Fostering FAQs

Choosing to foster is a big decision, and there are many different factors that should be considered. We answer the common fostering FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) we hear from prospective foster carers, so you can be best informed during your decision-making.

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Get in touch with your local foster care team.

Your foster training and dedicated support team will help you to cope with a range of challenging behaviours. We will also try to “match” a child with you and your family as closely as possible to ensure a stable and secure home environment.

Occasionally placements do break down despite everyone’s best efforts, although this is rare. In this instance you would be expected to work with the team to make the transition period as painless as possible for the child as he/she moves on.

You may be eligible for a retainer fee if you do not have a placement. This will be dependent on how may weeks you have fostered prior to you not having a placement. Most of our foster carers are consistently busy, especially if they are able to accept children and young people with a range of needs. We help you to match the type of referrals we receive by providing specialist training and offering additional support where needed for the more challenging placements.

The foster allowance foster carers receive varies depending on the type of placement, age of the child and the child’s individual needs. Whatever the circumstances, the Swiis payments to our carers are amongst the most rewarding in the industry.

The weekly foster care allowance fee covers all day-to-day expenses associated with caring for a child or young person.
The maintenance element covers items such as:

  • Food Clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Leisure activities, including holidays
  • Pocket money / savings
  • Christmas, birthdays or special events
  • Transport (subject to terms)

There are a number of checks carried out on potential foster carers during the assessment process.

  • Disclosure and Barring Service CheckLocal Authority checks
  • NSPCC checks
  • Ex-partners (except in exceptional circumstances)Children, including those from previous relationships
  • Reference from current employer/fostering organisation/voluntary work
  • School/Health visitor reports for your own children (if appropriate)
  • Medical reports
  • At least 2 personal references
  • SSAFA check (Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Families Association) if you have served in the armed forces
  • References from all previous employment involving children and vulnerable adults
  • General risk assessment of your home
  • Recommendations for improving safety
  • Overseas checks (if appropriate)

Yes there is a lower age limit to fostering. Foster Carers must be over 21 years old and have some life experience. There is no upper age limit as long as you are fit and healthy and have the time, energy and enthusiasm for children and their interests.

Fostering will impact your children in various ways. It’s really important you talk to your children about the impact fostering may have on them. We also provide access to experienced social workers to help understand how fostering might affect your children. When undertaking the assessment to be a carer all birth children are included in the assessment and they will meet the social worker undertaking the assessment both within a family setting and also 1-1 to help your family members understand fostering and how this can impact on your family.

The time it takes to become a foster carer is up to you. Swiis can take the foster carer assessment process time as quickly or as slowly as you feel comfortable with, we make sure it is at a pace that suits you. Swiis aim to complete the assessment of foster carers within four months and achieve this time for over 80% of the carers applying to become a foster carer.  We run regular training courses throughout the year to ensure that whilst your assessment is being undertaken that you attend the necessary training required prior to the completion of your assessment.

All carer applicants are asked to further support this process by being available for training and providing all necessary information to ensure that where possible we keep within this timeframe.

Whilst some foster children will enjoy having pets in the home, others may be frightened or not feel comfortable with this. We have a policy regarding pets and will make recommendations dependent on how many animals you have and how they are housed. Any animals in the home will be considered during a health and safety check and risk assessments to ensure that they don’t pose a risk to your foster child.

While you do not need a driving licence to foster, the reality is that it is extremely difficult if you don’t have access to a car. There are meetings to attend and children often need to be transported to school, activities and contact meetings. Unless you can demonstrate that you could meet the transport needs of a placement in some other way, not being able to drive could pose a considerable disadvantage to your application.

Foster carers can often receive tax credits. Fostering counts as self-employment, so you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit (and also Child Tax Credit if you have children of your own). You need to get advice about tax credits, which takes into consideration your own individual circumstances. Eligibility and assessment for Tax Credits can be made by accessing the HMRC dedicated Foster Carers e-Learning package on: www.hmrc.gov.uk

All foster carers must register as self-employed, so must register to pay National Insurance contributions. You can get information on this by visiting the HMRC website: www.hmrc.gov.uk

Yes, single people can apply to foster but we would need to be sure that you have a good support network.

Same-sex couples can certainly apply to foster. We don’t make decisions based on sexual orientation.

Yes, you can foster and still work. As a foster carer either as a couple or a single carer, someone must be available for the child or young person at all times. We therefore accept that the main carer can work as long as they have total flexibility with the hours they work and can be available as and when needed.

Foster children cannot share a bedroom (unless they are a young sibling group), they must have their own bedroom. Having their own room promotes security, privacy and a sense of having something that is ‘just their’s’.