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Who can foster

We welcome enquiries from people of all religions, races, genders and sexuality. Our foster carers reflect a wide range of circumstances and life experience – for example, you may be married, single, in a relationship, divorced, widowed, employed or unemployed – we assess every application on an individual basis.

Do I need any special qualifications to foster?

No you don't. We will talk to you at the start of the process about the skills and experience you have to offer, and what you will need to provide. We prepare all our potential foster carers for what is involved in fostering, and offer a full range of support and advice when you become an approved carer.
You will need to genuinely enjoy the challenges of childcare, and it helps to have qualities such as patience, resourcefulness, flexibility and a sense of humour! There is no such thing as a typical foster carer - everybody has something to bring in terms of experience and knowledge. We have also introduced a payment for skills model that helps to identify what skills and competencies you need to start fostering, and at what level.

Do I need to have a particular type of accommodation?

You will need to have enough space so that the child or children you foster can have their own bedroom. You may own your own home, rent from the local authority or rent privately - what is more important is that you are able to offer space for a fostered child which meets their needs. We cannot take applications from people with one bedroom accommodation.

Can I apply if I live outside of Leeds?

Yes!. We do need foster carers to be based in the general locality, particularly those children who need short-term support. However, we would still like to hear from you if you live within a 20 mile radius of Leeds city centre which includes many of our bordering towns and cities.
For more advice, please contact us.

How old do I need to be?

You need to be at least 21 years old to be a foster carer. Those aged between 21 and 25 years old need to be able to demonstrate 'transferable experience'. We do not have an upper age limit, although it would be unusual to accept applications from people who are well into retirement age.

For friendly advice and support you can call us on: 0113 247 7443

Frequently asked questions

What checks are needed if I apply to foster?

As part of the application process we will ask for your consent to take up Criminal Record Bureau and other required checks. If a conviction is disclosed, we will need to discuss this with you. Certain convictions, such as offences against children and offences of violence, will prevent us proceeding with an application. If you have any questions about this, please contact us.

We will also need to check your health and will ask to undertake a routine medical through your GP. We only do this once we have agreed to start your assessment. If there are any health issues that could affect an ability to foster, we will discuss this with you.

What support can I expect as a foster carer?

All our approved foster carers receive a full range of support, including training, skills recognition and regular involvement in city-wide foster carer support groups. You will be supported by a supervising fostering officer, often the same worker who has built up a relationship with you in the preparation and assessment stage. You can find more information on the support we offer you on our Support for carers page.

What is the payment for skills model?

We have introduced a new payment for skills model which rewards your skills and experience. The model has four levels, with allowances and fees for each one. You can enter at any level as long as you have the skills required.

When you register your interest and apply to foster with us, a fostering officer will discuss payment for skills with you in detail and advise how your interest, skills and experience can be best matched to a particular level.

As a guideline:

Level 1 foster carer(s): Have limited amount of experience in childcare, either personally or professionally.

Level 2 foster carer(s): Have experience of childcare either personally and/or professionally. Examples include having own children or experience working with children. 

Level 3 foster carer(s): Have significant childcare experience and willing to care for more challenging child(ren).

Level 4 foster carer(s): Have significant childcare experience and willing to care for the most challenging child(ren) with complex needs.

Can I still have a career/maintain my work commitments and be a foster carer?

Yes you can, however looking after any child may mean changing your work patterns, reducing your working hours or choosing to completely give up.

The level 1 and 2 primary (main) foster carer can work up to full-time hours.

The level 3 primary (main) foster carer can work up to 20 hours per week.

The level 4 primary (main) foster carer can not work outside fostering.

Level 1,2 and 3 foster carers' working commitments must be flexible enough to fit in with the routines of a child such as:

  • School drop offs and pick up
  • School holidays (approximately 12 weeks per year)
  • Childhood illnesses
  • Attending social services meetings and fostering training

If you are thinking of reducing your working hours to foster, you may want to speak with your current employer before contacting us to see if this is possible.

(The main or primary foster carer applies if you are in a couple)

What is involved in assessment and preparation?

We need to work together with you to find out what you have to offer, build on your existing skills and knowledge, and prepare you for fostering.

Our colleagues will visit you at home on a regular basis and together we will provide a report and portfolio for a fostering panel to consider your application.

If you have older children, they will be included in the preparation process too.

You will have an opportunity to attend a preparation course called 'The Skills to Foster' which is run by our colleagues and experienced foster carers.

Meeting with foster carers during the preparation process can be an invaluable way of finding out more about fostering and the issues involved.

You will be offered a link to an experienced foster carer and can receive mentoring support following your approval.