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Fostering - What you need to know - The Fostering Network

Children come into care for many different reasons. Three-quarters of children in care are living with foster families who offer them safety, stability and security for as long as it’s needed. Fostering transforms children’s lives providing them with a positive experience of family life and enabling them to make the best possible start to adulthood.

Fostering is one of the most varied, challenging and rewarding things you can do. Thousands of children across the country are looked after by foster carers in a time of need, and right now there are 64,000 fostered children living with around 55,000 foster families in the UK.

Foster carers are child care experts and work as part of the professional team around the child. They are trained before being approved and have the opportunity to continue training while they foster. Many go on to receive qualifications in childcare or take on other roles, such as supporting their service with foster carer recruitment or by sitting on an approval panel.

Many foster carers specialise in certain areas that could include caring for children with specific needs and disabilities. They can also decide whether to care for children in an emergency situation, on a short-term basis or for a longer period of time as a more permanent placement for the child. Some people look after children for a short time as respite carers, giving their own family or full-time foster carers a break.

There is always a need for more foster carers, particularly those who are able to look after teenagers and sibling groups. The Fostering Network estimates that 7,000 more foster families are needed this year to ensure that all children can be found the right foster home first time.

Without more foster families coming forward, children may find themselves living a long way from their family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who might not have the right skills and experience to meet their specific needs. 

Foster carers can come from all walks of life, just as fostered children come from a variety of upbringings. Many myths surrounding who can take on the role still exist. People of all ages can have the skills and experience to foster and you do not need to have your own children to do so. Services actively encourage people of all backgrounds and lifestyles to enquire, regardless of age, gender, marital status, religion or sexual orientation. As long as you are over the age of 21, have a spare bedroom and can give a child the time and care they need, you can become a foster carer. Many fostering services find that health care professionals often have the requisite experience and skills to make excellence foster carers.

If you are interested in finding out more about fostering or becoming a foster carer you should visit the Could You Foster section of The Fostering Network’s website.

The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. We are the essential network for fostering, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children. We support foster carers to transform children’s lives and we work with fostering services and the wider sector to develop and share best practice.

We work to ensure all fostered children and young people experience stable family life and we are passionate about the difference foster care makes. We champion fostering and seek to create vital change so that foster care is the very best it can be. 

The Fostering Network

For more information on The Fostering Network and how to become a foster carer, visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/couldyoufoster

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