If you are interested in fostering but not sure where to start, it’s best to find out as much as possible about the children, the role and the commitment involved. Then you will need to find an agency that’s right for you and willing to “assess” you as a foster carer.

Doing some research

The first step is to find out as much as possible about the needs of children who come into foster care and what fostering services are looking for in carers. You need to be sure that fostering is right for you and have a sense of what type of fostering you would be most suited to.

Do some reading - we produce a number of books that should help you with fact-finding:

It also helps to speak to other foster carers as well as experts. Many fostering services organise information and recruitment sessions which you can attend.

Choosing a fostering service

There are two main types of fostering service:

  • Local authorities (in England, Scotland and Wales) and Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland, which look after children and young people in care as their corporate parent, and assess, train and approve foster carers to care for them.
  • Independent fostering providers (IFPs) which also recruit and train foster carers to care for children who are looked after by local authorities/Health and Social Care Trusts. IFPs can either run on a profit-making basis or a not-for-profit basis, sometimes with charitable status.

Your fostering service will be there to assess, train and support you as well as provide a financial package, so it is important that you find the one that feels right for you. For example, you may want to feel that you are contributing to your local community so your local authority would be your first choice fostering service. Alternatively you may want to foster for a service that specialises in a particular need such as placing children with physical disabilities.

The Fostering Network provides a useful directory of fostering services throughout the UK.

For more information on fostering services, visit the Fostering Network's website.


Read on to find out how to become a foster carer.