Foster Care FAQs

Find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about fostering

Foster Care FAQs

Find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about fostering

Foster Care FAQ’s

Find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about fostering

General Information about
Foster Care in the UK

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

It can take about four to five months. This may seem like a while but this allows time for four full days of training and the full and comprehensive assessment process. Your assessment cannot be completed until you’ve done the training. Once you have been approved as a foster carer, we will start to look for potential matches with young people and then you’ll be off to a flying start.

Read all about the assessment process and Lika’s training for foster carers.

What are the essential requirements of a foster carer?

There aren’t too many essentials, but you will need to:

  • Be over the age of 21
  • Have a spare room
  • Be financially stable
  • Not have a criminal record that means you pose a risk to a child
  • Have a good command of verbal and written English
  • Be eligible to remain in the UK long term.

Even if you do not think you meet all of these requirements right now, we would still love to hear from you as we may still be able to help you start your fostering journey.

Read our article: 12 essential things you need to become a foster carer.

Do I need qualifications to become a foster carer?

You don’t need formal qualifications to become a foster carer. Your life skills and experience of the world are the most important factors that will influence how we assess your strengths and the areas you need to develop. Once you’re a foster carer, we will send you on lots of bespoke training throughout your fostering career. And while you don’t require recognised qualifications, we can help you work towards a this if that’s something that interests you.

Can I transfer to Lika from my current foster care agency?

If you’re in the Greater London and area and you need to switch from your current foster care agency, we’d be very happy to hear from you!

Read all about transferring to Lika.

What is a supervising social worker?

Every foster carer is allocated a supervising social worker. They play a different role to the social worker who works with the young person.

They support you by matching children to your care, providing training, advocating for your needs and ideas, supporting you at professional meetings and offering you regular supervision in your home (which is your opportunity to chat, off-load, share experiences and discuss ideas to support the child).

Read all about how a supervising social worker supports a foster carer.

What is a fostering panel?

All foster carer assessments go through an independent panel in order to make sure we are offering children high-quality care.

Panellists include experienced social workers, an educational specialist, therapists, health practitioners and a young person who was brought up in care. They read and discuss your assessment.

As part of this process they will meet you and the assessing social worker to ask questions. The panel will then recommend the type of placements you can accept (age range, ability, etc.). Do not worry; they are a friendly bunch!

Read all about what it’s like appearing before a fostering panel.

What do foster carers get paid?

We’ve answered the most common money-related questions here.

Can I continue to work if I become a foster carer?

It depends on the situation. We’ve answered this question more fully on our Financial FAQs page.

Can I foster if I have a long-term health condition?

We want people from all backgrounds to become foster carers.

However, your health is important to us. While having a long-term health condition would not in itself prevent you from fostering, as part of the assessment every potential foster carer must have a medical examination.

We would need to see that your health would not be negatively impacted by becoming a carer and that a young person would not be significantly impacted by your health needs.

Will my mental health history prevent me from fostering?

Definitely not. There is no diagnosis that can automatically prevent you fostering and we welcome people with diverse mental health histories. As part of any application there will need to be a medical recommendation given by your doctor. It would need to explain if your doctor felt any mental health diagnosis might impact your ability to stay healthy while also looking after the needs of a young person.

What is the difference between fostering and adopting?

Good question, as they are very different.

Adoption is a process which legally removes all rights and responsibilities from the child’s birth parents and transfers them to the adoptive parents. The child takes the surname of their adoptive family and loses all rights of inheritance from their birth parents. Contact with an adopted child’s birth family may be restricted to letter box communication or some infrequent face-to-face contact.

Children who are placed for adoption are generally below the age of seven. Unfortunately, older children are not easy to place for adoption, so are more likely to be in a long-term foster care placement.

Fostering does not provide the same legal security for either the foster carers or the child.

Parental responsibility may be shared between the birth parents and the Local Authority. As a foster carer, you have something called Delegated Authority. In a foster care situation there will usually be some level of contact between the birth family and young person, and it will be encouraged as long as it is safe.

Social workers remain as part of any fostering arrangement for both the young person and foster carers. This is not always the case for adoption.

What is Delegated Authority?

When you are looking after children on behalf of the Local Authority, they will delegate parental authority to you. This means you will have some decision-making authority about the young person’s day-to-day life.

This is very different to the total responsibility you would have with birth or adopted children. The kinds of authority you have consent for is negotiated and discussed in detail at the start of any new placement and is reviewed regularly. There’s more information at The Fostering Network.

Will I have a say about whom I foster?

We think this is one of the most important areas when it comes to setting up a fostering home. Matching you to a young person who fits your strengths is important. You are the crucial element of any matching and we will be guided by your thoughts and feelings on any potential placements we think might be perfect. You have your say from the beginning to the end of any placement.

Read more about how foster carers and young people are matched.

Do foster children have to have separate bedrooms?

The short answer is yes. The exception is babies, who can usually share a room with you until 12 to 18 months of age. There’s Legislation that guides this. It says it is important for a young person to have their own space to offer safety, relaxation and privacy. This may sound unrealistic in London. However, we only want what is best for our children.

How many foster children can I take?

If you have the space, you can have more than one child, especially when there are large sibling groups who need to be placed together. However, fostering can be a challenging task, so we would need to take into consideration how much time, energy and support you have to assess your ability to meet the needs of more than one child in your care.

I am single; can I still foster?

That is a big yes! We have all different types of fostering families. But ensuring that you do not take on too much is important. If you are able to manage the needs of a young person and the expectations of being a foster carer for your young person, being a single carer is fine. Fun fact: more than 70 per cent of our foster carers are single carers.

Find out more about single people and foster care.

Can I foster if I am in a new relationship or recently married?

You would need to be in a relationship for at least two years. Offering a consistent and stable home to a young person is important and we feel it is best if you have had some time together before applying.

Despite one of you potentially being the primary carer, we would need you to apply jointly as we would expect that you would be going on this exciting journey together. Mark us on your calendar and get in touch when ready.

Will our religion affect our application to foster?

We want carers of all faith backgrounds because it is important that children have the opportunity to be placed in families that have similar values and beliefs to their own. You will need to bear in mind how you will discuss alternative religious beliefs or sexuality with a child, because it is important that differences are valued and respected.

Read more about how religious and cultural issues are handled in foster care.

Can a gay couple apply to become foster carers?

Yes, please. We accept all sexual orientations who want to apply to foster. This is not only something Lika values but it is also protected by law.

Am I too old to foster?

We would love people of all ages to become foster carers. However, this is not always practical. The upper age limit will depend on your ability to meet the needs of the fostering role. Your physical and mental health will be taken into consideration as well as your support network. Fostering can be demanding, so we would not want to put you at any risk by getting you into a position where you felt overwhelmed. The average age of a Lika foster carer is 54 years young.

I have a criminal record; can I become a foster carer?

Yes, but we would need you to talk openly and honestly about your record. We are aware that we all make mistakes; it’s what we learn from them that matters. However, some criminal histories, including offences against children or violent crimes, mean that we would be unlikely to progress with your assessment. All potential carers must have an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) police check as part of the application process.

What level of English do I need to have to foster?

A large part of your role is to advocate for the young person in your care. Language is an important part of this, and we would recommend that at least the primary carer is fluent in English and is competent reading and writing in English.

My partner and/or I do not have British residency. Does this matter?

It is important that at least the primary carer is a British resident or has Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. We would not want your immigration status to impact on the continuity of care a young person was receiving.

I am moving home. Can I apply to foster now?

You can. However, your new home would need to be part of your assessment. Ideally, we would like you to be settled into your new home before applying to foster. A new fostering placement and moving into a home at the same time could be difficult to manage.

Can foster children come on holiday with us, even if it’s abroad?

Yes, and we hope they do! We would want any child placed with you to experience being part of your family. That includes holidays. The decision to allow the child to go on holiday with you is made by your social worker. However, there would need to be a significant reason to deny your young person this opportunity.

I am currently renovating or redecorating my home. Can I apply to foster now?

You can. However, if there are extensive renovations or improvements that will most likely not be completed by the time your assessment is finished, we would recommend you wait. We will need clear timescales for completion and confirmation that the work will be finalised before the assessment begins. We know that building works often run over!

Can I foster if I have pets?

We love foster families with pets. We also know that they are part of your family, and with this their needs will also be considered as part of any assessment and matching to a young person. Some children cannot be placed with pets for numerous reasons, so you will need to bear this in mind because it could impact on how long it takes for Lika to match you to a young person.

What if we do not get on with our young person?

There are always ups and downs in any relationship and this is the kind of thing we prepare you for as part of your fostering training. Lika foster carers receive extensive training and support to be able to manage in difficult moments.

We place a lot of emphasis on the match of the young person in your care to meet your skill level. Sometimes, it may be best for a child to move to another foster family.

However, this is a very last resort and the decision is not taken lightly. Every change in a young person’s life significantly impacts on their emotional resilience and ability to bounce back.

What happens if a complaint or allegation is made against a foster carer?

You can read all about concerns, complaints and allegations on our When Things Go Wrong page.

Can I still smoke if I become a foster carer?

You can, but we would prefer you to be smoke-free. Lika expects all foster homes to be smoke-free to protect the health of the child placed. If you are a smoker and would not be able to give up, then we would need you to smoke outside. As a smoker, you would not be matched for baby placements, children with severe disabilities or children with health issues such as asthma.

Questions about
Training & Support

What training do Lika offer?

We offer a lot. Any foster carer will be expected to do training as part of their role. This is an area that Lika prioritises and takes great pride in. We want you to be the best that you can be and to do that you need the best tools available.

Read all about the training Lika offers to our foster carers.

How is Lika’s training different to other fostering agencies?

All agencies will offer you training. However, the approach they take, what they focus on and how this is prioritised will differ between agencies.

Lika’s approach is based on the principles of Systemic Family Therapy and this influences all the training we offer. This means our training is grounded in creating more dynamic and stronger relationships between the foster carer and young person. Lika also offers more training in your first 12 months than most other agencies.

Read all about the training Lika offers to our foster carers.

Who needs to attend training?

The majority of training is for applicants and approved foster carers. However, we do like to broaden this out a bit.

We also offer your children training designed to help them understand fostering and their role as part of the fostering household. This is a big step for you, but also for your children. We will want to meet with them, not just to see how they feel about being a part of your fostering journey, but also to see how they will be part of it.

If you are a couple, we expect both of you to attend the training offered. We would also love to see your support network, if they would like to see us. Our training is also offered to your backup carers. They’re an important part of your support network, so we think it is helpful they are able to experience the same training you do. It just means everyone is on the same page.

Read all about the training Lika offers to our foster carers.

Do I have to do all the training?

We would love it if you could. The Fostering Minimum Standards regulations outline the minimum training that is expected from you if you are to continually meet the requirements of an approved foster carer. At Lika we set the bar above the minimum asked of you, because we want you to be brilliant. However, we are flexible in what we offer. Training is offered on both half and full days, in person and online, and is offered on different days in the week — so you have plenty of flexibility.

Read all about the training Lika offers to our foster carers.

What happens if I miss some days of training?

We understand that this will happen, but it is important to catch up. We have a running list of training days in multiple cohorts. You can pick up the days you have missed at another time in the year. We are here to make sure you succeed, so we will try our best to accommodate you.

Read all about the training Lika offers to our foster carers.

What if I’m not very good at studying?

That is OK. We all learn differently. These training days are designed to be both educational and fun. They are also an opportunity to meet other carers. These training days are not formal. You do not need to study, sit exams or write extensively. It is more about your participation and listening to the ideas presented.

Training days are interactive and experiential. You will always be given handouts, we might recommend reading we think you’ll be interested in, and we might offer you additional online learning opportunities to complement the areas you enjoy.

We want you to attend as many training days as possible, so we will support you however we can.

Read all about the training Lika offers to our foster carers.

Can I work towards a qualification?

During your first year in fostering you need to complete something called the Training, Support and Development Standards (or TSDS). This booklet is completed over 12 months, with the support of your supervising social worker.

The TSDS promotes seven standards of professionalism. The booklet asks you to provide evidence of how you are meeting these principles and values, which should underpin the way you care for children.

The booklet is also evidence of the great things you are doing in your role and how you have supported your young person to meet their development needs. Once you have completed your TSDS, Lika would love to support you with more specific learning that you might like to work towards. Perhaps a diploma course specific to your role as a foster carer?

Read all about the training Lika offers to our foster carers.

What support does Lika offer aside from training?

We love to show our support and dedication to you in numerous ways. We offer you regular and thorough supervision with one of our dual qualified social workers (this means they are qualified as social workers and systemic practitioners).

Supervision is a space where you share ideas, and guidance is offered as well as linking your training to your day-to-day role as a foster carer.

Read about the support a foster carer gets, or visit our Support for Foster Carers page to find out more.

Next Steps

If you’re keen to become a Lika foster carer, you can read more about our approach or find out about transferring to Lika.
If you have questions or you’re ready to get in touch, choose an option below

Next Steps

If you’re keen to become a Lika foster carer, you can read more about our approach or find out about transferring to Lika. If you have questions or you’re ready to get in touch, choose an option below