If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, you might be wondering if foster children can share a bedroom.
One of our key fostering criteria is that all foster carers must have a spare room to be approved to foster. But why is this the case, and are there any potential exceptions to this rule?
Read on to learn more about the fostering regulations on bedroom sharing, and whether children sharing bedrooms is allowed with fostering.
Why Do Foster Children Need Their Own Room?
Having a space of their own is important for all foster children. They need a place to feel safe and secure, and where they can retreat when a new situation or environment becomes overwhelming.
Children often come into the foster care system having experienced trauma, such as abuse or neglect. They may deal with attachment issues or exhibit some challenging behaviour as a result, and will be further stressed by having to deal with a new environment and being removed from their family. Because of this, foster children need space of their own to process their feelings.
Having their own room gives a foster child a place to be alone – and, unlike locations outside the home, you can be close at hand to offer support and reassurance. Having separate rooms will also help mitigate sibling rivalry and conflict with other children, such as birth children, in the home.
Can Foster Siblings Share a Room?
When it comes to foster children having their own bedroom, there is one potential exception to this rule: same sex siblings.
This is subject to each individual local authority, and we will always consider what scenario will be the least disruptive for the children. A scenario in which this might be considered is if if two young siblings have always shared a room. In this situation, it may well be better for them to continue sharing a bedroom in a new house to help them settle better.
The bedroom in question must be big enough to comfortably accommodate both children, affording each their own space and privacy. To share a room, siblings must be the same sex, and most local authorities will only allow sharing up to a certain age (usually around 9 to 11).
Deborah and Brian, two of our foster carers, have experience fostering siblings who share a bedroom. Deborah and Brian foster two twin sisters aged 7, and a third sister aged 3. “Before they came to live with us, they were used to all three of them sharing a bedroom,” says Deborah.
Now the twins share a room with bunk beds, while the youngest has her own space. “The older girls love the fact that their little sister isn’t in their room with them, and she loves that she has her own room – so everyone is happy.”
“Being three girls in the house, they have a lot of toys and clothes and everything,” says Deborah about her foster children. “They’re good girls and they tidy up, so it’s not as bad as it could be.”
“And wow, they have changed our lives! They’ve filled our house and lives with fun, laughter, cuddles and drama, and given us insight into the world through their eyes, which is full of resilience, hope, joy and finding fun in everything they do.”
What Are the Fostering Regulations on Bedroom Sharing?
According to the UK Minimum Standards for Fostering, a foster home must be able to comfortably accommodate all who live there – this means that communal spaces need to be big enough for the whole family to live comfortably.
The foster care bedroom requirements UK state that each child over the age of three (including birth children) should have their own bedroom. If that’s not possible, each child sharing a room must have their own area within the bedroom.
The national minimum standards emphasise the fact that foster children need privacy, security and safety in order for them to be considered well-cared for. Having their own bedroom helps to facilitate this.
While there isn’t a specific law to prevent people fostering without a spare room, we think you’ll find that most agencies (including us) will not approve any foster carers who cannot meet our basic criteria. We only allow room sharing for foster siblings in special circumstances – meaning that all our carers need to have a spare room before they can start fostering with us.
You can also find out more about becoming a foster carer with Compass by getting touch with us here.