There’s much more to fostering than having a child to stay overnight or domestic tasks like preparing meals and washing clothes.

Being able to work well with us and other professionals is an essential part of the role. Every foster carer has their own supervising social worker, who is part of our team and every looked after child has their own social worker from another team. There will be regular meetings with these social workers as well as others, such as teachers and doctors or other health care professionals. Depending on the circumstances, you are also likely to have frequent meetings with the child’s birth parents and other family members and friends to support the child’s contact with them.

You’ll be expected to feed and clothe a child, help them understand the need for making healthy eating choices and taking exercise as well as giving guidance on personal presentation and looking after themselves.

Encouraging a child with their school and homework is a key fostering task. You may be expected to attend meetings at the school including parents’ evenings.

It’s also important that a looked after child has access to sports and activities and you may find yourself researching where they can take part in a favourite hobby or providing lifts to the sports centre after school.

One of the most important roles for any foster carer is to be a good listener and to have the time to sit down with a child when they want to talk.

Who can foster?

Just like children, foster carers come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds and all walks of life. They are ordinary people who like children, have a genuine interest in their welfare and have the time and space to look after them.

Check-list for fostering

  • Single, married, gay or lesbian
  • Some experience of looking after children
  • You have a strong partnership or family and friends
  • Any cultural background
  • Over 18 but there is no upper age limit
  • Stable accommodation
  • Good health. If you have a disability you can still foster if it does not prevent the caring tasks from being carried out
  • Have a good understanding of the English language and are able to read and write
  • Be able to use email and the internet, or be prepared to undertake basic IT training
  • Be willing to attend ongoing fostering training
  • Agree to a full criminal records check

The kind of person you are is the most important thing about being a foster carer.Here is a list of some of the qualities we look for:

  • You like children and enjoy their company
  • You are able to accept children from other cultural backgrounds to your own
  • You can be non-judgmental about a child’s birth parents and why a child is in care
  • You understand that it may take time for a child to respond to you and may not show thanks
  • You could accept or deal with an angry or distressed child
  • You can accept that your house may become messy
  • You have a sense of humour
  • You can accept that a foster child is not your own and will someday move on

Thinking about fostering?

Listen to our foster carer’s talk about why they decided to apply to become a foster carer with Torbay’s Fostering Team.

Thinking about fostering?
A guide to being a foster carer in Torbay.