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Who Can Foster?

We are looking for foster carers from a wide range of backgrounds as foster children are all individuals and need different types of families. Foster carers come from a diverse range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds which reflect the children and young people who are in care.

We would like to talk to everyone who feels they could meet the needs of Portsmouth children.  

Take a look at the questions we are frequently asked about fostering

Do I need a spare room?

Yes foster children and young people need their own bedroom although brothers and sisters may be able to share a bedroom.

Do I need previous child care experience? 

Yes we are looking for foster carers who have experience of caring for or working with children, either as a parent or in a voluntary or professional capacity. If you do not have any experience why not consider contacting a local school, or youth club like Scouts or Guides to gain experience though volunteering.

Am I too old or too young to foster?

You must be over 18 to foster. There is no upper age limit but you do need to be generally fit and healthy. Each application is considered individually.

Can I foster if I work full time?

Yes if the child is school age and you have the flexibility within your family or work arrangements to care for a child before and after school and during school holidays. The level of care needed will depend on the age and needs of the child or young person in your care. A child in foster care will also often have appointments and meetings during the week which foster carers need to attend. If you do work full time and don’t think you could care for a child on a full time basis there are other types of fostering that might be right for you such as respite care or providing Supportive Lodgings to young people over 16.

Can I foster if I am renting my home?

Yes if you have a spare room and the written permission of your landlord.

Can I foster if I have an ongoing health condition or disability?

Yes if you are generally fit and healthy and your condition is well managed and will not affect your ability to care for a child. You will be asked to have a medical examination as part of the fostering assessment and we will take into account the opinion of your GP and the Department's medical adviser if you are fit and healthy enough to foster.

Can I foster if I smoke?

If you smoke you will not be allowed to foster children aged under five or any child with health conditions or disabilities. You will be expected to smoke outside and away from children to ensure they are not impacted by the harmful effects of passive smoking. This does not apply if you smoke e-cigarettes or vapour cigarettes although the expectation will be that these are also smoked outside and away from children.

Can I foster if I or someone in my household has a criminal conviction or caution?

If you or a member of your household has had a criminal record it will not necessarily stop you from fostering. It depends on what the conviction was for and when the offence was committed, so please discuss your individual circumstances with us. We undertake a check with the Police (known as a Disclosure and Barring Service check) with all our applicants and members of the household over 18 and all criminal records and cautions will be disclosed.

Can I foster if I have pets?

Yes, many of our foster carers have pets and they are an important part of the fostering family enjoyed by the foster children. We consider any pets you have as part of the assessment process. We may ask for an assessment by a dog behaviorist if there are any particular concerns raised regarding any dogs in your home.

Do I need to be able to drive?

No, but as a foster carer you will be expected to attend lots of meetings, appointments and take children to and from school and contact with their family. Therefore, you will need to consider how you would meet the travel requirements of the task.

Can I foster if I have debts?

We will look at your financial situation during the assessment process as we have to be certain that your house is a stable environment and that you can meet any rent or mortgage payments.

What effect will fostering have on my own children?

Lots of foster carers have their own children and many looked after children benefit from being in a family environment with other children. Fostering very much involves your whole family and all members of your household will be considered during the assessment. We will need to take into account the wishes and feelings of your own children and ensure it is right for them too. We recognise that birth children can find it difficult to share their homes and families sometimes with foster children and we will offer as much support as possible in this area.

Will the child continue to go to their own school or change to a school near me?

Wherever possible we try and keep things familiar for our foster children, including going to their regular school with their friends. Children placed long-term may transfer to a school within your community. The child’s individual circumstances will be taken into account and this will be discussed with you as their foster carer and before the child is placed with you.

What happens if the child does not get along with my family?

We will always look to match a child to you and your family and this will be discussed with you before you agree to care for a child. If, however you do experience problems we will provide the necessary support to find a solution, as it is important that children do not have too many moves as this can be damaging for them.

Can a foster child come on holiday with us?

Including your foster child on your family holiday is usually encouraged but in some circumstances it may not be possible. An annual holiday allowance is payable in respect of each child/young person in placement. This is a contribution towards the additional costs involved. If it’s not possible for a young person to join you, a respite placement could be provided.

Will I have to pay tax?

As a foster carer you will receive a fostering allowance to meet the cost of caring for the child, most carers also receive a level 1 skill fee payment and a level 2 or 3 skill fee payment if they have been assessed as having a certain level of skills and experience. The government has given generous tax allowances for fostering which means that most foster carers do not pay tax on their fostering allowances and fees. However foster carers are classed as self-employed and as such must register with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Custom (HMRC). Support and guidance is available to do this on the HMRC website (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs).