Foster carers are in short supply, but children continue to need safe and nurturing homes. So maybe those who want to be carers don’t enquire because so many myths still prevail. Let’s look at them closely and perhaps we can inspire more confidence in you to change a child’s life for the better:
I can’t foster if I’m single
That’s not the case, you can foster if you are a single female or a single male. There are no requirements to be in a relationship when you apply to foster.
I can’t foster if I have never had my own children
You can absolutely foster if you have no children of your own, but it is advisable to have some experience with young people. This could be formally in a workplace or informally such as caring for the children of your family or friends.
I can’t foster if I am part of the LGBT+ community
You can foster no matter how you identify your sexual orientation or your gender identity. We welcome applications from gay, lesbian, heterosexual couples or individuals alike.
I’m too old to foster
You’re never too old to start. There is no upper age limit to foster. If you’re thinking about what to do with your retirement, think about fostering. Your life experience could make the biggest difference to a child. At Newcastle City Council, you should be over the age of 21, but that is the only age restriction.
I don’t own my own home, I rent, so I can’t foster
You can foster whether you rent your home from a private landlord, the council or a housing association. You can foster whether you have a mortgage or own your home outright. You just need a spare room.
I can’t foster if I smoke
The fostering regulations say you cannot foster children under 5 if you smoke. You cannot smoke in the home and we would encourage you to quit smoking if possible.
We all know the reasons why smoking is not behaviour we'd wish to model to children and we won't moralise on the virtues of cessation. But if there was ever motivation to quit, fulfilling your dream of fostering a child must surely be it
I can’t foster when my own children are at home
You can foster with your own children living at home. Ideally, your youngest child should be older than 2 and you must remember that fostering effects everyone in the home. Your children need to agree to this and have some understanding of how this will impact them.
We advise you to foster children 2 years older or younger than your own and you must have a spare room for the foster child as they cannot share a room with your own children.
We encourage your children to ask us any questions, at any time because, as many birth children in fostering families can attest, they foster too.
I can’t foster if I work fulltime
Working alongside fostering is tricky. Essentially, you can work and foster, but perhaps not full-time. Many people who juggle work with their own children will feel it is possible to work full-time and foster, but there are substantial demands placed on foster carer's time. You must attend meetings on a semi-regular basis, you will be expected to keep up with training, a child may not access school in a regular way, they may also have ongoing contact with their birth family which you may have to facilitate.
On top of all of this, children in care can have a lot of emotional issues that may take time to adequately address.
Some jobs can be compatible, but they need to be flexible or have a reduction in hours and you will always have to consider that your first priority is to the child in your care.
I can only foster for the local authority area I live in
You don't need to live in Newcastle to foster for the authority. We recruit within a 50-mile radius. So, if you're in Northumberland, North or South Tyneside, Gateshead, Durham, Sunderland or Middlesbrough and you're interested in changing the life of a child, get in touch.
I can’t foster if I have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety
Mental ill health can be a sensitive subject, but like any diagnosis, if you have sought help, your condition is well managed and you understand that fostering is a highly demanding and potentially stressful task, this shouldn't deter you from enquiring.
It is important to be clear and speak openly about your mental health from as early as possible during the process and you will need to consider that the reasons for your mental ill-health will need to be explored during a fostering assessment.
These subjects can be challenging to contemplate, but we are sensitive to that and will understand that suffering with depression or anxiety can sometimes be difficult to discuss if they result from trauma. But consider this, most children in our care have suffered some kind of significant trauma and you may well have the insight to help them.
I can't foster if I have a dog
Pets are part of the family, and you can absolutely foster if you have animals. There are a few notable exceptions; a few breeds of dog on the dangerous dogs list, but in the main, it is perfectly feasible to foster with pets, dogs included.
Like everyone in the household, they would be subject to a risk assessment during the fostering application process and many children find the presence of a pet comforting and therapeutic.
I can’t foster if I am disabled
This depends entirely on your disability and how this affects you day to day. Every applicant is required to undergo a fostering medical with their GP during the assessment process and this might help determine whether you will be able to carry out the tasks fostering requires. It could help shape your approval category. For instance, the age of children for which you could care.
If you think you are physically and psychologically able to meet the needs of a child or children, then you should enquire.
I can’t foster as I have a criminal record
There are some important exceptions, but yes, you could foster if you have a criminal record. It must be historic, and you must be able to demonstrate that this is no longer a pattern of behaviour.
You cannot foster if you have ever harmed a child or committed a sexual offence.
You do need to be up front about your past as soon as you enquire, and this will be explored further during an assessment
Children in care don’t have contact with their birth families
This depends on the child's plan when they come into care, but broadly speaking, yes, children can still have contact with their birth families and as a foster carer you may be expected to help facilitate this family time. This might include taking a child to and from the arranged place or it could be helping the child to access virtual family time
It is important to understand that this is an important requirement and it is often overlooked as a fostering task when people consider what fostering means.
Ultimately, your job as a foster carer is to keep the child at the centre of everything and understand the conflicting feelings they may have about being your care but still being a part of their birth family.
I can’t afford to foster as I am not paid to care for a child
Financial security is a very legitimate concern when you foster. You are paid when you have a child in your care, the rates of pay vary depending on their age and needs, but as foster carers are self-employed, you are not paid when you don't have a child in your care.
There are no guarantees in fostering, we do not know which child will be in need of our help next or when that might be.
We are currently in need of carers who can accommodate children in their teens and those who need to be cared for with a sibling, so it is likely you would be matched quite quickly if this is within your approval category, but again, nothing is a guarantee in foster care.
If you would like to find out more or start you journey, contact us. You're a phone call away from making a difference to the life of a child.