About Fostering and Foster Carers

Find out about the types of foster care role you could offer, our foster families and how you can become a foster carer

Learn why you should foster with us.

Are you thinking about fostering?

The Northumberland foster care team look after children who can't live with their parents for short or long periods of time.  To do this we need people, individuals and families, like you, to join our team to help care for these children. 

We work with you to train and prepare you for the role and then provide ongoing support when you join the Northumberland Foster Family.  

It's amazing what our foster carers and the children they care for get our of fostering......but don't take our word for it:

Foster carer Louise says, "You get a real buzz from helping children when they need you the most."

Care experienced young person, Ebony says, "My carer Alan has helped me feel part of the family, by giving me space and trust to make my own choices.  He gives me boundaries, and I just feel really settled and safe here so I can get on with my life and school."

For more real life stories from foster carers and care experienced young people - click to view our 'Fostering stories' section


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

There are very few things that would stop you from becoming a foster carer.  If you are in a stable position in life and can offer a child or children a safe, secure and nurturing home, then you could foster. We can help you explore what types of foster care you could offer now or in the future. We will also explore what support and training would help you.

You can foster:

  • if you are married, single, LGBTQ+ or straight
  • if you own or rent your home
  • If you have 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. 

Contact our friendly regional enquiry hub Foster With North East on:

Phone: 0800 917 7771
Enquiry form: Enquire now - Foster with North East
Website: www.fosterwithnortheast.org.uk

If you'd like to come to a local event - please check out our events and news page, there are even more regional events listed on our Foster With North East site.

Why should you foster? What benefits do you get out of being a foster carer for children with Northumberland?

Our foster carers have chosen to foster children for many different reasons - but mainly to help a child or children in need and to give something back to their local community.  Here are some of reasons our foster carers have said why fostering was for them, and it could be for you too:
  • Ability to use existing experience as a parent 

  • Use professional skills to help children and families

  • We wanted to fill a space in our family life that was missing (e.g.  wanting a bigger family, or wanting to have children back in the home when their own children were getting older) 

  • Altruistic needs (feeling you could help by sharing your energy and resources) 

  • Seeking a child with high dependency needs that we could help (e.g. through experience of disability) 

  • Providing something the community will value 

  • Offering strengths/skills from experience of disability
  • ​The rewards from helping a child or children when they need it most
  • Supporting children living in Northumberland to thrive
  • For the children in your care - they become part of your family for however long they need you, and all that means in terms of stability, support, and care

Practical support and benefits of working with Northumberland:

  • Northumberland full time foster carers get a guaranteed weekly fee - whether you have a child living with you or not
  • Part time foster cares are paid pro-rata
  • Generous basic allowances per child - plus additional payments based on the need of the child
  • Mileage paid in addition to allowances
  • A full training and development programme to enable carers to support children in their care
  • A great support network of foster carers, including community-based support groups
  • A buddy mentor scheme - new carers are matched with an experienced foster carer, to help 'show them the ropes'
  • Support from the other professionals around the children - for education, wellbeing, physical health, moving into independence, Out of Hours Support etc.
  • A professional secure cloud-based web portal and email to manage all foster care related communications and useful family resources
  • A private Facebook group to share and chat with Northumberland Foster Carers
  • Foster talk membership which provides additional support resources and discounts for carers
  • Discounted access to Northumberland leisure centres to support children in care
  • A dedicated team of Placement Support Workers who provide hands-on additional help as needed to children and foster families
  • A programme of residential trips and activities to support children's wellbeing, meet other children and to support foster families
Our family of foster carers play a vital role in the lives of local children and young people.  They come from all walks of life, with different life experiences and work backgrounds.

Here are some of our wonderful foster family real life stories which aim to show how you too could make a difference to the lives of children and young people by working as a foster carer either full or part time.

Watch all of our videos in our playlist by clicking here.

Louise's Northumberland Fostering Memories - #whywecare

Louise shares with us the good, the bad and the ugly side of foster care stating "There is much more good"

What is the process to become a foster carer?

Foster carer Vicky shares her experience of the application, training and preparation process you undergo to become a foster carer.  She talks further about the training courses and programme you have access to when you start working with Northumberland.

Growing up in foster care - Denise and her foster carer Lisa

Growing up in foster care


Long-term foster care


Lots of different elements make a good foster carer. Here is what some of our young people had to say:   'We made this film because we wanted to highlight the challenges children and young people can face in everyday life when placed into care, which is no fault of their own. This film is the experiences of nine people rolled into one.
'We chose the medium of film because we personally don’t usually pick up leaflets when out and about, but if something of interest is on social media we are more inclined to click on it and share it with our friends. 

'This film is for everyone, for those in care themselves and carers, teachers, social workers and for classmates of anyone who is in care. 

'We hope people discuss the positive impact a foster placement can have on the life of a child/young person and how when given the chance, any child can achieve their positive potential. 
Here our foster carers Debbie, Diane, Helen, Alan and Kate share their fondest fostering memories:

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.

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.

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 (PLEASE NOTE: 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 or 07779 983 165:
  • 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.

Logos of Mockingbird family model and The Fostering Network.

What is the Mockingbird programme?

The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme is an innovative way of delivering foster care using the Mockingbird Family Model. This is an extended family model that has the potential to improve placement stability, security, safety and permanence for children. It improves peer support for foster carers, includes regular joint planning and training, and social activities.

The programme improves the stability of fostering placements and strengthens the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.

Watch The Fostering Network's animation Mockingbird: a really big family to hear from young people about their experience of being part of a constellation. This film was co-produced in 2021 with young people who are part of Mockingbird in the UK. 

About The Fostering Network

The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. They're the essential network for fostering; bringing together everyone who's involved in the lives of fostered children. They support foster carers to transform children’s lives and we work with fostering services and the wider sector to develop and share best practice.

They work to make sure all fostered children and young people experience stable family life and are passionate about the difference foster care makes. They champion fostering and seek to create vital change so that foster care is the very best it can be.

How families are supported

The hub home provides support to the other families, through:

  • regular social activities (usually at least once a month)
  • planned and emergency sleepovers (the hub home must have at least two beds specifically for the use of children and young people in their group)
  • short breaks 
  • mentoring and support
  • help to access support that is available in the wider community
  • joint planning and training

The hub home also provides a neutral space for:

  • shared decision-making meetings
  • social worker visits
  • sibling and birth family visits

How can I get involved?

We've successfully achieved funding from the Department for Education (DfE) and are working with The Fostering Network to deliver the Mockingbird Family Model in and around Northumberland.

We’re looking for experienced carers, or professionals from a caring background, to be a part of this innovative method of delivering foster care.

Details of the roles available are below:

Hub home carers:

  • have a crucial role in the constellation
  • are the key communicator between the hub home, satellite carer homes and the service
  • have a close working relationship with the liaison social worker
  • offer planned, unplanned, emergency, outreach and day care for the children in the constellation
  • co-ordinate social activities and support meetings
  • support the delivery of training opportunities to constellation carers
  • work in partnership with a child’s care plan.

Satellite carers:

  • work with the hub home carers
  • have a key role in communication and relationships with the liaison social worker
  • keep daily logs and records
  • assist with planned, unplanned or emergency care for a child in your care
  • participate in regular constellation activities, support groups and training opportunities
  • work in partnership with children’s social workers
As this service develops we will be adding further information in our Mockingbird hub area - click here to visit the hub area
Northumberland County Council mainly support whole families rather than young children seeking asylum - this is purely based on our geographical location.
Increasingly, we look to support children and young people who may have come from another country and are looking to seek asylum without a family. They will likely be in their mid to late teens, but this is not exclusive. They will not always speak English and may have experienced trauma or persecution.
Fostering an asylum-seeking child or young person requires cultural sensitivity and an understanding that they will likely face barriers other children in care do not face. They may not speak English, will often have no identification, and will require access to education which we will help you with. It is likely that we will not know a huge amount about their backgrounds, how they came to this country or even their name and date of birth.
Like all foster care - patience, compassion, and empathy are essential when considering accommodating asylum-seeking young people. 
We offer training, support, and care to enable you to support successful outcomes for these children and young people. Our partner has lots of information about fostering young people from another country

Learn more about allowances and finance.

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 you 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.

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

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.
We encourage you to make an enquiry as soon as you can.  Our regional enquiry team 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 home 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

All the way through your application, the aim is for you to get to know us and us to get to know you, your strengths, where you may need training support, and ultimately what type of foster care is best for you to start your fostering role. 

Our regional hub have some great advice about getting to know the social workers in your service and guidance for the application process: Top tips for building a relationship with your social worker - Foster with North East

Prospective foster carers attend a 2 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 step in the application process. 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
  • help you to think about the types of fostering you would like to offer

Our enquiry hub - Foster With North East -  has several courses scheduled across the year.  If you need to plan ahead for work, ask about dates on your enquiry call, so you look to book time off from work etc..


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
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.

Please contact our regional enquiry team stating you are looking to transfer to Northumberland.

Phone: 0800 917 7771 Email: contact@fosterwithnortheast.org.uk
Get quick answers to some frequently asked questions.

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 to support children with their education.  It is also critical for your foster care role as a means of communicating with your fostering team, other teams around the children and your support network of other foster carers.

You will have a professional email address and use of a secure website for foster carers. The foster carer website is where you will store your documents, diary activities and meetings, hear about information from the service, communicate with all foster carers and other professionals and access a library of resources.

A number of training courses are available to complete online, including training for safe internet usage supporting children and 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 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.

Click here to watch our video on having a disability and fostering.

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.

Click here to watch our video on having an on-going health condition and fostering.

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.

LGBT+ Fostering Week Logo

New Family Social logo

 New Family Social is the UK's leading charity ran by and for LGBT+ adopters and foster carers.  It aims to tackle the myths that may prevent you from exploring adoption or foster care with the campaign theme 'why not you?' 

We've created 5 myth busting videos about fostering, featuring Caroline from Children's Services, answering our most frequently asked questions. You can watch these videos by clicking here.

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

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.
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.

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 our regional enquiry hub on 0800 917 7771.