In order to foster you need a spare bedroom. But what happens when your house isn’t big enough and you don’t have the space to welcome a foster child? Can foster parents get help with housing?
Frustratingly, the answer is: it can depend. But in most cases, no, it likely won’t be possible for you to get a bigger house to become a foster parent.
There can be rare exceptions, but it is unlikely that you’ll be helped to move into a bigger property before you’re approved as a foster carer. This can be a bit of a catch 22. We take you through the rules and exceptions relating to housing below.
Moving house before being approved as a carer
If you rent or own your own property, you’ll be able to move as and when you like if you feel a bigger home would suit your needs best. When you start your fostering journey, you will need to be living in the property you hope to foster within- this is the same with any local authority or fostering agency.
When you have an initial visit, a social worker needs to visit your home in order to deem it suitable to foster from. If you are in the process of moving, you will be advised to settle into your new home and start your application to foster once everyone living there is properly situated.
Independent Fostering Agencies are unable to help prospective foster carers moving to a bigger property as IFAs are not home providers. They can, however, provide proof that you are either going through assessment with them or soon to be approved (confirmation that you have a set panel date). However, Local Authorities have the power to offer bigger properties in rare cases.
Local authority housing and fostering
Approved foster carers may be entitled to priority housing if you look after children or are hoping to adopt.
If you’re renting a council house, moving will be a lot trickier to navigate compared to private renters. Some Local Authorities have commented that they look into different potential foster families via their ‘individual merit’ as to whether they’d qualify for help with a bigger property.
It’s not impossible, but the local authority may be able to help you out in exceptional circumstances. If you are looking to get support moving into a bigger property, you will need to speak to your LA about your options, and you will need to be living in a council house already.
Local Authorities state that they ‘expect social homes to go to people who genuinely need them, such as hard working families and those who are looking to adopt or foster a child in need of a stable family. Not to those who do not, such as people who already own a home that is suitable for them to use.’
The Government also has a responsibility to support families in the Armed Forces through the Military Covenant. Families living in AF accommodation are placed in housing owned by the local authority. This means that military families may be viable to be helped moving into a bigger house if they wish to foster or adopt.
Prospective adopters and foster carers
Council housing providers can consider applications from foster carers or families looking to adopt who need an extra bedroom to house a child in need. They are very mindful that there is a risk in offering this as some families may not be approved to become foster parents or adoptions may not be processed.
Providers will likely begin an application for a bigger property once you are towards the end of your fostering assessment to reduce risk of providing homes to families that don’t require the space. They look to ‘strike a balance’ by allocating a certain number of available houses for families that foster and adopt.
Local councils don’t want overcrowded or under-occupied houses, so they take this in mind when working with prospective foster carers. Foster children are not taken into consideration when determining a household’s size when looking at ‘the purposes of the under-occupation measure in the Welfare Reform Act’. Councils will ‘weigh up’ the risk of this happening when looking at properties.
One way this could be monitored and achieved by local councils is creating a system of a set amount of properties each year put aside for the use of families who need to move to larger homes in order to foster or adopt a child.
You can find out about local authority housing guidance here, what you’re entitled to and what local councils are advised by the government. There is additional information about allocation of accommodation specifically for England.
Your home doesn’t need to be a mansion to foster. If you have a spare bedroom and the willingness to provide a safe and stable environment for a child in need, please get in touch with us today. Our friendly team of professionals will be happy to answer any of your questions.