All kinds of people foster. People often think that they can't foster because they're single, work full-time or are too old, but none of these things matter.

People often think that they can't foster because they're single, work full-time or are too old, but none of these things matter. You need to be over 21 and have a spare room, but most importantly, you need to have the right skills and qualities to provide the best possible care for vulnerable local children.

You can foster...

  • If you're married, single, gay or straight;
  • If you own your home or rent;
  • If you work full-time, part-time, are self employed, unemployed or retired;
  • If you're aged over 21 and are fit enough to care for a child or teenager;
  • Whether you're disabled or not - all applicants have a medical to assess their fitness to care for a child; and
  • Whatever your ethnicity, religion or culture.

Your skills

What we're really interested in are the skills and qualities you could bring to fostering. You will need to be:

  • Patient, committed and resilient;
  • A good listener and able to understand how children behave when they've been emotionally or physically hurt;
  • Available to look after a child before and after school, during holidays or when the child is sick;
  • Active and have a healthy lifestyle; and
  • Experienced in care, whether it's bringing up your own children, or working with children or vulnerable adults.

Your family

It's vital that you have the support of your family, as they will play an important part in making any placement. If you have children, they will need to be asked if they want to be involved in fostering, as it affects them as well. It's a decision that affects everybody, but everybody can benefit, too.

Other information

While having a criminal record will not necessarily prevent you from fostering, we will need to know whether you or any member of your household has a police record or is known to social services. This is so we can make sure that a child will be safe in your care. However, you will not be approved to foster if you or any member of your household has a criminal record of offences against children.

If you are a smoker, we wouldn't place a child under five years of age with you.

As a foster carer you will need to:

  • Make sure the child has a healthy lifestyle, attends school and receives any educational or medical support they need;
  • Establish a routine and set boundaries for behaviour;
  • Enable the child to maintain contact with their family;
  • Help the child build healthy relationships with others;
  • Speak up on the child's behalf to make sure they receive the care and support they are entitled to;
  • Work as part of a team with other care professionals; and
  • Keep written records about the child.

You can  read more in our guide to fostering. (pdf / 591 KB)