There are many myths around the question 'who can foster?' but the truth is that most people can.
As long as you are aged over 18, live in Kent or Medway, have a spare bedroom (unless fostering children under the age of two who will need a cot/cotbed in the foster carers’ room), and are willing to take a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, you could apply to be a foster carer.
Our priority is to place our foster children in safe, nurturing and stable homes. To do this, we conduct a range of checks regarding things like employment history, local schools, financial stability and your home.
Age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability have no impact on your ability to provide a loving and supportive home for children.
The criteria below may help in deciding if you're suitable to start fostering with us:
You can foster with us if you:
- have a spare bedroom (or bedrooms)
- rent or own your home
- live in a house or flat
- are married, single or in a relationship
- have children of your own or not
- have pets (we'd assess your pet situation, or if a child has allergies)
- work or your partner works (depending on the type of foster care and the child's needs)
- are retired
- are in receipt of benefits (depending on circumstances)
- are in good health
- are currently fostering with an independent fostering agency, but wish to switch to KCC.
- have the energy and love to give a child or children.
You can be a foster carer and still work
Although it's true that for most children who come into care, you won't be able to work, there are some exceptions.
- If you are fostering as a couple, only one person needs to be available during the day and night. The other parent is able to continue working.
- You could still work if you foster children over the age of 16. You'll need to be flexible enough to attend some meetings and training events but many of our 16+ foster carers also work.
- You could be a 'short break' foster carer who cares for a child during the weekend and evenings to cover other foster carers or for parents of disabled children. This allows you to work during the day.
You can be a foster carer if you have pets
You can have pets and still be a foster carer. Animals can sometimes help a child to bond and to have a common interest, so we certainly don't discourage applications from pet owners. A pet assessment will be undertaken but this just means we need to ask you some extra questions about your pets and their environment. More exotic or dangerous animals would need certain controls, but we'll discuss this with you when you apply.
You can be a foster carer if you claim state benefits
Applications are welcome from people with any level of income, including those who claim state benefits. However, foster care payments may affect any means-tested benefits (such as Job Seekers Allowance).
Foster caring does not count as a form of employment, as carers are not paid when they do not have a child in placement.
Visit GOV.UK for a full explanation of how fostering may affect your benefits.
You can be a foster carer if you smoke
Our aim is to provide a smoke-free environment for every child in foster care.
You will need to either commit to giving up smoking, or have a policy of only smoking outdoors to apply to be a foster carer.
If you smoke, or have smoked in the last 12 months, you will not be able to foster children who are:
- under 5
- diagnosed with asthma or other respiratory conditions
- diagnosed with a heart condition
- diagnosed with glue ear.
You would also need to demonstrate how you will encourage foster children not to smoke or use e-cigarettes if you yourself smoke or use them.