Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing family life for children who cannot live with their own parents. It is often used to provide temporary care while parents get help sorting out problems, take a break, or to help children or young people through a difficult period in their lives. Sometimes, children will return home once the problems that caused them to come into foster care have been resolved and that it is clear that their parents are able to look after them safely. Others may stay in long-term foster care, some may be adopted, and others will move on to live independently when they are old enough to do so.


What do Foster Carers do?

The foster carer's role is to provide high quality care for the child. The legal responsibility for all children in foster care rests with the local authority and the foster carers will work in partnership with the local authority to provide this. The foster carers may also work with other professionals such as therapists, teachers or doctors to help the child to deal with emotional traumas or physical or learning disabilities.


What's the difference between adoption and fostering?

With adoption, legal ties to the birth parents are removed and all parental rights and responsibilities pass to the adoptive parents. The child becomes a full member of the family and has the same rights as any birth child would enjoy. With fostering, parental responsibility usually stays with the birth parents, unless a court order is made so it's shared with the local authority. In many cases, children are fostered only for a short time, before they return to their family or are adopted. Sometimes children remain with foster parents for longer or even for their entire childhood if adoption is not considered the most appropriate way forward. There are many types of fostering, which may suit your individual experience, skills and personal circumstances. These include emergency, short term, long term, short break and kinship fostering. Click here for more details.


What's the difference between local authority and independent adoption / fostering agencies?

All children who are waiting to be adopted or fostered are in the care of their local authority. You can apply through the local authority, a voluntary, or independent agency. Ideal Fostering is an independent fostering agency. Both types of agency will train and assess you. If you're approved, a local authority will look to match you with a child in their care. A voluntary agency will also work with your local authority to find a suitable match, but may also contact other authorities. In fostering, independent fostering services are contracted by the local authority to provide suitable carers.


Could I become a foster carer?

There is no typical foster carer, our carers come from all different backgrounds. Carers may be single, divorced, working or not working, although for some types of fostering it may not be practical for the main carer to be working full-time. All foster carers share an understanding of children's needs and have commitment and energy. All carers need the skills and abilities to look after children who have had difficult life experiences. We support the view that children need to be looked after by adults who are familiar with their culture, language and religion.


Who are the children?

They vary in age from babies to teenagers. We need of foster carers for all types of children, younger and older children, children with disabilities and family groups of brothers and sisters. Some children will be able to return to their own families, others need to live with long-term foster carers, or an adoptive family, or until they are old enough and can live independently. For many children it will be important for them to maintain some contact with their own families. Many of the children have had damaging life experiences and as a result their behaviour can sometimes be challenging. Many of the children have had damaging life experiences and as a result their behaviour can sometimes be challenging.


Do I need any special qualifications to be a foster carer?

No, it is your personal qualities which are of more important to us and we will support and prepare you for all stages in the fostering process. Similarly, if you have worked with children or do have qualifications in childcare your personal qualities will be just as useful in your application. Fostering requires many skills which we will enable you to have formally recognised by way of qualifications such as NVQs.


How do children feel when they are fostered?

Just as there is no stereotypical formula for a foster carer welcoming a child into their family, foster children will all feel individually about their foster families. As a foster carer you will get training on how to empathise with your foster child and encourage them to feel safe within your family.


What type of things might prevent me from becoming a foster carer?

All people enquiring about becoming foster carers, and those who will have close links with the child will undergo police and criminal record checks. If you have committed an offence against children you will not be able to foster. The outcome of these checks is necessary for any application to progress to the next stage.


I'm not married anymore, can I still foster?

Yes, you can be a foster carer whether single, living with a partner, married or divorced.


Do foster children maintain contact with their birth families?

Wherever possible, foster children are encouraged to maintain and develop birth family contact and friendships. However there are appropriate and clear guidelines surrounding contact arrangements, and the fostering service is on-hand to provide support and advice to help carers deal with this situation


I don't own my own home - could I still foster?

Yes, you just need to be able to provide a child with their own bedroom and a stable, safe and comfortable environment.


If I fostered a child, would they stay at the same school?

In ideal circumstances children who need foster care would stay in their local area. When this is not possible, transport arrangements will be made for the child to continue attending their regular school. This arrangement might change once the stability and length of a foster care placement has been established.


In my application to be a foster carer there has been some very personal information collected.
Would you share this information with other Agencies?

Because being a foster carer involves caring for a child, all potential foster carers going through application process do have to be asked about their background and lifestyle. All fostering agencies have to record this information and will share and ask for information from appropriate agencies like the health service or the criminal records bureau. However, your consent is needed for these checks to uphold the Data Protection Act. Having said this, all information about you will be treated as confidential within the constraints of inter-agency requirements.


What happens when a child is placed?

Before a child is placed with you, you should receive a report on the child, which informs you about their background and highlights any of the child's needs which will need to be respected and upheld. You should also have been prepared for starting foster care placements as part of your assessment process.


What will happen if a placement breaks down?

All Fostering Agency Providers make every effort to prevent placements breaking down. Professional support is available to provide families with extra support to help them work together to maintain placements as well as placing children with families they can be happy in. However, should a placement break down the child will be moved to another placement and given extra support as will the foster family.


What support is offered for children who offend?

At Ideal Fostering, we offer a variety of support to foster carers. Please refer to the HYPERLINK "" support for foster carers page or HYPERLINK "" contact us for further details.


What about Holidays?

Ideal Fostering will pay an allowance for annual holidays, birthdays and religious festivals and any educational holidays. Your link worker will provide you with more details about this. Ideal Fostering also provides its foster carers with two weeks paid respite care per annum. Again, please discuss this with your link worker for further information.


Will I get Child Benefit for the foster child(ren)?

Foster children do not receive Child Benefit.


What about Tax Credits?

Foster Parents do not receive tax credits for the child(ren) they foster.


Parent and Child schemes

In parent and baby schemes, only the parent is in foster care, but the local authority pays an amount which is intended to cover accommodation and care for both parent and baby. We treat both parent and baby as being in foster care and you can claim a weekly amount for both parent and baby when calculating your qualifying amount.


Additional expenses incurred in caring for disabled/special needs children

If you are a specialist carer you may incur additional expenditure on the children in your care, different from normal maintenance costs. For example, you may need to buy special equipment for a disabled child. You can add expenditure of this kind to the qualifying amount.


How long does it take to become a foster carer?

Ideal Fostering aim to complete the assessment of foster carers between four and six months. This will be dependent on your availability and how many children you have. You will be allocated an assessing social worker that will contact you and begin to start undertaking your statutory checks I.E DBS, Health etc.


Can I 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.


Is there an age limit?

Yes, 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, however this will be assessed on an individual basis.


Can single men and women apply?

Yes, but we would need to be sure that you have a good support network.


Can same-sex couples apply?

Yes. We don’t make decisions based on sexual orientation.


What types of checks are carried out on me and my home?

Disclosure and Barring Service Check

Local Authority 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

References from all previous employment involving children and vulnerable adults

General risk assessment of your home

Recommendations for improving safety

Overseas checks (if appropriate)


What happens if we can't support a child?

Your 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. We would also offer you appropriate support that may help maintain the placement.


Does it matter if I have pets?

Whilst some 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.


What happens when I don't have 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.


Can a child I foster share a bedroom with one of my own children?

No we require foster children to have their own bedrooms (unless they are a young sibling group).


What fee/allowance will I receive and on what basis is it decided?

Whilst the exact amount of fostering payments offered to foster carers varies depending on the type of placement, age of the child and the child’s individual needs, whatever the circumstances, Ideal Fostering are amongst the most rewarding.


Do foster carers pay National Insurance?

All foster carers must register as self-employed, so must register to pay National Insurance contributions. All of our approved foster carers are members of Foster Talk who will talk through any legal or tax issues you may have.


Whether you are a prospective foster carer looking to join a supportive agency or a Local Authority looking to place a child/young person or a young person seeking more about Ideal Fostering or a professional looking for more information from Ideal Fostering or a person with experience in Social Work, Fostering, and other related child focused jobs seeking employment ... please feel free to contact Ideal Fostering on our telephone number 0121 356 7570, our contact form or by emailing us at

Ideal Fostering
Bridge House | 509 Aldridge Road | Great Barr
Birmingham B44 8NA
Tel: (0121) 356 7570 | Fax: (0121) 345 0770