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Can I foster?

Mixed race family walking in the woods

All kinds of people become ECC foster parents. They come from different backgrounds and nationalities and have varied skills, experiences and interests. We welcome such diversity as it helps us to make good matches with the many types of children, with very different needs, that we care for.

You can:

  • be single, married or living with a partner
  • have children of your own or have none. If you do have children they can be of any age, from toddlers to adults, and live at home or elsewhere
  • be of any nationality or faith
  • be of any sexual orientation
  • have disabilities, as long as they don’t prevent you from caring for a child
  • work – but you will need to have a flexible employer. If you work full time, you might want to consider a less-intensive commitment, such as providing short weekend breaks for children with disabilities
  • be in rented accommodation – but you will need to tell your landlord you will be fostering
  • have a pet, as long as it is friendly
  • choose your level of commitment; some foster carers work full-time, others just offer occasional respite care

You don’t have to:

  • have any specific qualifications. We will provide you with bespoke, high-quality training to give you the skills you need – and support your continuing development
  • be able to drive, if you have good local public transport links or family members who can drive that will transport you
  • have been born in the UK, as long as you have leave to remain here

Must-haves

To create the best chances of a successful placement – for foster children and carers – you must:

  • be interested in young people and genuinely want to care for one
  • have a spare bedroom for each foster child over two
  • be above 21. There is no upper age limit. Some of our foster carers are in their 70s
  • have some experience of children or young people although, as mentioned above, you don’t need to have your own
  • be able to care for a child before and after school. And to have time to go to daytime training and support groups, meet with social workers, and be there during school holidays or when your foster child is ill
  • have a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, you will not be able to care for a child under five, or one with respiratory problems
  • be willing to work with us as part of the child care team, which will include birth parents and social workers
  • have a safe and loving home, where everyone wants the placement to succeed
  • have energy, patience and empathy

Find out more:

We hope this page helps you decide whether you could be a foster parent. Inevitably, some questions can’t be answered with a quick yes or no but will involve us having deeper conversations.

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.

What is fostering?

Fostering involves giving one or more children a home while their own family can’t care for them. It can be just for a few days or weeks, or until they grow up. Foster parents share responsibility for the children they care for with ECC and their birth parents.

To find out more about what it takes, meet our foster parents.

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