Of the 12 million children living in England, just under 400,000 are living within the social care system. Overall, across the UK, over 65,000 children live with foster families. This means that every year, thousands of new foster carers are needed to support and nurture children in care. That’s why it is important that applicants must meet certain fostering requirements. This is to ensure that they can provide the stable environment necessary for a foster child.
At Compass, we acknowledge that our carers come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. However, sometimes there are certain aspects about a person’s lifestyle or living circumstances that mean they are not suitable for accommodating a vulnerable young person.
That’s why we ask that all our applicants meet these basic criteria for fostering:
1. You must have a spare bedroom
We ask that you have a spare room big enough for a young person to live in. This is because we recognise the importance of a young person having a space they are able to call their own.
A foster child can share a room with their own sibling, but not with your birth children. We feel that this is in the best interest of all young people involved.
2. You must be at least 21 years old
We also ask that all applicants are over the age of 21 years old. But, there is no upper age limit for fostering. We appreciate that older carers often bring invaluable experience to the role.
However, all applicants must be active and healthy enough to care for a young person in their home. Fostering can require a lot of energy!
3. You must not own any animals on the banned animal list
Pets usually don’t pose a problem if you want to foster. Often a furry (or not so furry) friend is a great source of comfort for a lot of families and can enrich a young person’s life considerably by helping to build trust.
Still, we ask that all animals kept by foster carers are legal to own within the UK and are adequately cared for. For example, some dog breeds are illegal to own in the UK. This is due to their potentially dangerous nature and temperament.
We can’t allow for any vulnerable child to be placed in a home where they may be at risk of harm. Pet assessments are carried out throughout our fostering application process. If your pet doesn’t pose any risk to others’ safety, they shouldn’t be a problem.
4. You need to have permanent leave to remain in the UK
You, and your partner (if you have one), need to have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or be a full-time UK resident. If you’re not sure what this means or if you have it, you can read about your citizenship here.
5. You must not have any criminal offences relating to violence against children
Whilst it is possible to foster with a criminal record, you will not be considered if you have cautions or convictions against you for offences against children.
Keeping our young people safe is our upmost priority, therefore if you have a conviction relating to child endangerment, or if your partner does, we would not be able to take your enquiry any further.
These criteria are generally commonplace among fostering agencies throughout the UK.
At Compass, meeting these requirements is only the first step in our fostering application process. Each of our applications undergo an in-depth assessment and are required to be approved by a panel of childcare experts before a young person is placed in their home.
While this process can be long, it is necessary in establishing that our young people will be safe and protected in the homes they are placed in. We also feel that the opportunity to change the life of a vulnerable young person makes the entire process worthwhile.