Got questions about fostering? Below are some of the questions which people often ask us about fostering and being a foster carer.

Got more questions? Please get in touch!


What is fostering?

The purpose of foster care is to provide a safe and stable environment for children who cannot be looked after by their own families. Fostered children stay with their foster carers until their own families are able to look after them, which can vary from a few days or until they are 18 and over depending on the needs of the child.

Why do children go into fostering?

There are lots of reasons why children go into foster care. Sometimes they have been abused or neglected by their parents, or other times their parents have an illness which means they need to be looked after on a short-term basis. We exist to support the children in these situations.

What is adoption and how is this different to fostering?

When a child is adopted their legal relationship with their birth parents ends and all responsibilities for them are transferred to their adoptive parents. When a child is fostered, however, their birth family carry on being their legal guardians. Foster parents receive extra support which adoptive parents don't, such as financial allowances, on-going training, and 24/7 support from social workers.

What are foster care agencies?

Foster care agencies, such as Parallel Parents, are private companies that work in partnership with Local Authorities in order to place children and young people with foster carers.

Why choose Parallel Parents instead of a Local Authority?

Parallel Parents offer foster carers better personal support than Local Authorities are able to because our social workers have fewer foster carers to support. We also provide better financial allowances (up to £500 per week per child you look after), give our foster carers paid holidays and breaks, and train our foster carers regularly.

What are foster care allowances?

Foster care allowances are given to foster carers in order to practically help them care for the children they look after – and reward them for their hard work. If you foster with Parallel Parents you can receive up to £500 per week, per child you look after. This is usually tax-free and doesn't affect any benefits you already receive.

Does a criminal record prevent me from being a foster carer?

Having a criminal record does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a foster carer – it depends what your convictions relate to and how recently they have taken place. Each case is individually looked at when you apply.

Do I need to be able to drive?

Just like any child, fostered children need to be taken to school, go on outings and visit their family and friends. Being able to drive makes all this a lot easier, but if you cannot drive fostering is still open to you as long as you have good access to public transport.

What checks are carried out for me to become a foster carer?

When you apply to be a foster carer you will have a criminal record check and a medical assessment. We'll also request a check from your Local Authority and will get references from your friends, family and employer.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

It usually takes about six months to become a foster carer. Once you have been approved you could have your first placement the next day but it's more likely that you'll wait a few weeks for the right child for you and your family. For more information on the process of becoming a foster carer get in touch.

Can I foster if I'm not originally from the UK?

If you're a non-EU citizen you need to have indefinite leave to remain in the UK in order to become a foster carer. If you have lived in the UK for less than five years we also need to complete criminal record checks and other background checks from your previous countries of residence during that time.


Can I foster if I already have children?

Yes, you can foster whether you have children or not as long as you have a spare bedroom. If your children still live with you at home then we will make sure any children you foster fit well with your family and your circumstances.

Can I still work if I foster?

When you become a foster carer the children you look after will be your first priority but, as long as your job is flexible, working alongside fostering is fine.

Can I choose how long fostered children stay with me?

Yes. When you are asked to look after a child you will be told approximately how long they will need to be fostered. This can be anything from a few days to a few years. There are lots of different types of placements which vary in length, such as short term, long term, respite and emergency.

Can I choose the age and gender of the children I foster?

Yes you can - we want the children you foster to fit in with your family situation so the child's age, gender and character are all taken into consideration. The emotional age of some fostered children doesn't reflect their biological age, so it's good to be flexible about these things too.

How much will I know about the child before they are placed with me?

We like to be open with our foster carers so will give you as much information as possible about the child you might be looking after, including any behavioural or emotional difficulties which they may have. We always do as much as we can to ensure that the child will fit in well with your circumstances, and you will be continually supported whilst they are with you.

Do foster children have contact with their birth parents?

Children go into foster care for all sorts of reasons – sometimes because they have been abused or neglected and other times because their parents have a short-term illness. Therefore, wherever it is appropriate, fostered children meet up with their birth family during scheduled visits.