role of foster carer

What is foster care?

Foster care provides children with a safe, loving home when they can't live with their birth parents - this can be for a night or two in an emergency situation, several months or even years until they turn eighteen.

There are many different reasons why a child is taken into foster care, ranging from abuse, neglect and the sudden illness of a parent, through to a child arriving unaccompanied in the UK to seek asylum. At these times, local authorities become responsible for the wellbeing of the child and provide them with a safe and secure foster home – sometimes just overnight or for a few days, other times for weeks, months or years. How long each placement lasts depends on the child’s needs and circumstances.

As every child is unique, there are different types of foster care placements, including short-term and long-term foster care, as well as specialist fostering, such as for siblings or children with disabilities. When a child comes into foster care, the local authority will work with the birth family to help the child return home, but sadly this isn’t always possible and some children will either remain in care on a long-term basis until they reach 18 years old or be adopted.

Foster parents provide safe homes for children in need of a temporary arrangement. They’re not the legal guardians, but they have a huge responsibility – for providing safety, encouragement and security, and for acting as a role model. Quite often, these children have had traumatic experiences which sometimes present in the form of behaviour and their ability to form trusting relationships with adults. 

Even if the child is only with them for a short period, foster parents play an important part in transforming their life and helping them take positive steps forward. It’s a powerful, influential and rewarding role. But it can also be extremely challenging.

Could you foster?

Around 65,000 children and young people living in foster care in the UK and that’s why we need even more highly motivated people to join our team of professional foster parents.

What is foster care

Role of a foster parent

As well as being a role model to a child and providing them with a safe and happy home, there are some other key responsibilities, such as:

  • Helping a child learn to trust adults and form positive attachments
  • Making sure they get to school and supporting their education
  • Helping them develop everyday skills to take into later life
  • Taking them on away days and holidays to give them a rich and rewarding experience
  • Working with other professionals to ensure they receive the support they need
  • Taking part in regular training to constantly develop your skills
  • Keeping records of their progress and achievements
  • Encouraging positive contact with their birth family (if appropriate)

Fostering is a career and you’ll find the role grows as you develop new skills and understanding, so you’ll never stop learning.

Shauna's story

Shauna shares her personal journey in foster care with Orange Grove, and how her foster family completely changed her life...

foster care uk

Why foster?

Most of our foster parents tell us they become foster parents because they feel drawn to the work, enjoy having children in their lives and want to improve the life experiences for vulnerable children. The fact that they can see this transformation taking place in their homes is the reason fostering is so rewarding.

At Orange Grove, we really focus on relationships and building them up for everyone’s benefit. It’s a feature of our work and it helps children in care and families form strong bonds. We find that many of these bonds last far beyond the placement and well into later life, so fostering is truly life-changing for everyone involved.

There's also plenty of other benefits, including being able to learn new skills, using your life experiences to help others and make incredible memories as a family. 

Reasons to foster   Enquire now

What is fostering?

Who can foster?

Let’s start with the must-haves – because there aren’t many!

You must be over 21 and have a legal right to work in the UK. You’ll also need a spare room in your house that’s always available, though you don’t need to own the house you’re living in. Finally, you must be committed to changing the life of a child in care.

And that’s it. As long as you meet these requirements, you can apply to foster. 

Fostering criteria

Step 1

Can you Foster?

Step 2

Home Visit

Step 3

Fostering Assessment

Step 4

Attend Panel

The fostering journey

The process to become a foster parent may not be as difficult as you think – we'll aim to complete your fostering assessment within 4-6 months.

We're here every step of the way to guide you through your assessment and provide you with excellent training and support, so you feel confident and prepared for your first child.

How to become a foster parent

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Types of fostering

Types of fostering

There are many different types of foster care placements, including long and short term, respite, parent and child and more. 

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foster care allowance calculator

Allowance calculator

Try our fostering allowance calculator today to find out how much you could receive from fostering.

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About us

Founded in 1996 by two social workers who understood that strong relationships held the key to successful fostering.

Read More

Frequently asked questions

How does fostering work?

The ultimate goal of fostering is to improve the outcomes for children, so they can go on to lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.

To achieve this, foster care providers, such as Orange Grove, recruit, train and reward a diverse team of passionate individuals who open their homes to children in need. And we’re always on the lookout for people interested in becoming a foster parent.

When a child enters care, they will have their needs professionally assessed and included within their personal care plan. We work closely with local authorities to find a foster parent who will be able to meet these needs and care for them for as long or as little as required.

Foster parents may care for a child for a night or two, several months or years, or even on a long-term basis until the child turns 18.

What's the difference between fostering and adoption?

There are some key differences between fostering and adoption. The main difference is around legal responsibility for the child; when you foster a child, the legal responsibility often remains with the birth parents or the local authority in some cases, however, you become the legal guardian when adopting.

Other key differences include;

  • Length of time you'll care for a child - when fostering, you can care for a child for as little as a day or two, and up to 18 years until they reach independence. With adoption, you'll care for the child as you would your own birth children and they'll be part of your family forever.
  • Age of children - Children who are looking to be adopted are generally younger (under 6), whereas with fostering, the young person is likely to be over 6 or in foster care with siblings. 
  • Allowances - foster parents receive a weekly fostering allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child and provides them with a professional fee. This financial package is not available to adoptive parents.

Find out more about fostering

Do I need any experience to become a foster parent?

Previous experience with children, either in a professional or personal capacity, is beneficial but it's absolutely not essential.

Our foster parent training programme will provide you with all the skills and knowledge you need to work with children in foster care right from the get-go. Plus, you'll have your very own supervising social worker, a family support worker and regional manager by your side, offering expert guidance and ongoing support. 

Find out more about our foster parent training

Do I need to have a spare room to foster?

Yes - a spare bedroom is essential and will need to be large enough to hold a single bed, a wardrobe and a small desk. 

Learn more about the requirements of a spare bedroom and why it's important that children in care have their own space below. 

Find out more 

 

More FAQs

Got some more questions? Find out the answers here.

View all FAQs

Speak to our team

Whether you’re ready to start your journey or just want to chat to an expert, we're here to talk.





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One of our team is available to talk to you over the phone to answer any of your fostering queries.

0800 369 8513

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