Foster Care

Learn about fostering and how you can become a foster carer, including the variety of paid foster care roles you could offer to help children and young people. We are a friendly team ready to answer any questions you have. Call us on 01670 62 62 62 for an informal chat or email You can also attend a recruitment session near you or book a face to face session at our office.

​Fostering - fresh hope for young lives

Whether you want to give a youngster a temporary boost or take a major role in bringing a child up, we are always here to support you, from your initial enquiry to ongoing support.

Find out how you could be the perfect foster carer for one or more of the many children who need a loving home environment now.

Get your free guide to fostering here

Are you an experienced or current foster carer looking to transfer to the Northumberland team?

If you are or have fostered for another agency or council and would like to transfer to Northumberland, we would like to hear from you.

We are keen to recruit experienced foster carers.
The process is quicker than a standard application.
Please call us on 01670 62 62 62 or complete this online enquiry form.
Here you can find information on the variety of foster care roles you could offer to help the different needs of children and young people.

We are a friendly team ready to answer any questions you have.

Call us on 01670 62 62 62 or email for an informal chat
Foster care is looking after someone else’s children when it’s not possible for them to live with their own family.  This could happen for several reasons:
  • neglect or abuse by parents or other family members
  • adolescents in need of structure, boundaries and support
  • parent’s serious physical or mental illness
  • practical problems (i.e. unsupported single parents or poverty)
  • problems with relationships - parents and children need a break
  • moving in with a foster family after living in a residential children’s homes
  • supporting short breaks for children with disabilities and their families
The role of a foster carer
You’re responsible for the child’s everyday care needs and welfare.  You work with the local authority, parents and the child on any important decisions that have to be made about the child.

The aim is to help children return to their families or, if this is not possible, help them to move in with adoptive parents or a permanent foster family.

Fostering placements can last from one night to an entire childhood.  On average placements last about nine months.  The number of children in need of fostering in the UK far outweighs the number of carers, with a shortage of nearly 9,000 foster carers in the UK.

There are lots of different roles that cater for the varying needs of children and young people.  So please read through the following descriptions.

If you see a role that suits you and your household, please get in touch, as we need new foster carers now.  
Time-limited fostering ranges from a few nights to up to three years, helping children from birth to adulthood. Foster carers can offer emergency beds to help a family or foster family during a crisis but their main function is to provide short to medium term care, helping children to return home or move in with a new permanent family.

Click to read about the emergency 24 /7  foster care scheme for school age children

Northumberland County Council has introduced an exciting new 24/7 emergency foster care scheme to support school age children in placements up to 6 weeks.  This scheme pays a guaranteed fee and allowance every week of £360, plus additional allowances (NB: No tax is deducted from these fees or allowances).

If you are interested in 24 / 7 and can say yes to the following - please contact Caroline for an informal chat on 01670 62 62 62:
  • Significant experience working with school age children? 
  • Looking for a new challenge?
  • Have a spare bedroom?
  • Aged 25 or over?
  • Access to a car?
  • Can work as part of the team around the child, as well as independently?
  • Will actively support and encourage young people in their health and social development?
Sometimes children aren’t able to return to live with their own families and need a long-term or permanent foster family. Most of these children are already in short-term care, generally aged between seven and 12 years old. 

We urgently need more long-term foster carers, so children can move in and stay until they are ready to fly the nest. Long-term fostering allows a child to grow up in a safe and supported family environment while retaining the connection with their birth family.
Respite care can be offered for any family that needs extra support, including foster families.  This is usually for weekend or holiday placements for children and young people but can occasionally be required for weekdays.

Our short-break care service offers support to families who have disabled children.  By planning ahead and giving their children regular short breaks with the same foster carer, the families are supported to care for their children long-term.  Short breaks are usually two or three days.  Some occur weekly, others monthly and some just in the school holidays.

Respite and short break foster care is great for people who are not in a position to offer full-time foster care due to other work or personal commitments.  
We have children of all ages in need of foster care and all present different rewards and challenges to the foster carer.  

We ask people to take a step back from a common assumption that younger children are easier to care for.  We look to work with you, your experience and your skills to match you with children.  We may have a 3 year old with lots of challenging issues that we are helping them with, or a 15 year old with low level support requirements who simply needs to live within a stable home.   We look at age ranges as we get to know you throughout your application.

The greatest need across the UK is foster care for teenagers.  Our young people ask you:
  • to put yourself in their shoes
  • recall your own experiences of growing up
  • forget teenage stereotypes
  • to provide a supportive home-life environment
As a carer for teenagers, you’ll receive tailored support and training to help you and our young people succeed.

Staying together is usually very important for brothers and sisters.  They often need the security and comfort of each other as much as they need you.  We need people with multiple or large spare bedrooms to accommodate siblings.

Our young children in care council, Young Voices Making Choices, have developed some messages about why keeping brothers and sisters together is often so important. 

If you have the physical space in your home, please consider fostering siblings to help them stay together.
Some foster carers offer support to a mother or father who is experiencing difficulties.  In most cases, this involves offering a home to a mum and their baby.  Mum may be in care herself, or over 18 and her child is in care. 

As a parent and child foster carer you will:
  • help the parent develop parenting skills and responsibilities
  • observe and record how the parent looks after the child
  • provide parental care, if required, for the child 
Help keep siblings together

Staying together is usually very important for brothers and sisters.  They often need the security and comfort of each other as much as they need you.  We need people with multiple or large spare bedrooms to accommodate siblings.

Our young children in care council, Young Voices Making Choices, have developed some messages about why keeping brothers and sisters together is often so important. 

If you have the physical space in your home, please consider fostering siblings to help them stay together.
We have a small team of carers that work as part of a tight-knit project team, generally with children aged 10 plus.

These children need individual care, where there are no other children under the age of 16 in the household, and you must be able to use your own car.

This scheme has a limited number of vacancies. Details will be posted on the website when we are recruiting.
The recruitment eventss are informal, friendly and a great chance to find out more about foster care.

You can choose to call, pop in at one of the monthly office drop ins listed below, or come to one of our recruitment events held around the region.

While we need more foster carers urgently for school age children, sibling groups and long term permanent homes for children who cannot return home - there’s no pressure to sign-up at these events. We know foster care is very different from any other job, so we are here to help you decide if foster care is for you.

There’ll be a short presentation and video, followed by a chance to ask questions. You’ll also meet some current foster carers, young people, family placement social workers and our recruitment officer.

Your next foster care recruitment event:

19 SEP 2019, Thursday
17:00 – 18:30 - Tesco Extra - Brunton Ln, Kingston Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 2FP
Community Room (At the rear of the store - via escalator or lift)
13 NOV 2019, Wednesday
17:00 – 18:30 - Foster care recruitment event 
Hexham Auction Mart Function Suite
16 JAN 2020, Thursday
17:00 – 18:30 - Bedlington Community Centre, 60 West End Front St, Bedlington NE22 5UB
Phoenix room
17 MAR 2020, Tuesday
17:00 – 18:30 - Alnwick Adult Learning Centre, Lindisfarne Road, Alnwick, NE66 1AX
The old Middle School - The Hall

The sessions start at 5:15pm and usually last for about an hour.

To register or ask any questions, email Caroline Matthews on or call 01670 62 62 62.

Don't worry if you have not had time to register - please pop in on the night for a 5.15pm start on the night. 

We look forward to meeting you!
If you can't make one of our recruitment events, but would still like to meet up with our recruitment officer, we have a monthly drop in at the office.  They are usually on a Monday or Tuesday - please see the dates below:

Venue: Family Placement Service, 3 Esther Court, Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington, NE63 8AP
(The business park is next to the Old Ash Dene pub, on the bypass road between Asda and Aldi)

Time: 4 till 5pm

Tuesday 2nd April
Tuesday 7th May
Tuesday 4th June
Monday 1st July
Tuesday 13th August
Monday 2nd September
Here are some of our foster carers, children of foster carers and young people who have experience of being in care.

Please click to view this short video about what our foster carers get out of caring for children and young people

Click to view Jamie's success story, as told by his foster carer Bev

Fostering teens - A rewarding career

Reflecting on the first year


Growing up in foster care

Long-term foster care


Avril Pearson - International Women's Day

Diane Clark - International Women's Day

Lisa Ward - International Women's Day

Yolanda Minto - International Women's Day

Lots of different elements make a good foster carer.  Here is what some of our young people had to say:

Lots of different kinds of people make great foster carers, so don’t rule yourself out without looking into what’s involved.

Get your free guide to fostering here

You can foster:

  • if you are married, single, gay or straight
  • if you own or rent your home with a spare bedroom and enough room to care for a child in a safe, clean and secure environment
  • whatever your ethnicity, culture or religion
  • whether or not you already have children
  • if you work or are unemployed
  • if you are reasonably fit and have the energy to care for children
  • if you live in Northumberland or the nearby surrounding areas
  • if you are 25 or older, although people as young as 21 can be considered if you have significant care work experience. There is no upper age limit

You should:

  • have relevant life experience and personal or professional care skills
  • have enough time to meet the needs of the children and young people
  • understand that fostering can be very challenging
  • be committed to making a difference to children’s lives
  • be able to provide children with a nurturing and positive family environment
  • enjoy looking after children and young people
  • be able to work as part of a large and varied team
  • be patient, resilient, resourceful and flexible
The rest of the web site includes lots more information about the application process, frequently asked questions and videos of our foster carers and their experiences. 

We hope you are ready to take the next step - as we need more foster carers for children and young people now.  We find when people speak with us, we can answer the questions or concerns that have stopped them moving forward and help you decide if fostering is for you.  Please get in touch:
  • Call our recruitment officer Caroline on 01670 62 62 62.  (If you work full time, we can arrange an out of hours call to suit).
  • Request a call back or book a place on our next recruitment event by emailing 
  • Text your name, number and question to 07779 983 165

Find out how the foster care application process works, from your first step through to working as a foster carer.

We encourage you to make an enquiry as soon as you can.  Our recruitment officer will help to answer your initial questions. 

The initial enquiry is a very informal phone interview.  We take you through a series of questions which look at your current situation and options moving forward.  

If both you and the service are happy to move forward, we will book you in for a home interview with one of our Foster Care Social Workers, also called Supervising Social Workers.  If you have a partner, then they will also take part in this interview.

Your interviewing social worker will:
  • talk through the areas covered in your intial enquiry in more depth
  • help you to decide if fostering is right for you and your family
  • highlight the positives and negatives about fostering to give you a full picture of this complex role
  • answer any questions you may have about foster care
  • help you formally apply and progress to the next stage
Prospective foster carers attend a 3 day skills to foster course as a key part of the application process.  The course is the next step after your home interview, when you and the service manager agree to move to the next stage.  If you have a partner, then they also attend this course with you.

The course is relaxed and friendly and aims to:
  • provide lots more information about the knowledge and skills you’ll need
  • allow you to reflect on your values and attitudes towards foster care
  • clarify what fostering involves and the impact it will have on you and those close to you
The service runs four courses across the financial year - we look to book you in for the earliest possible course:
  • 9, 10 11 May 2018
  • 2, 3, 4 July 2018
  • 29, 30, 31 October 2018
  • 11, 12, 13 February 2019

Venue:  Fire Service Headquarters, West Hartford Business Park, Cramlington, NE23 3JP
A supervising social worker will visit you regularly over the assessment period, which takes around four months.

The aim of the assessment is for the service to get to know you and your household really well, so we can look to make the best matches between you, fostered children and the right type of foster care.  It covers all aspects of your life, especially your skills, strengths and areas for further training.  It will give you food for thought and learning along the way about the foster care role.

During that time your social worker will write a detailed ‘formal assessment report’, to which you will contribute.  Various documents and checks are needed to confirm you’re suitable to look after young people and identify the right type of fostering for you.

We’ll need to check:
  • local authority records
  • proof of identity - passport, driving licence, proof of residence, etc.
  • medical information from your GP
  • enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) - previously known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks
  • work and personal references
When your assessment report is complete, you’ll receive a copy to review and agree with your social worker before they present it to the fostering panel.   

The fostering panel is made up of independent experts, who consider the report before making a recommendation for you to be approved as a foster carer.  Their role is a type of quality assurance, to ensure that we have covered everything in your application and have prepared you and your family for the fostering role.

You are invited to attend the panel with your social worker.  We ask you not to be daunted by this part of the process, as while this is a formal meeting, they are a group of friendly professionals.  Your social worker will have already ironed out any concerns or highlighted areas for future development with you, before the report is submitted to panel.  After panel, your application is then formally approved by the Agency Decision Maker, who could be the children's service director or other senior manager.

At this point, you can look forward to signing your foster care agreement, your induction session, first child placement, meeting other foster carers, training courses and a whole lot more.
If you currently foster for another agency or council and would like to transfer to Northumberland, we would like to hear from you. We are keen to recruit experienced foster carers. The process is quicker than a standard application.
Whether you are new to fostering or experienced, the Northumberland team is here to support you every step of the way.

As a foster carer you’ll have your own dedicated supervising social worker.  They help with child placement, development and training and general day-to-day support.  Any child that is staying with you also has their own social worker, so you’ll have a network of professionals around you.

As well as your social worker, you’ll have a network of professionals, support groups and foster families to help you.  Your family and friends are part of your support network too. 

We'll always be at the end of a telephone line, buddy you up with an experienced foster carer, and give you financial support and discounts for venues and activities.

Beyond this, you will have free access to:
  • 24-hour emergency telephone support
  • - your secure professional email, website and document store
  • free training and development
  • a buddy mentor
  • a fee paid every week and generous fostering allowances
  • local support groups and a network of foster families
  • exclusive access to the Max Card scheme – discounts for activities and venues 
  • PLUS loads of benefits and additional advice with a Northumberland FosterTalk membership
​We usually try to maintain children in their current school, but sometimes they need to move for safety reasons.  Our services help fostered children and young people find places at school and give them additional educational support when they need it.

Education is a key part of a foster carer’s supporting role.  Our virtual school provides additional support for looked-after children and young people, which includes:
  • ensuring that looked-after children are prioritised and fast tracked wherever possible through school services within the council, e.g. school admissions
  • promoting the education of looked-after children
  • supporting schools and social care staff in the education of looked-after children
The health of children in care can be a significant issue because of past experiences of abuse, neglect or poverty.

We assist you in making sure fostered children's health needs are looked after and supported by medical professionals. 

The Northumberland health team helps foster carers make sure that their health needs are looked after through health assessments, action plans and support from medical professionals.
24-hour support is available for emergencies if a young person is in danger of harm or you’re dealing with an urgent situation out of normal working hours.

The team offers advice, guidance and support on the telephone and, in critical circumstances, can visit you depending on their resources.
All foster carers receive comprehensive training, free of charge, as part of the application process.  Once working as a foster carer, your social worker will agree a personal development plan, identifying your specific training needs.

You will find attending the various training courses in the foster carer calendar an invaluable form of support; learning and sharing experiences with foster carers and other professionals.   In addition to the full annual programme, you have access to online training and a foster care specific library of resources. 
There are various standard training modules that all carers must complete as part of the national standards.  These include:
  • induction
  • first aid
  • equality and diversity
  • health and safety
  • health and well-being
  • recording
  • safe handling of medicines
  • safeguarding
  • safe caring
Further qualifications
Northumberland foster carer courses are often validated and can be included on your CV for other work with children and young people.  The service links with different training partners and we encourage national qualifications like the diploma in child care, which is equivalent to NVQ level three.
As a full-time foster carer you get a fee each week, 52 weeks a year, regardless of whether you have a child staying with you.  When you are caring for a child, you will also receive a fostering allowance on top of your fee. 

A lot of agencies only pay a joint fee and allowance when you have a child living with you - so if you do not have a child living with you, then with other agencies you would not receive a fee.  With Northumberland, the fee is separated out and paid every week, so you have a regular income.
Foster carers can currently earn up to £183 each week.  Foster carer fees are not taxed and depending on your household circumstances, you could also claim additional benefits and discounts which would be applicable if you were not in work.

The fee level depends on the skills and resources you’re offering as a foster carer .  

Different pro rata allowance rates apply for short break and respite placements.

Our 24 / 7 emergency foster care scheme pays differently at £363 per week with time dependent allowances.  This scheme will suit those with significant work experience with young people.

Fostering allowances
All Northumberland carers receive a generous fostering allowance when they have a child placed with them which covers the needs of the child, e.g. clothing, food, activities and pocket money. 
  • Up to £219 per week per child
Double fostering allowances are also paid for holidays, birthdays and Christmas, or similar religious events for looked-after children.

Further financial support is available depending on the individual needs of the child. 
Tax, holiday and pay queries
Mainstream foster carers can choose to take up to four weeks' paid holiday.  However, our carers tend to take a fostered child on holiday with them if suitable.  

Northumberland foster carers work on a self-employed basis and are usually eligible for any benefits that they would have got if not working.  For specific information about the tax and benefits that apply to you and your household, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or tax office.

Foster carer group meetings take place regularly across Northumberland.  They are a great place for staying up to date on changes to policy and procedures, learning from other families and getting specialist advice from experts on fire, home safety and education.

Unlike most fostering agencies, we offer group meetings that are close to you in a variety of locations across the county.  You’ll be invited to a group near you when you’re approved as a foster carer.

In addition to the service support groups, our foster carers meet up on a more casual basis for coffee mornings and family get togethers .

The service organises family trips and get togethers across the year to help children and families get to know each other to places like Whitehouse Farm and Flamingoland.
The national foster carer charter sets out:
  • the foster care service roles and commitment
  • what foster carers can expect from the foster care service
  • what the foster care service expects from foster carers
Click here to read the charter

Information for children and young people about what to expect from foster care in Northumberland and the support you will receive from us.

Foster carers are people who want to help look after you while you’re unable to stay with your family. They will do all they can to help you feel safe and cared for, and help you stay in touch with your family and friends.

The foster care team within social services prepare, train and supervise our foster carers so they can look after you properly.  They and your social worker are part of the council’s children’s services team and will work with you and your family to give you the best care they can.  While most young people’s experiences are positive, it’s important to know your rights.

You have the right…
  • to feel safe and comfortable
  • not to be spoken to in a nasty or hurtful way
  • not to be made to feel bad about yourself
  • not to be hurt in any way
  • to be talked to and listened to about plans or decisions made about you
  • to be helped in talking about your wishes and feelings
  • to be offered the right sort of school and play activities
  • to be helped to keep in touch with all important people in your life, providing it’s safe.  The only exceptions may be if someone has to be with you when you meet with family (called supervised contact) or where we think that contact may be unsafe for you
  • to make a complaint if you feel you’re being treated unfairly
  • to advice from an independent advocate for advice and support. They will talk to people on your behalf if you want them to. 
Your foster carer and social worker are key people with whom you can talk.  You may also choose to speak to professional people within your school or with whom you involved. 

Your foster carer's Supervising Social Worker will visit your foster family home regularly.  They are another professional person with whom you can talk.  They are based within the foster care team, who you can contact too:

Foster Care Team
Family Placement Service, 3 Esther Court, Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington, NE63 8AP
Tel: 01670 62 62 62

Advocacy services
Click here to see information about advocacy services for looked after children and young people.  Advocacy is when someone helps you to have your say or speaks for you, if you are struggling to be heard.  Advocates support you to be involved in decisions that affect you.  

The Mind Of My Own app, which can be used on standard PCs as well as most smartphones and tablets is a key tool for you to use as part of your time in care.  The award-winning app helps you express your views more clearly, get more involved in meetings and make better decisions with your social care team.

What if I am not happy with my care?
Please try to talk with your foster carer first.  Questions and worries can usually be sorted out easily.  If this is not possible, talk to your social worker.  You may want to make a complaint about children’s services, education, the health service or other things.  Your foster carer can help you sort out how to go about this, or may be able to act for you.  Further help can be offered by our advocacy services

As you approach 16, a 16+ social worker is allocated to support your development as you move towards adult independence. Based on your needs, the social worker will create a ‘pathway plan’, which is designed to help you find further education, employment, training or housing if that’s what you’d like.

The 16+ team works closely with the VMC group who meet regularly. There is also the opportunity to become involved with other groups via participation officers, such as the children in care council. 

Please note: This team was previously known as the 16+ team.  

Information to download: Please click here for further information about adolescent services.

What if I don’t want to leave my foster carer?
Northumberland County Council's ‘Staying Put’ scheme is there so you can continue to live with your foster carers until you’re at least 21. This means you can continue in further education and training while being supported in a family setting.

Staying Put is an option for young people and carers if they want to continue living in the foster home from the age of 18 and 20. Please have a look out our Staying Put flyer here.
What happens when I go to live with my carer?
Going to live with strangers can be scary. All families are different, so you will feel strange at first. Foster carers understand this and will do their best to make you feel welcome and comfortable.

Talk to your carers. Tell them how you feel and what you do and don’t like. Ask them questions, e.g. do I get pocket money? Can I choose what to eat? Can I use the phone?

Foster carers will tell you the rules and routines in their house so you know what to expect. Don’t worry if people make mistakes. It will take a little time to get used to each other and work things out together.

Foster carers receive information about you and your family so they know something about you. They will welcome you bringing your favourite and familiar things with you.

We try and choose a foster family that is as close to your family as possible. We want you to have as much contact with your family and friends as you can. It would be good if you could carry on with the same clubs, youth clubs, etc.

How can I find out more about being looked after?
You can talk to people around you who know about social care, like your social worker or your foster carers social worker.  You can also use the Mind Of My Own app to help you think about things and connect with different people.

We have guides for children who are looked after by our foster carers.  One is for children aged under 10 and the other is for children and young people aged 10 and older.

Link to our new looked after children's guide to be added shortly
This document gives you information about where you are living, keeping in touch with important people, how you can have your say, meetings, your health and your rights.  This guide isn’t a replacement for talking to people like your carers or social workers but it might help with some questions that you have.

How can I find out about more services and information for young people in Northumberland?
Click to view the Northumberland County Council information page for young people.
This section provides information for families and carers about the specialist family-based short-break care service.

Short-break foster care is one of the Northumberland County Council's services for disabled children and their families.

Family-based care can provide overnight care from a specialised Northumberland foster carer. The carers are selected because of their personal and professional experience and understanding of disabled children.
Family-based care offers families planned and structured short breaks aimed at helping the child develop life and self-care skills, as well as building upon social interaction experience outside of the family setting.
The service is for children up to 18 years old with complex health care needs (i.e. technology dependent) and children with autism or learning disabilities. The services available to families are currently subject to social worker assessment via the Northumberland County Council disabled children’s team.
Young people will have the opportunity to socialise, while benefitting from one-to-one care in a family setting. Northumberland County Council has redeveloped its family-based service offering, enabling carers and young people to link into universal services, residential home group activities and school activity programmes.
  • a dedicated spare bedroom in your home
  • a warm and accepting approach to families, children and professionals
  • mobility access (if caring for children with mobility needs)
  • an awareness of child development and living with the challenges of disability
  • experience gained from living or working with disabled children
  • self-motivated to provide fun and creative activities for children
  • a team worker with the capacity to communicate with all professionals involved with the child in your care
  • commitment to a personalised training and development programme, including a willingness to carry out any additional training to enhance the service you are giving to children in your care (e.g. health, educational and social care from staff and family members)
Support and training opportunities:
  • a dedicated family placement social worker who provides supervision, support and advice
  • 24-hour telephone support service
  • regular carer support groups
  • essential equipment and resources
  • access to the full training schedule offered
  • NVQ equivalent in child care level three 
A family placement social worker will visit you to offer guidance on the type of care work open to you. You complete a pre-approval training course and then we work with you through your preparation and formal assessment. This includes police checks (DBS), medical and reference checks. The application is taken to an independent panel for official approval, then we can start to set up your placement links.
Contact Caroline for further information on how you can become a short-break foster carer:
Here you will find information for people who look after children that belong to relations or friends.

Family and friends carers, also referred to as kinship carers or guardians, are relatives, friends and other people with a prior relationship to somebody else's child, who are caring for them full-time.

Read our guide to family and friends care to find out about the different legal options, the types of support available, details of any financial support available (links to form referred to in the guide) and the kind of social work involvement that will be necessary.  Please note: This policy guide is currently being reviewed.
Here you will find useful documents and links for Northumberland County Council's foster care processes.

We hope that you have found answers to your initial questions on this site. 

Please call, email or text Caroline for any further questions or to start the process on:

01670 62 62 62
07779 983 165
In the meantime, here is our foster care information pack to download:

Foster care factsheets
Foster carer job description
Foster carer pay and finances
Children who foster

Northumberland's adoption and fostering teams work in partnership with many outstanding people and organisations who pledge their support to the services for local children and their families. Below are some of those who have helped support our goals.

The Duchess of Northumberland
The Duchess of Northumberland supports Northumberland Fostering and Adoption
Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland, made history by becoming the first woman to be given a centuries-old role as the county's official representative of the Crown.

The Duchess, appointed by the Queen as the new Lord-Lieutenant of Northumberland, fulfils a ceremonial post which dates back to the reign of King Henry VIII.

Her Grace is heavily involved with the voluntary sector, fostering and encouraging voluntary and welfare organisations.

The Duchess has supported foster families and supports the county's work to help improve the lives of some of the county's most vulnerable children and young people.

Glenn McCrory
Glenn McCrory supports Northumberland Fostering and Adoption
Glenn McCrory was the North East's first ever world boxing champion.

Now a commentator and presenter for Sky Sports TV, he set up the Glenn McCrory Foundation, aimed at raising the aspirations of young people from deprived areas in the North East.

As deputy lieutenant of Northumberland, Glenn has pledged his support to looked-after children and young people.

He has helped the fostering and adoption teams raise awareness of the need for more foster families and adoptive parents within the county.

Sharon Barbour
Sharon Barbour supports Northumberland Adoption and Fostering 
Sharon Barbour is a BBC TV Look North presenter and reporter.

Following her Look North foster care fortnight feature on the need for more foster carers for teenagers across the region, Sharon has pledged her support to looked-after children in Northumberland.

She said: "Foster carers and adoptive families make such a difference in children and young people's lives.

"I hope that we have helped to raise awareness and that more people come forward to offer such valuable roles for North East children and young people."
Useful links for fosters

Get quick answers to some frequently asked questions.

Get your free guide to fostering here

Do I need a spare room?

Yes. In Northumberland, a fostered child must have their own bedroom, whatever their age. A private space is important for both the fostered child and you as a foster family. The sleeping arrangements for any children who are already members of the household must not be changed in order to accommodate a fostered child. We have to respect your own children's space, and it is different to moving in to share to make room for another sibling. Fostered siblings are sometimes able to share bedrooms with each other.


What if I have my own children at home?

There should be a two to three-year age gap between the age of your own children and any fostered children. Fostered children are generally younger than your own children. If you have young children at home and are interested in fostering older children, then we would look at your work experience with older children and the needs of your family.


I rent my home, is that a problem?

Your property is taken into consideration in the approval process in terms of health and safety. So as long as you have a spare bedroom and can offer stability, security of tenure and a safe home, it does not matter if you rent or own your home.


What if I don’t live in Northumberland?

That’s fine, but you must live in the nearby surrounding areas. We try to keep children as close to their home area, as long as that is safe for them, so they can maintain links with their family, friends and school.


Do I need to have internet access?

Northumberland County Council expects foster carers to have internet access as a means of communicating with your fostering team and support network of other foster carers. You will have a professional email address and use of our secure website for foster carers. The foster carer website is where you will store your documents, plan out your calendar, hear about information from the service and access a library of resources.

Internet access is key in education for children and young people. Training courses exist for safe internet usage for young people. For those who are not confident with general computer use, our local libraries offer a range of free training, in addition to support from the team.


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 will need to undergo a medical as part of the assessment process to ensure you can offer stability and have the ability to care for a child. If you have a disability, our medical advisor will consider the factors and make recommendations on your ability to meet the demands of the role.


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.

How much will I get paid for being a foster carer?

This depends on what service you are offering our children and young people, and also your skills and experience. The basic payments information is on the support for foster carers page.


Will being a foster carer affect my benefits?

You should still be able to claim the same benefits when you become a foster carer. Fostering allowance payments received while a child is with you are not normally taken into consideration when calculating benefits, as allowances are to pay for the care of the child. Foster carers may also be able to claim working tax credits. We cannot offer advice on your whole family financial situation – the Citizens Advice Bureau and local benefits can help instead.


Will I be affected by the bedroom tax?

A foster carers’ first spare bedroom is exempt from the bedroom tax. Northumberland provides extra financial support to foster carers with two or more bedrooms via the discretionary housing fund, subject to a full income/expenditure assessment. This also applies to people going through the foster carer recruitment process.


I will be classed as self-employed - where can I find tax and self-employment advice?

Help and advice is available online with HMRC - foster carers' e-learning: Tax for Foster Carers. Alternatively, there are live and pre-recorded webinars: HM Revenue & Customs: self-employed webinars 

Once you join the Northumberland Foster Care Service, you get free membership and benefits to FosterTalk who have specific foster care tax advisors.
Why do I need to be assessed?
The purpose of the assessment is to check you are safe people to be looking after our children and young people BUT it also aims to guide you into deciding the right route into foster care for your skills, experience and family situation.

Why is the assessment that long?
On average the assessment takes about 16 weeks after your skills to foster course, during which a social worker will visit you about eight times.  The assessment takes this time to complete to enable the social worker to write a detailed report on your suitability.  Working through the assessment also helps prospective foster carers prepare for the role.

What questions will I be asked, for example, what information do you want on me and my extended family?
The assessment will cover a wide range of areas such as your home, approach to education, family attitudes, health, employment, religion and culture, social life and life experiences.  It also covers potentially sensitive areas of your life, where we can suggest further discussion and areas for further development through training.

Is there an exam included in the assessment process?
No there is not an exam.  Prospective foster carers will need to be active participants in the three-day skills to foster programme which is completed prior to assessment.  During assessment, prospective carers’ skills and qualities are assessed to show how they are suitable for the role and have an understanding of the needs of young people in care.  The assessment is also a chance for any areas for development to be identified.

What references will be taken up? 
Personal references, and where applicable work references, will be taken up to further highlight your skills and qualities for the role of fostering.  These are an important part of the assessment process.  Click here for more information about checks and references.

I am a foster carer with another agency and would like to look at transferring to Northumberland County Council?

If you have previously fostered or currently foster for another agency or council, we would like to hear from you. We are keen to recruit experienced foster carers. The process is quicker than a standard application. Please call Caroline on 01670 62 62 62 or complete this online enquiry form.

Will I need to have contact with the foster child’s birth parents?

Yes. Where appropriate for the fostered child you will be expected to work with birth parents and be non-judgemental in your approach. We provide training and support on contact with birth family members.


Can I take my foster child/children away on holiday?

This is generally encouraged, however, it would be included in the information and guidance you receive before a child comes to stay with you. The decision depends upon the child’s individual circumstances and lies with the child’s social worker but where possible, we would encourage you to take the child along.

Does your service have a privacy statement?
Yes, click to read a copy of the Family Placement Privacy Notice

How soon will a child be placed with me once I am approved as a foster carer?
It is likely a child will be placed with you straight after being approved, depending on how wide an age range you are able to care for.  Your worker will discuss any placements with you first, before they come to stay.

Do I have say on which children are placed with me?
Yes, all carers can say if they do not feel they are the appropriate people to look after a proposed child.  However, it is important for carers to consider there are children and young people from a range of backgrounds who need placements.  Your support worker will work with our placements officer to identify suitable matches.

The range of placements you are approved for and open to work with may change as you develop and build your confidence as a foster carer.  It can also change as your own circumstances change, such as your own children getting older, or your own family commitments changing.

What support will I get once I am a foster carer and what out of hours support is available?
The following link provides information on support you receive as a Northumberland foster carer: What if my own children don’t like the children who are placed?
It is important to be aware of how fostering may affect your own children.  While many children enjoy their parents fostering, it can be a challenge getting used to having other children in the house who perhaps have very different backgrounds and experiences to their own.  Please see the following link to the Children who Foster book, which can be used as a resource to prepare your own children for having foster children in their home.  And of course, if they have questions, they can always talk to us.

Is there a network where I can speak with other foster carers?
Yes, there is a wide network of other foster families.  All new foster carers are linked to a current foster carer – our buddy mentor scheme – so you can gain knowledge and support from a more experienced carer in your area.  You also attend a regular fostering support group in your local area.  There is also a secure website for our foster carers, with a Northumberland email account and access to a library of useful information, including a discussion forum to share tips and swap equipment.
Please get in touch to ask questions, start your application or to book onto a future recruitment event

If you are thinking about what paid foster care work you can do, please get in touch so we can answer your questions, get your application started or book to meet you at a future recruitment event or an appointment at the main office: