Foster carers provide safe, secure and nurturing 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 the different circumstances.
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, supporting contact with family members, visiting friends and advocating for 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 do 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 be beneficial.
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 through a range of activities and opportunities.
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 in order 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 considering 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 scheduled daytime meetings with social workers and other professionals.
If you are in receipt of 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 necessarily 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 are entitled to claim universal credit.
As a foster carer you need to register as self employed with the HMRC. Foster carers benefit from considerable 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, 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 communicate effectively with the child you are fostering.
I am LGBT+
We are proud to support LGBT+ people and do not discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
I have a disability or long-standing medical condition
All foster carers have to undertake a medical. Our medical advisor will make a recommendation as to whether you are well enough to foster. 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.
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 providing you only smoke or vape outside the home.
I have a criminal conviction
Having a criminal conviction won't necessarily stop you fostering. However, you cannot foster if you have any convictions against children.