Welcome to The Foster Care Agency! Give us a call on 0808 178 8909 or register your interest here

Ask us as many questions as you like


There is a clear process to follow to transfer from your current fostering agency to The Foster Care Agency, and any foster carer has every right to do so. The quickest way to find out the best route for you is to call us on 0808 1788909 so we can guide you through it.
The process can vary slightly depending on who you’re with now and whether or not you have any foster children staying with you.
If you do have a foster child staying with you at the moment, our first priority will be to make sure the transfer doesn’t disrupt their care. There will be a meeting with you, your current provider and the child’s social worker to agree the arrangements and start our assessment stage.
If you don’t have a foster child staying with you at the moment, the move to assessment stage can happen very quickly.
For more detailed information about the transfer process, read our protocol document.
For advice about making the change as smooth as possible, give us a ring on 0808 1788909 or request a callback. We’re always happy to offer you all the information you require.

Most people can become foster carers, however, there are various areas to consider.
Your age, cultural background, marital status or disability should not play a part in determining whether you’re suitable. You need to be available to fulfil the role, or have a partner you can share this responsibility with and you need to have a spare bedroom for your foster child.
Other things we consider include:

  • Your legal and personal references
  • Your eligibility to work in the UK
  • Your health background and family lifestyle
  • Your parenting skills and/or experience of caring for children
  • Your ability to provide a nurturing environment

Most of all you need to have love to give, the patience to work through difficulties and the dedication to invest lots of time and energy.

Our application process is broken up into three stages: application, initial visit, and fostering assessment and you are supported throughout the process.


You can apply to start your journey in one of three ways.

  • Register online using the button at the bottom of this page
  • Request a callback using the form at the bottom of this page
  • Call us up for a chat on 0808 1788909

We’ll send you an information booklet to take you to the next stage.

Initial Visit:

Once you’ve applied, our carer recruitment officer will give you a call to go through an initial enquiry, following on from that an initial visit to your home will be arranged. This visit is carried out by a supervising social worker and you will have a chance to ask further information and discuss your options and details related to the process of application and the fostering role.

Fostering Assessment:

A report will be completed by the supervising social worker following the initial visit and a decision will be made on whether to proceed to assessment by the management team. You will be kept informed throughout the decision process. It’s up to them to give you the go-ahead and start the fostering assessment process, which includes background checks and training courses.
This stage tends to take a few months, but the satisfaction of changing lives is well worth the journey. Some applicants found the process very positive.

From start to finish, it usually takes around four months. This includes background checks, assessments and training courses. We’ll always do our best to process your application as swiftly as possible, but please be aware that it can sometimes take up to six months before you’re assigned your first placement.

To make sure foster care is for you, we work together to take a thorough look at your life and your family. The process takes a few months to complete and you’ll have a dedicated supervising social worker to support you every step of the way.

Initial background checks

To begin with, we’ll need your permission to perform background checks (paid for by us) on you and your family, including:

  • Criminal checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service
  • Medical checks with your GP
  • Background checks with local authorities
  • Suitability checks with three referees (non-family members) provided by you

Home visits

An experienced qualified social worker will arrange to visit you and your family on a regular basis throughout your assessment period. You’ll get to know each other quite closely as he or she collects all the information you need for your assessment report. Together, you’ll work out what types of fostering fit your lifestyle best and what types of foster child you will be most helpful to.

Training sessions

As you progress with your assessment, we’ll provide you with training to prepare you for life as a foster carer. Starting with our ‘Skills to Foster’ course, you’ll learn about the fostering process, meet an experienced foster carer and meet local people who are also undergoing the assessment process.

Further training is also available if you want to specialise in helping foster children who have more specific needs.

Panel decision

At the end of the assessment process the social worker will produce a report which is shared with you before being presented The Foster Care Agency’s independent panel. You’ll be invited to attend the panel and, if all goes to plan, they will make a recommendation to approve your application.

After successfully going through the assessment process, our referral coordinators will begin looking for a suitable child or young person to be placed with you. When they find a match, this is discussed with your social worker and yourself and if there is agreement to go ahead, your details are sent onto the child’s Local Authority. From there, it could go a number of ways. You might have an introduction visit to meet with your potential foster child first, or they may be brought to you immediately, depending on the urgency required.

Not necessarily. There are a few factors that come into play when considering any criminal convictions you may have, including the type or circumstance of the offence and how long ago it was committed. Any violent crimes and offences against children or vulnerable people are likely to prevent you from being approved.
During the early stages of your assessment we’ll work with the Disclosure and Barring Service to check your criminal records. If you’d like some advice before applying, get in touch with a carer recruitment officer to discuss it in more detail.

There are many reasons why children and young people need to be looked after by foster carers, and every single case is different. The myth that families are always at fault and foster children are always difficult is untrue. Some people just need more help than others (and we can give you all the skills you need to give them that help).
As varied as the reasons for needing care are, there are three broad categories that most placements fit into:

Periods of instability

Some families unfortunately go through periods of instability due to difficult circumstances and need time apart to find a solution. Common factors include things like medical conditions, family breakdowns, learning difficulties, substance dependencies and depression.

Harm from family members

A home life where there is domestic abuse is sometimes the reason for a child or young person to need a foster family. In these instances, parents may have failed to meet the basic needs of their child, caused them harm or exposed them to inappropriate behavior or risk.
Abuse falls into five main groups: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic violence. These can all have long-lasting effects on children, so foster children may need extra special care and attention.

Special needs

The parents of children with special needs occasionally need foster carers to take over so they can take a break. Looking after these children can be challenging and draining on a full-time basis, so respite care lets parents recover for a weekend, a couple of weeks or the duration of the school holidays.
Special needs include learning disabilities, specific medical needs, severe disabilities and challenging behavior. Carers are offered the support and training they require to gain the skills, knowledge and ability to cater for those needs.

As with most aspects of foster care, the specifics depend on each individual case. We’ll always share as much information about your potential foster child as possible, but sometimes we may only have basic details. This is often the case in emergency situations, where children or young people have to be placed very quickly.
In any case, our team will work as quickly as they can to piece everything together. And you will always be the one who decides whether to take a child in or not. We won’t ever force you into a situation where you feel pressured or obligated.

Yes. Before you start caring for anyone, we agree on the types of children who would be best placed with you and your family.
Throughout the fostering assessment process, we’ll work with you to identify your strengths and figure out where your hard work will be the most helpful. And if you’re interested in working with children who have specific needs, we’ll offer you the right support and training.
We want you and your foster children to have the best possible quality of life. There will be discussions about which ages, genders, ethnicities and religions would fit best with your family before a child is placed.

As with everyone else, foster children behave differently depending on their age, development and experiences. Whereas some might settle quickly, others may act out as the result of experiencing trauma. Some might be used to the fostering process, but others may still be coming to terms with being separated from their families and friends.
In cases where children or young people are overcoming difficult experiences, they often have complex feelings they find difficult to express. This could result in destructive behaviours such as lying, stealing and self-harm, or other difficulties including loss of sleep, eating disorders and general withdrawal from society.
Your love and perseverance can help foster children in ways that are hard to imagine. By showing them they are cared about, combined with the support of a professional team, great improvements can be made, no matter how severe their initial behaviours are.

There are various types of foster placement that last for different lengths of time, and we will take your views on board in regards to which types you’d like to take on. Usually, the exact length of their stay will be unknown, but they tend to fit into the following categories.

Short term foster care

A child will stay with you for anything from a few days to a couple of years while local authorities make plans for their future.

Respite care

If parents need a short break, you’ll look after their child for up to a few weeks. This is often the case when the child has special needs or behavioral difficulties that can get stressful or exhausting over long periods.

Remand fostering

Young people who find their way into the criminal justice system are sometimes, at short notice, placed with a foster family instead of being held in custody. The supportive family environment can significantly reduce the probability that they’ll re offend again.

Long term foster care

Sometimes, children need to live away from their birth family permanently but don’t want or it is not appropriate for them to be adopted, so they might stay with you until they’re adults.

Emergency foster care

When a child needs a safe place to stay at short notice, they’ll be placed with you for a few days and nights.

Fostering for adoption

If you’re thinking about adopting a baby or young child, they’ll stay with you for a trial period. If all goes well, they could be a member of your family for life.

Parent and child fostering

These placements happen when parents occasionally need extra help to develop their parenting skills and forge strong bonds with their child. This can last from twelve weeks to a few months.

Short term foster care usually lasts a few weeks or months, but it can sometimes last up to two years. During this time, Local Authorities will be busy making plans for your foster child’s future.
Every Local Authority has a legal responsibility to reunite children with their families wherever possible, so you’ll be expected to help the children maintain contact while they’re with you.

Long term foster care usually lasts until your foster child has reached adulthood and can look after themselves. Being with you for such a long time means they become a firm member of your family, so you’ll probably stay in touch for the rest of your lives.
Placements on this scale are only a solution when children or young people are unable to return to their family for one reason or another. Generally speaking, only older children go into long term care, as younger children are often adopted.

Fostering is definitely a family affair, and everyone you live with should be committed to be involved in the fostering that you provide. This means it’s your whole family who will be assessed when you apply, and it’s your whole family who can feel the benefit of changing a life for the better.
Of course, the dynamic in your home will change with the addition of another person who has their own likes and dislikes. You’ll need to adapt routines and incorporate the needs of the individual you care for, which can be daunting at first. But you’ll always have help from your supervising social worker, other carers, local support groups and wider network.
During the assessment process we’ll help you understand the potential changes you may need to make, and give you plenty of advice and guidance to make it a positive experience. Fostering is an incredibly rewarding career and a worthwhile decision that makes a significant difference, so your family should be excited to be getting involved.

There’s always the possibility that, from time to time, your children and foster children will have a clash of personality. They might disagree, become possessive or just dislike each other. But this shouldn’t be seen as a huge problem. After all, siblings can fall out just as easily.
If you do find yourself in this situation, we will be there to help you. (Over time, you’ll find yourself becoming quite fluent in finding practical solutions.) And, if in doubt, there’s always your supervising social worker and support groups to turn to, who are there for your children as well as you and your foster children.

We encourage you to give your foster children the opportunities to experience as much as possible. And going on holiday is a great way for them to feel part of your family.
The decision as to whether your foster child is allowed to go ultimately rests with their social worker. But it’s rare for them to turn down the offer as it’s usually such a beneficial experience for someone in care.

After investing your time and energy into helping a foster child through a difficult time, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss them when they leave. More often than not, they’ll have gone through significant changes for the better and you’ll feel proud to have been a part of it. Most of our foster carers remain in contact with their foster children after they move on, depending on the circumstances.
As ever, you’re not alone in going through anything fostering-related. Your supporting social worker, peer groups and The Foster Care Agency support network will always be by your side.

When you work with us, you never need to feel like you’re on your own. You’ll always be supported by a team that includes professionally qualified supervising social workers, trained mentors, local peer-to-peer groups and more.

In addition to your support network, we’ll give you:

  • 24-hour phone support and advice by social workers
  • A monthly visit minimum and weekly catch-up calls
  • Ongoing training and development opportunities
  • Financial aid for you and your foster child
  • Membership to the Foster Talk support network
  • Legal protection insurance
  • Regular foster care news and information

We’re all in this together. So, if there’s ever anything else you feel you need, to give your foster family a safe, secure and enjoyable life, don’t hesitate to share that with us.

The UK government updates the minimum allowance rates for fostering each April, with different amounts for different ages and needs. We offer a generous allowance above those national rates. Please call us for specific details of what allowance you would receive.
Just so you know, this amount is only paid when you have a child in your care, not when you are between placements.

Your allowance covers food, clothing, travel, activities, savings and anything else your foster children may need. We give you a far greater allowance than the minimum amount set by the UK government, so you shouldn’t ever have to struggle and should always be able to give your foster child what they need.
Seeing as every child and young person is different, we’ll also give you guidance on what your allowance should be spent on. This will take into consideration any specific needs they have to maintain a healthy and balanced life. It should also leave enough to help with household related expenses.

Generally not. Income tax exemption for foster carers, introduced by the UK government in 2003, means you don’t need to pay tax on the first £10,000 your household makes in any year (the amount is less for shorter periods).
On top of that, you’ll get additional tax relief of up to £250 a week for every week a child is in your care. To work out what this adds up to for you, follow the simple guide on the government’s website.
For the purpose of calculating tax, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) treat foster carers as self-employed. This means you’ll have to fill out annual tax return forms, which you can find guidance for on this page of the government’s website. You can also call HMRC to request a copy – ask for an IR 236 help-sheet.

Yes. The UK government requires that you register as self-employed when you become a foster carer. This means you also need to register to pay National Insurance contributions.
If you’d like extra information or some help setting up, call the Newly Self-Employed Hotline on 0300 200 3504. You can call them from 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday, or from 8am to 4pm on Saturday. They’re closed on Sunday and bank holidays.

Potentially. Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits (if you have a child of your own) depend on quite a few variables, including how often you work, how old you are and how much your household income comes to. This means that every case is different, so it’s best to contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for an assessment.
You can call them on 0345 300 3900. They’re open from 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday, and 8am to 4pm on Saturday. They’re closed on Sunday and bank holidays.

Your eligibility to claim benefits depends on your individual circumstances, so we can’t give you a simple yes or no answer. However, there are some general trends that you might find useful.
If your benefits come from a local council, voluntary organisation, or a private organisation on behalf of the local council, fostering allowances shouldn’t affect your benefits.
If you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, or Employment and Support Allowance, fostering allowances could affect your benefits.
The best way to find out how you’re affected is to contact your local JobCentre Plus. You can find the phone number you need on the JobCentre Plus contact page. Alternatively, seek specialist advice from an advisory agency such the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.