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Could you foster?

We are always keen to hear from you if you are interested in fostering with Surrey County Council.

Below are some of the common questions people ask when they are thinking about applying to foster. If you don’t find the answer you need for your specific circumstance, do give our fostering team a call on 0800 0969 626.


Do I need to have my own children to foster?

  • You don’t need to have your own children to foster. Some of our carers foster while their children live at home, others foster once their children have left home and other carers foster but don’t have their own children. What unites them is their desire to make a difference to the lives of the children that they foster.
  • The welfare and needs of all children are important, so any children living at home with you need to be happy with becoming a fostering family. Surrey supports foster carers’ own children through a range of activities and opportunities.

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How old do I need to be?

  • To foster with Surrey County Council you need to have some life experience and maturity, and be aged between 21 and 70 when you start the fostering assessment.

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Do I need a spare room?

  • You will need to have a spare room for a fostered child or young person. Some children that you foster could share a room if they are related and under a certain age. If you become a Short Breaks carer you don't need a permanently spare room, but need to make one available to any child who comes to stay.

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I don’t own my own home

  • You don't need to own your own home to foster with Surrey as long as you have a stable tenancy and your landlord agrees.

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Does my cultural heritage matter?

  • We welcome applicants from a range of different cultural backgrounds as we seek to match children with carers from a similar cultural background.

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Can I work and foster?

  • If you are fostering a pre-school child, one carer will need to be at home full-time.
  • It is possible to foster a school-age child while you work. You will need to have friends or family who know the child well, so they are able to care for them outside school hours and during school holidays.
  • For One to One fostering and Parent and Child fostering one carer must be at home full-time.
  • You can work full-time and be a Supported Lodgings provider or a Short Breaks carer.
  • You will need to be available for scheduled daytime meetings with social workers and other professionals.
  • All foster carers need to register as self-employed with HMRC.

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What if I'm unemployed?

  • It is possible to foster and be unemployed. Fostering is not necessarily a barrier to claiming benefits.
  • If you are a single carer and have little or no other income, it is worth checking if you are entitled to claim income support.
  • If you are in receipt of working tax credit, you may be treated as if you are in full-time paid work.
  • As a foster carer you would need to register as self employed with the HMRC. There are considerable tax breaks for carers which means that there is often no tax payable on any income from fostering.

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What if I don’t live in Surrey?

  • If you don’t live within Surrey then you can still foster for us if you are within a 45 minute drive from our office in either Redhill or Woking.

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Do I need to be married?

  • You don’t need to be married if you'd like to foster a child. If you want to make a difference to a child by fostering we welcome you whether you are single, married, co-habiting or in a civil partnership.

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My first language is not English

  • You need to be able to speak English fluently enough to communicate effectively with the child you are fostering. We welcome applicants from a range of different cultural backgrounds as we will try to match children with carers with a similar cultural heritage.

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I am lesbian / gay / bisexual / transgender

  • We are always keen to hear from you if you'd like to foster a child and we do not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

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I have a disability or long-standing medical condition

  • All potential foster carers will need to undertake a medical as part of their assessment process which we will pay for. Our medical officer will advise us if you are well enough to foster and if you have a condition controlled by medication that doesn't affect your day-to-day life, you are unlikely to be excluded on medical grounds.

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What if I smoke?

  • If you or anyone in your house smokes, you cannot to foster a child under five. You can foster an older child providing you only smoke outside the home.

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I have a criminal conviction

  • You can't foster if you have any criminal convictions involving violence or convictions against children.

Still interested? Great! Find out about the different types of fostering at Surrey, and the process involved in becoming a foster carer. Or if you are ready, do contact us to arrange your first home visit.

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