Foster Care FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions - If you can't find what you are looking for below, please call 0800 566 8317.

Here are a number of our most frequently asked questions from potential foster carers. If these don’t answer your question, please get in touch.

Will a criminal record prevent me from becoming a foster carer?

Not necessarily. We assess each case individually and the only criminal convictions that prevent you fostering by law are those that relate to offences against children or other sexual offences. The most important thing is that you are honest with us from the start about any convictions you may have so that we can ascertain how this may or may not affect the children or young people that are placed into your care.

How long is it likely to take to become a foster carer?

Generally we aim to get people through the process in about 4 months, but it can take up to 6 months depending on individual circumstances. During this time you will be visited multiple times by your allocated Social Worker and will undertake our Skills to Foster training course.

I am single, can I still be a foster carer?

Any adult can foster as long as they can demonstrate they have time, emotional space, reasonable room in their homes and a passion for encouraging children to meet their full potential.

Can I be a foster carer if I smoke?

Yes, but you will be limited in the age range of children you can care for. It’s vitally important that fostered children and young people have positive role models in their life’s, so we may ask that if you must smoke you do so outdoors and not in your home or your car.

Do I need to be able to drive?

It is our preference that you have a full driving licence and access to a car but it is not always essential. You will however need to show that you can provide alternative transport for things like school or doctor’s appointments.

I rent my property, can I still foster?

Many people foster whilst living in rented accommodation, you just need to make sure you get consent from your landlord or agent.

Can I foster if I have lodgers/non-family members living with me?

Yes, if you give notice on your lodger prior to completion of the assessment process.

However, if the lodger or non-family member has lived with you for 12 months and will not be leaving the home and agree to be involved in the assessment process; they will complete necessary checks and references.

Do I need a spare room to foster?

This is one requirement that is mandatory. You will not be able to start the application process until you have a room available.

I work, can I still foster?

Yes you can but you will need to be available to attend a variety of meetings (which will more than likely be during the day) and if the child is not at school (holidays, illness etc.)

Can I choose the ages of the children I wish to foster?

We ask that all of our carers go for approval of 0-18’s but you will be able to state a preference of which ages you would like to foster. We spend a lot of time making sure each child and foster family are well matched and will never force a placement which isn’t right for either side.

The local authority has a fostering service so why do we need independent fostering agencies?

Unfortunately the number of children who become looked after far exceeds the levels which local authorities are able to support. This is why independent fostering agencies are required to offer extra support and facilities to foster families and children nationally. As a private agency, Compass Fostering works closely with local authorities to help to try and provide the best outcomes for children and young people in need.

Will the foster children have challenging behaviour?

Because of the nature of the children and young people that come into care, it is a fact that some of them will display challenging or difficult behaviour. Before a child arrives at your home, you will always be given all the information we have on any potential difficulties they may have.

Will fostering affect my own children?

Fostering impacts on the whole family and will affect your children, but we’ve found that this can often be a hugely positive experience for birth children. Many benefit from the friendship of having a new foster sibling in their home. At the same time, everyone’s experience of fostering is different, so you will need to talk to your children about how they might feel about having another child or young person join their family.

Will I or children I am looking after have contact with their birth family?

It is important that children remain in contact with their birth families unless the placing authority or the court thinks this is not in the best interests of the child.

Foster carers, as part of the fostering service, have a duty to promote contact between a fostered child, their parents, relatives and friends unless this is not practicable to do so or compromises their welfare. Each contact arrangement will be based on the child’s individual needs; it may require the contact to take place at an agreed venue and may be supervised by an appropriate adult.

What are the next steps after my initial enquiry?

You will be contacted over the phone over the next couple of days, and will be asked to answer a few questions about yourself, your family and your situation. If our recruitment team think you would benefit from us visiting you to discuss fostering with Compass further, an initial visit will be arranged at a convenient time for you.

Who will visit and how long will it take?

You will be visited by a qualified social worker working locally. The visit should take around 2 hours.

Do I need any documentation for the visit?

You need three pieces of ID for the visit, (Documents should provide evidence of name / address / date of birth / Photo e.g. Passport / Driving Licence / Birth Certificate / Utility Bills / Bank Statement etc).

Who needs to be present at the visit?

All adult members need to be present for the visit where practical.

What happens during the visit?

The social worker will discuss fostering with Compass with you. To get to know you, they will talk to you about why you want to foster, about your family and your life. They will also have a look a look around your home to see if it is suitable for fostering. At the end of the visit, the social should inform you of what recommendation they will be making, regarding progressing your fostering application. However, the final decision about this will be made by the panel and assessment manager within a reasonable timescale.

What happens after my visit?

If we feel you are suitable to foster, and you agree with us, we will progress you to the next stage of the process, which is the fostering assessment. We will then contact you to let you know who your assessor will be, and when this is going to proceed.

Are there many checks to be completed during assessment?

Due to the nature of the role of fostering, there are a number of checks which will need to be carried out both on you, your partner and anyone else living in the house.

Can I transfer from another agency/local authority?

Yes you can! You can read about this in more detail by clicking here.