Foster carers provide safe, secure and loving homes for children in Surrey when they can't live with their own families. This might be for a few days, months or until a child becomes an adult, depending on their different situations.
The role of a foster carer includes the 'usual' tasks expected of parents and guardians such as taking children to and from school, attending meetings, visiting friends and supporting the child.
Below are some of the common questions people ask when they are considering becoming a foster carer.
Do I need a spare room?
You will need to have a spare room to foster.
Some children that you foster could share a room if they are related and under a certain age.
If you foster babies, they can share your room up until the age of 12 months.
Short Breaks carers only need to make a room available when the child comes to stay.
What if my home is rented?
You don't need to own your home to foster with us. If you rent, you need to have a stable tenancy and your landlord's agreement.
Do I need to have my own children?
No, but some childcare experience can help.
If you do have your own children living at home with you they need to be happy with becoming a fostering family. We support foster carers' own children in a number of ways.
Is there an age limit?
To foster with us you need to have some life experience and maturity, and be aged over 21 when you start the fostering assessment.
There is no upper age limit for foster carers but you will need to be healthy to meet the needs of a child.
Where are the children from?
Children in foster care come from diverse backgrounds. There is also a number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Surrey who need foster homes. Where possible, we will place children with foster carers who are able to meet their cultural needs.
Can I work and foster?
You can work full-time and be a Supported Lodgings carer or a Short Breaks carer.
It is possible to foster a school-aged child and continue working. You will need friends or family who will get to know the child and be able to care for them outside school hours and during school holidays.
If you are fostering a pre-school-aged child, or are thinking about Parent and Child fostering, one foster carer will need to be at home full-time.
All foster carers will need some flexibility at work so they can be available for planned daytime meetings with social workers and other professionals.
If you claim universal credit and foster you will need to check how this may impact on you.
All foster carers need to register as self-employed with HMRC
What if I'm unemployed?
It is possible to foster and be unemployed. Fostering is not often a barrier to claiming benefits.
Foster carers receive a weekly allowance to cover the living costs of children in their care. These payments are only made when you have a child living with you.
If you are a single carer and have little or no other income, it is worth checking if you can claim universal credit.
As a foster carer you need to register as self employed with the HMRC. Foster carers benefit from tax breaks which means that there is often no tax to pay on income from fostering.
What if I don't live in Surrey?
If you don't live within Surrey but live around the borders of the county then you can still foster with us
Do I need to be married?
We welcome you whatever your relationship status; single, married, divorced, widowed, co-habiting or in a civil partnership.
My first language is not English
You do not need to be a native English speaker to foster. You do need to be able to speak English well enough to talk to and be understood by the child you are fostering.
I am LGBTQ+
We are proud to support LGBTQ+ people and do not discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
I have a disability or long-standing medical condition
All foster carers need to have a medical. Our medical advisor will suggest whether you are well enough to foster. If you take medication for your condition and it doesn't affect your day-to-day life, you are unlikely to be excluded on medical grounds.
What if I smoke or vape?
You cannot foster a child under the age of five if anyone in the house smokes or vapes. You can foster an older child if you only smoke or vape outside the home.
I have a criminal conviction
Having a criminal conviction won't always stop you fostering. However, you cannot foster if you have any convictions against children.