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Can I foster?

Mixed race family walking in the woods

All kinds of people become foster carers. It doesn’t matter if you are retired, have a job or have a family of your own. The most important thing is that you can provide the professional commitment and stable home that a child needs to thrive in your care. 

You can foster if you: 

  • are from the UK or have indefinite leave to remain  
  • are over the age of 21 
  • have a spare bedroom 

We look for foster carers who are committed to providing trauma-informed care and creating the best outcomes for children. We help you develop skills and techniques which support children to overcome trauma, neglect or loss. 

To make sure children get the best care possible, foster carers should: 

  • have some experience of being around children or young people, either at home or work 
  • be able to support a child who may have suffered from trauma, neglect or loss  
  • be resilient, patient and empathetic 
  • be available to care for a child before and after school and during the school holidays 
  • have the professionalism to work with us as part of the child’s care team which includes social workers and birth parents 
  • have a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, you won’t be able to care for a child under five or with respiratory problems
  • provide a safe and loving home which can help children heal from past experiences. 

We need people from different backgrounds and with different experiences to match with the needs of children in Essex.  

It doesn’t matter if you: 

  • are single, married or living with a partner  
  • have children of your own of any age  
  • work or are retired 
  • identify as LGBTQ+ 
  • can’t drive, as long as you have access to public transport 
  • have pets 
  • live in rented accommodation (you’ll need to inform your landlord that you’re fostering) 
  • have disabilities or impairments 
  • don't have any qualifications, as we provide all the training you’ll need. 

Fostering with a young family

You can foster if you have a family of your own, no matter what age your children are. Lots of families find it very rewarding to bring another child into their home and many foster children thrive when they live alongside other children. 

Danielle Carter has a 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. She talks about the positive impact of fostering on her family in this video. 

Jess, Dan and their young daughter Rachel talk about the difference fostering has made to their family and the support available for Rachel.

Fostering as an older person

There is no upper age limit to becoming a foster carer. We have lots of carers who are in their 70s and find fostering very rewarding. 

Some older foster carers hold a part-time job alongside fostering, while others choose to foster once they have retired. Many foster carers value the choice between offering full-time care or occasional respite care. 

Debbie and Vic Finch say fostering is the best thing they've ever done. In this video, they talk about how they have the time and patience to foster children now they are in their 60s. 

Fostering as an LGBTQ+ person or same-sex couple

We welcome anyone from the LGBTQ+ community to become a foster carer, whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or another sexual identity. Your commitment to caring for a child and looking after their well-being is all that matters. 

Find out more

To find out more about your eligibility to foster, call our 24-hour fostering recruitment team on 0800 801 530, mail us on adoptionandfostering@essex.gov.uk, or come to a local fostering information event.

Next: The different types of fostering >

or to talk to our friendly recruitment team call 0800 801 530



"We felt we could provide a caring family and a happy family environment." — Karen and Darren, foster carers.

 

“Anyone can foster. Never think that you are too old. We’re in our 60s and we thoroughly enjoy it.” Debbie and Vic, foster carers.

 

“Fostering has had such a positive impact on our family. Our children have really benefited from it.” Daniella, foster carer.

 

“My foster parents didn’t give up on me like I feel my parents did. They stuck with me through the hard times and the good.” Rebecca, Care leaver

 

“It is like having your own kids. You’re there to pick them up. You’re there to help them. You’re there to guide them. It’s an amazing journey.” Ian, foster carer since 2007