Thinking about becoming a foster carer is a big deal and you probably have a lot of questions. Here are a few of the ones we get asked the most. If you can’t find an answer to your question here, please get in touch to speak to one of our team.
1. Who can become a foster carer?
Anyone can apply to become a foster carer with us. We work with foster carers who are single, married, co-habiting, divorced, gay, lesbian and heterosexual. We also recruit foster carers from different religious and cultural backgrounds. There are a few requirements we ask for before you can become a foster carer and you can learn more about those on our who can foster page.
2. Can I foster if I have a criminal conviction?
A criminal conviction won’t necessarily stop you from fostering. It depends on your conviction and when it happened. It’s standard for us to check criminal records at an early stage though, so you should let us know as soon as you can. Any information shared with us remains strictly confidential at all times.
3. What checks are carried out on me and my household?
We carry out a few checks to protect the foster children we work with. You will need to have a police check and get a free Working with Children Check, which includes a criminal record check for offences involving children. You will also need to complete a health questionnaire and GP medical exam, provide three personal references, and pass a standard Housing Safety check. You can find out more about what’s involved on our steps to foster page.
4. If I’m the primary foster carer, do other members of the household need to be checked?
We check all adults in your home, including children over 16 years old. If you’re living with a partner, you will both have to be checked and apply to become foster carers even if you’ll be the main foster carer. This is because everyone living in your home will have some involvement with your foster child.
5. Could a child I foster share a bedroom with one of my own children?
We will generally only place a child in a home where he or she will have their own bedroom. If they’re part of a young sibling group, they may be able to share with their own brothers or sisters.
6. Can I still go out to work and be a foster carer?
We think that the high-quality care all our foster children and young people need is only possible by having at least one full-time foster carer. We expect a foster carer to be as available to their foster children as they would be to their own children. You’ll also need to be able to make time for foster support groups and training.
7. Can I choose how long I want children and young people to stay with me?
We’ll talk to you about the different types of foster care placements and help you choose which ones might suit you best. It isn’t always possible to know how long a child will need to stay with you, though.
8. Can I choose which age group or sex I would prefer to foster?
Yes, you can. But you’re far more likely to have continuous placements if you are willing to foster children of all ages.
9. How much will I know about the child or young person before they’re placed with me?
We’ll discuss every potential placement with you. It’s always up to you whether to take a young person or not. We’ll give you as much information about them as we can to help you make an informed decision. Sometimes we have very little information, especially in an emergency. But we always try to find out as much information as we can, as quickly as we can.
10. Will I be taxed on the fostering allowances I receive?
Foster care allowances don’t count as income, so aren’t taxed. It won’t affect applications for Commonwealth benefits or loan applications, either. You can find out more about specific allowances on our fostering allowances page.