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Questions about the application process

If you want to find out how to foster a child in the North East, you're in the right place. We know how important it is to be informed about the foster care journey so you can feel as prepared as possible when you do decide to apply. We've brought together some of the most common questions about how to become a foster carer. Here are the most frequently asked questions about becoming a foster carer.

What do you need to become a foster carer?

Every child and young person is different. To find the right home in the right place at the right time for:

  • Babies
  • Toddlers
  • Children
  • Young people
  • Teenagers
  • Sibling groups

We need foster carers across the North East from diverse backgrounds and with different circumstances. 

There are very few barriers to becoming a foster carer but you do need to meet certain eligibility criteria to apply. To become an approved foster carer anywhere in the UK you must also go through a process of assessment and checks.


Am I eligible to become a foster carer?

To be eligible to be a foster carer, along with the energy and desire to change the lives of children and young people:

  • You must be over the age of 18 to be a foster carer though most foster service providers will require you to be at least 21
  • You need a spare furnished bedroom to foster a child over 2 or young person, which is not used by anyone else. Some of our partners recruit foster carers specifically for children under 2 years old where a spare room is not always required. This will be discussed during your Initial Visit
  • You must have the right to live and work in the UK

If you have specific questions about your circumstances and your suitability for fostering, please contact us or call for a no-pressure chat.  The foster carer Hub team at our regional hub can provide more detailed or situation specific answers.


How long does it take to be approved as a foster carer?

Waiting to hear about big decisions can be tense. We want everyone to know the outcome of their application as soon as possible.  We aim for all prospective foster carers applications to complete at panel stage within 24 weeks or less. 

During this process, the Foster with North East team will be on hand to answer your questions and offer support, so you know what to expect and when. For foster carers transferring to work with Foster with North East partners the approval process can often move more quickly. For transferring foster carers, it can take as little as 24 weeks to be assessed and approved.


What is the application process?

Whether you're brand new to foster care or a current foster carer considering a transfer to a Foster with North East partner, the very first step of your fostering journey is to get in touch for a no-commitment chat. You can meet us at one of our fostering events, register your interest and we'll get in touch or call us on 0800 917 7771.

As an information and support hub for local authority foster care providers across the North East region, we are able to guide you through the initial application process in your area. Some partners may approach the order of the steps involved in becoming an approved foster carer differently. But each and every local authority will require you to pass checks and a two-stage assessment, as required by UK government regulations.

You can read more about the foster carer approval process in the North East and find an application form to register your interest on our foster care application process page.


What questions will I be asked?

The foster carer application process is all about getting to know you and your motivations for fostering. You'll be asked questions to see if fostering is right for you and your family and to assess your potential to meet the needs of different children or types of fostering. The questions you are asked will explore the personal history, background and circumstances of you and family. They can feel intrusive at times but are necessary to form a full picture and inform the next steps. 

Examples of questions you may be asked during the foster carer assessment process:

·        What was your childhood like?

·        How do you and your partner (if relevant) support one another?

·        How do any children living with you or other members of your family feel about you fostering?


Why do I need to be assessed?

It's our job to find safe, stable and loving homes for children and young people across the North East region. We need to find the right home for the right child and we focus on building trusting relationships with foster carers.To do this, we get to know you well. The fostering assessment explores your skills, circumstances and personal qualities and includes checks and stages of assessment that are mandatory in the UK.


Is there an upper age limit to fostering?

No. There's no upper age limit to become a foster carer. What's important is that you're committed to helping children and young people and able to give them support and care. Many foster carers come to fostering in their later years when they have more time to commit. If this sounds like you, you'll need to be in good health and have the energy to meet the needs of children who will stay with you. At Foster with North East, we know how valuable life experience can be when it comes to tackling the challenges of fostering.


What is the difference between adoption and fostering?

Fostering and adoption can both involve caring for a child on a long-term basis but there are some big differences between adopting and fostering a child or young person.

  • Legal permanence  - in long-term fostering, a child or young person may stay with you until adulthood or beyond. But in adoption, the child legally becomes part of your family.
  • Legal responsibility - in fostering, the legal responsibility for a child usually rests with their birth parents and/or the local authority. In adoption, you take on full legal responsibility for the child. 



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