Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you are thinking of becoming a foster carer you may have many questions, therefore we have put together the answers to some of the most common questions potential foster carers ask us about.

If you can’t find the answer you are looking for or you prefer to talk to us, please give us a call on 0208 263 6260 and our team will be happy to help. 

Fostering is a way of providing a stable family life for children and young people who are unable to live with their parents or other relatives. Fostering is rewarding but also challenging at the same time. It takes time, patience and commitment to foster.

Fostering differs from adoption. The main difference is that with adoption you become a child’s legal parent permanently, whilst fostering is usually temporary, until a child returns to their family.

Children come into care for a whole range of reasons, including a family members illness, drug or alcohol misuse, domestic violence between parents or financial deprivation. Some children may have been abused or neglected. Others such as Asylum-seeking children may have experienced persecution for their beliefs, or because of their ethnic or social group.  Foster care gives families a chance to sort out their problems by providing the child or children with a home and supporting the family for as long as they need.

Shining Stars is an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA). We work closely with local authorities (LAs) to find suitable foster placements for looked after children they are unable to place with their own approved foster carers.

This is usual because the LA is facing a shortage of foster carers or the child has certain needs and requires a specialist placement.

It would be helpful, but it is not essential. Our foster carers come from all backgrounds and not everyone has experience of working in childcare.

We will work with you to help you and offer you the training and support you need to prepare for your fostering journey.

As a general rule, service providers like foster carers to be over 21 years old. There is no upper age as long as you have the energy to get involved in the more active bit of fostering, such as the school run or taking part in outdoor activities, you can foster. We have foster carer who are continuing well into their 70s.

You do not have to be rich or well off to foster children. Fostering is an amazing and rewarding thing to do for children and young people, but it is not charity. As an approved foster carer you would be receiving a fostering allowance, which covers the extra household and general costs of having a child or a young person living with you, any additional expenses involved in their care and rewards your work as a professional foster carer. Foster carers get tax relief on the allowance they get from fostering, and their benefits will usually not be affected.

This is even great as you have got valuable parenting experience! Many people look after their own children and foster at the same time, and in fact research has shown there can be enormous benefits for both the fostered children and the birth children if you do. When people with their own children decide to foster, the whole family become part of the fostering process, and your children will be invited to share their thoughts and give their input, in age-appropriate ways of course. We will take extra care at the matching stage to ensure that the young people that come to live with are a good fit for all your family. As long as you have room in your home and in your life for another child, of course you can still foster even if your own children are still at home.

Foster carers do not need to own their own home. Whether you have a mortgage, or are a private or council tenant makes no difference to your ability to give a young person a safe, secure and loving place to call home. As long as you have enough room in your home to be able to give each young person their own bedroom, and as long as you can offer a safe and secure home environment for young people then you can foster. If you are renting a property permission from the owner will be obtained during the assessment process.

Single Men can be foster carers too! Many men foster, and in fact the unique value of male carers is only now becoming more widely recognised. When a man fosters, he is able to present positive male role models for both male and female foster children. This can have a restorative and therapeutic effect on many fostered children whose fathers may have been absent or abusive.

You don’t have to be married to foster. You don’t even have to be part of a couple! Single people can and do make great foster carers. To us it’s not your marital status that is important but your ability and skills to meet a child or young person’s needs.

You do not have to be heterosexual to foster. Gay and lesbian couples can foster too. Much like your marital status, your sexual orientation is not important to us when we are determining your ability to provide a safe home and sensitive care to a fostered young person. Every young person in need of foster care is different, with their own story and challenges, so there needs to be diversity among the foster carer community too. Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or asexual doesn’t matter, it’s the life experiences you can bring to the role of foster carer that can help you to help the young people who live with you that’s what counts.

Depending on your circumstances you can sometimes foster and continue to work. It might just make a difference to the type of fostering that you can do. Obviously very young children, or young people needing special care, will require someone to be there with them all day. If you are part of a couple of course only one of the carers need be at home, so the other can work. Or you could look to foster older, school-age children and combine your work outside of the home with their care. Many people manage to successfully combine a job with their responsibilities as a foster carer, and if this is what you want to do you should not let it prevent you from applying to foster.

Want to know if you can foster?

Find out if you meet the criteria to become one of our foster carers.

We are recruiting Foster Carers

We are currently recruiting foster carers across all the London Boroughs and the surrounding counties. Please go through the website and contact us to register an interest in fostering.

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SSFA has a range Policies and Procedures concerning Social Work Practice, HR and Finance which are used to guide staff and for tendering and commissioning purposes.  If any of the issues that are not covered please do contact your supervising social worker or our registered manager who will guide you to the appropriate policy.  Shining Stars Fostering Agency Tri-X policies