't matter if you are a parent or not.
I am LGBT+, can I foster?
We welcome applications from single people and couples who can bring different skills, knowledge and life experiences to the fostering role. We are interested in stability and your ability to care for children.
I don’t have specific qualifications, can I foster?
You won't need any special qualifications – but you will need a practical understanding of children and their needs. We'll give you the training you need as a foster carer, and we’ll expect all adults in the household to attend the skills to foster course as part of your assessment.
Training and development is a core part of being the main foster carer. You must attain the national training standards and complete mandatory courses within a given timescale.
I have a disability, can I foster?
Everyone who applies to foster is required to undergo a medical as part of the assessment process to ensure you can offer stability, can care for a child and meet the other demands of the role. Our medical advisor reviews all applications to foster from a physical and emotional health perspective. They make recommendations on a person's ability to meet the role requirements including how fostering will fit with their individual circumstances too.
I smoke, can I foster?
You will not be excluded on the grounds you smoke, but you must stop smoking in the family home. No child aged less than five years or with respiratory or similar health conditions will be placed in a smoking household. Northumberland County Council encourages participation in a smoking cessation programme.
I have a health issue, can I foster?
There are few things that would prevent you from offering care to children. You must undergo a medical and be physically and emotionally fit to be a foster carer. If you are not sure, please get in touch - we would rather you ask than rule yourself out.
I’ve had depression – can I still foster?
Yes. Past mental health problems, or any other health problems, will not exclude you from becoming a foster carer. As fostering can be stressful at times, like a lot of jobs, it is important we all consider the emotional impact fostering may have on your mental health. We have a responsibility to ensure we are looking after you and your family, and fostering is right for you at this time. A medical is requested from your GP for our looked-after children’s doctor to review as part of the assessment.
I want to continue work, can I foster?
Yes. Depending on your other commitments and level of flexilibility within your job, you may want to consider fostering on a part-time basis, such as providing respite care at weekends and school holidays, or you can join us as full-time foster carers.
As long as you can make a regular commitment, our team are here to guide you about feasible options for you and the children who need your care. Our greatest need is for full-time foster carers who do not have any other work commitments.
I (or a member of my household) have a criminal conviction, can I foster?
Criminal convictions do not necessarily ban you from fostering. Much depends on the seriousness of the offence, how long ago the crime was committed and how you have lived your life since. You cannot foster if you have committed serious offences, like violence, or any offences against children.
Any other criminal convictions and cautions will be considered by the head of children’s services, who will decide whether or not an application can proceed. All household members aged 16 or over, need to agree to an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check, and any other additional safeguarding measures considered by the agency to be appropriate.
I don’t drive, can I foster?
Yes, but you must have the capacity and means to meet the travel and transport requirements of the role. These include transporting children to school, family contact and social activities; and for you to attend meetings, support groups and training etc.
My son/daughter have questions about fostering. Where can they find information?
Click here to view our Children Who Foster booklet
Our recruitment officer and team can answer questions from your children and family as you progress through your application. In the meantime, please see our guide which was developed by children who foster.
Why do you need to contact my past partners?
We consider past partners where you have lived together for more than two years, been married or parented children together. Contacting ex-partners during an assessment is standard practice within Northumberland. The independent review mechanism, which investigates practice into how adoption and fostering assessments are conducted in England, advises it is good practice to contact all ex-partners. It's also useful to obtain references from both families when 'it was apparent there had been acrimonious separations' (British Adoption and Fostering: IRM Annual Report 2010/2011).
We appreciate people can be apprehensive about this, particularly when the relationship didn't end amicably. However, the foster care social worker is trained to assess responses accurately and judge this against other positive information available.
Contacting an ex-partner is more relevant when you have parented together. This information is essential to developing our understanding of you as a parent. Unless there are issues relating to domestic violence, or those that would put the applicant or children at risk in any way, contact would need to be made with an ex-partner. Depending on individual circumstances, we may also choose to contact past partners where there has not been any shared parenting. If you have any concerns or queries about this, please talk to the team.