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Dispelling the myths: A guide to becoming a foster carer

The UK is facing a shortage of 9,000 foster carers this year, Action for Children has said. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/DPA/Press Association Images

The UK is facing a shortage of 9,000 foster carers this year as many people mistakenly believe they would not be allowed to foster children, a children's charity has said.

Action for Children found that many people believe they would not be allowed to foster children due to a number of "myths".

The foster carer myths

  • I'm too old - Legally you must be over 18 in England and Wales or 21 in Scotland to foster. However, there are no upper age limits.
  • I'm male - It does not matter what your gender is, both men and woman can become foster carers.
  • I'm gay - Whether you are straight, gay or bisexual it makes no difference, applicants are welcome from anyone regardless of their sexual orientation.
  • I live in rented accommodation - You do not need to own your own house to foster a child. As long as each child has their own bedroom you can foster.
  • I do not work full time - Do not worry, carers are needed who can give their full-time attention to the children and young people staying with them and the role is paid.
There are approximately 91,000 people currently in care in the UK. Credit: Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire

How to become a foster carer

  • There are a number of fostering services that you can contact - they will send further information about fostering for them and ask questions about your suitability to foster.
  • The local fostering service will then either invite you to attend an information session or offer for a member of their team to come visit you.
  • Your application to become a foster carer will then begin.
  • The fostering service will assign a social worker who will support you throughout the process and carry out a thorough assessment of you and your household.
  • Thorough background checks from the Criminal Records Bureau, local authority and personal and professional referees will be undertaken during the application process.
  • Once the assessment is complete, your social worker will submit a full report to the fostering panel who will consider your suitability to foster and make a recommendation.
  • The fostering service will make a final decision about your approval to foster and inform you in writing if you have been successful along with your terms of approval.

Useful links

If you live in England or Wales, you can also use this website to contact your local council and apply to be a foster carer.

The British Association of Adoption and Fostering offers support and guidance.