At Compass, we look for the potential in all our foster carers. We know that every foster carer is unique, with their own skills and experience to bring to the fostering role.
We’re often asked, ‘can I foster with a criminal record?’. Many people believe that having a criminal record, or living with someone that has a criminal record, will prevent them from being approved as a foster carer. This isn’t the case!
However, while having a criminal record won’t necessarily disqualify you from becoming a foster carer, there are some things we will need to consider during your application process.
Assessing Your Criminal Record
While talking about your criminal record, or the criminal record of someone in your home, may feel daunting – it’s important that you disclose this information as soon as possible when beginning the application process.
Being open and honest with us about your criminal record is very important. Not only does it save time and makes the application process smoother, but it also says a lot about you as a person.
Our assessment process is very thorough, allowing us to really get to know you and what you can bring to the fostering role. During your assessment, we’ll conduct a range of necessary checks and references, including a DBS risk assessment. A DBS check helps us better understand your criminal offence and whether you pose a risk to a foster child, taking into consideration the nature, scale and circumstances of your offence.
The Nature of the Crime
The safety and wellbeing of our children and young people is always our top priority. This means that, when it comes to fostering with a criminal record, we need to consider the nature of your criminal offence.
Minor offences should not prevent you from becoming an approved foster carer. However, the law states that any convictions that relate to offences against children, sexual offences or domestic offences will automatically prevent you from fostering.
We will not consider any applicants with a history of serious convictions such as sexual assault, rape, violence, or crimes against children. Unfortunately, if your criminal record reflects any risk to children, you will not be able to continue in the application process.
The Scale and Circumstances of the Crime
For us to get a better idea of what you would be like as a foster carer, we need to look at the full picture. Alongside the nature of your criminal offence, we’ll also consider the scale of offending and the circumstances of the crime.
This means we’ll look at how many offences you have, and whether the crime you committed was an isolated incident or not. We’ll also consider the circumstances and motivation for the crime, as these will also have an impact on our decision.
How Long Ago the Crime was Committed
With time comes perspective, and the opportunity for reflection. As part of your assessment process with us, we’ll will take how long ago the crime was committed into consideration, and how you have led your life since.
At Compass Fostering, we appreciate that each of our foster carers bring something different to the fostering role. Many successful foster carers have their own significant or challenging life experiences to draw on – some of which may have brought them into contact with the criminal justice system. Often, these experiences enhance their ability to understand, emphasise and connect the children and young people in their care.
When considering your ability to foster with a criminal record, we’ll also talk to you to ask you how you feel about your offence today. We want to see how you have moved forward from the offence, and the kinds of changes you have made in your life since.
Moving Forward with Your Application
Following the consideration of each of these things, we’ll decide whether we would like to move forward with your fostering application.
The main thing we take into consideration is your ability to care for a child and provide a safe and welcoming environment for them. If we feel confident in your ability to do so, you’ll move forward onto the next step of the assessment process.
You can read more on the UK legislation around fostering with a criminal record here.
Alternatively, if you still have some questions and would like to know more about fostering a child with a criminal, give us a call on 0800 566 8317. To request your free digital brochure about fostering, get in touch with us here.