Fostering FAQ

Have a question about fostering? Hopefully, we have the answers you are looking for below.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to speak to a member of our friendly fostering team at 020 3045 4400.

How do I apply to become a foster carer or host and support provider?

To start your journey with Bexley, call us on 020 3045 4400 or you can complete the fostering information pack form.

Can I apply?

Almost anybody can apply to become a foster carer, as long as you meet the following basic criteria:

  • you're over 21 years old
  • you have a spare bedroom that's permanently available to a child
  • you have the legal right to live and work in the UK
  • you're passionate about making a life-changing difference to children in care

It doesn't matter if you're single, gay, married or straight, and we encourage applicants from all ethnic backgrounds to join our team. The children we care for come from all walks of life, and so we want a diverse community of foster carers to meet their needs.

Do I need any experience to become a foster carer?

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

Do I need to have any specific qualifications to become a foster carer?

No - you don't need any qualifications at all.

We'll provide you with an in-depth training programme which starts before you're approved and continues throughout your entire fostering career.

More information about training 

Am I too old to foster?

There's no maximum age to foster, so long as you are fit and healthy enough to meet the needs of children and young people.

Am I able to smoke / vape if I foster?

Yes, you can. However, you can't foster a child under the age of 5 years and you'll need to smoke outside, away from children.

Can I have pets in my home?

Yes - Animals can be very therapeutic.

We do have to make sure that pets have a suitable temperament to be around children and visitors in the home so that we can ensure the safety of the young people we place in your care. We would also check that your pet has had the appropriate immunisations.

Can I foster if I have a criminal record?

Fostering is still possible for many people with a criminal record unless your criminal record is for recent violence or against children.

We would need you to be open and honest with us from the start, and it will form part of the discussions in your assessment to become a foster carer.

If you have a criminal record and are unsure, you can speak to our team, who will answer any questions you may have without judgement.

Do I need to own my home in order to foster?

No, you don't need to own your house to foster.

If you rent either via a private landlord, housing association or council, we will contact them early in the assessment to ensure they are happy with their property being used for fostering.

It is advisable to talk to your landlord about your wishes.

Do I need to be able to drive?

Although it is helpful, it is not a necessity for you to be able to drive.

Being a foster carer involves taking children to school and appointments, which may not necessarily be close by. You may have to utilise public transport or use the support of friends and family who do drive.

If you do own/drive a car, you will need to ensure you have a full, valid UK driver’s licence with tax, MOT and business insurance.

I have children of my own, can I foster?

Yes, you can foster if you have your own children living at home. At Bexley, it is our belief that all children are an influential & important part of fostering as a family, from sharing their time and toys to being role models.

We would like you to have conversations with your children about your desire to foster and would ask for your children to be included as part of the assessment process.

I am single, can I still foster?

Fostering is open to individuals and couples regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. What matters most is that you are able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child.

Can I work and foster?

Yes, you can; at Bexley, we understand that fostering is a huge commitment, and for some, giving up work full-time just isn’t a viable option.

Providing you have the capacity and some flexibility within your current employment to care for a child, then we can find an arrangement that suits you to pursue your fostering journey.

Do foster carers pay tax?

While fostering allowances are taxable, HMRC has specialist tax rules for foster carers which means the income you receive from fostering will generally be completely tax-free.

As a foster carer, you will be required to complete your own self-assessment each year.

How long does the fostering assessment take?

The whole process, from start to finish takes approximately 6 months. You will meet with your assessing social worker on average 8 to 12 times. Timescales may vary depending on your personal circumstances.

What questions will I be asked throughout the assessment?

Throughout the assessment, your assessing social worker will ask you questions regarding your childhood, past and current relationships, your employment status and your ability to care for a child or young person.

We will also complete a home safety check, and ask you to complete some home study questions.

The aim of the assessment is for us to have a good understanding of you as a person so that we can identify your strengths and areas of support.

What checks will I consent to as part of the fostering assessment process?

As a service, we will complete checks in the following areas:

  • DBS (household members age 16+)
  • Personal references
  • Employers reference
  • Oxleas
  • Ofsted
  • Social Services
  • Local Authority
  • Medical

These checks will not be undertaken without your signed consent. These checks will form part of your assessment to become a foster carer.