Frequently Asked Questions

About fostering

What is fostering?

Sometimes, because of a family illness, a family breakdown or problems at home, a young person will come into the care of the local authority where they live. That local authority then looks for a placement for the young person that is most appropriate for the child. In doing so, they’ll turn to foster parents within their own fostering service or with a fostering provider like ACS.

What is the process of becoming a foster parent?

To become a foster parent, the first step is to get in touch with us. We'll have a chat with you first, then visit you at home before starting an assessment. The whole process takes 4 - 6 months.

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What is the difference between fostering and adoption?

When you foster a child, you are caring for them but they are not legally part of your family, which when you adopt you become a child's legal guardian.

Do I get any breaks or holidays while fostering?

Yes, all of our foster parents can receive 14 days paid respite, not all of our families take this in which case they receive the respite payment in their weekly fostering allowance.

What kind of support will I receive?

As an Outstanding fostering agency, we’re committed to offering you all the support you need to succeed – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a foster parent, you have a vital role in helping looked-after children achieve their full potential. We believe that by passing on our knowledge and experience to you, you’ll be able to make an even bigger difference to the lives of the children in your care. Cultural-specific training is at the core of what we do. We assist foster parents in learning new skills and working to improving their specialist knowledge.

Will I receive training about different faiths and ethnicities?

Yes, cultural-specific training is at the core of what we do. We assist foster parents in learning new skills and working to improving their specialist knowledge, so they are able to care for the children and young people they look after as well as possible, even if that child is of a different faith or ethnicity.

Our foster parents are encouraged to attend specialist training and support groups where they can develop their knowledge of different faiths and religions, and share cultural insights.

Our faith-based training programme to equip foster parents with the skills necessary to support children with a wide variety of cultural and religious needs.

The training we provide teaches foster parents how to respond to the individual needs of foster children from vastly different backgrounds, who will all have a unique set of needs.

What is faith-based fostering?

As a faith-based fostering agency, we put cultural diversity at the heart of our services. An increasing number of children and young people coming into care are from multi-faith communities – and there is a lack of placements available to meet their specific needs. That’s where we come in!

About us

What type of company is ACS?

Active Care Solutions is a faith based fostering agency. We are independent to the local authority and we work with many local authorities to help them find the right faith and ethnic match for a child in need of foster care.

What is the difference between a fostering agency and the local authority?

Unlike a local authority which has a wide range of social responsibility, fostering is all we do. Therefore we can put all of our efforts into supporting our fostering families, to help children have the best possible experience of foster care, and help them on their way to successful adulthoods.

Why foster with an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA)?

Because all we focus on is fostering, we are here to support our foster parents, so as an organisation all of our focus is ensuring our foster parents have the right support, to help them to support the children in their care. Because of this, we are specialist and as such this has led to Ofsted rating our service as Outstanding.

How does ACS differ from other fostering agencies?

Well, ACS does follow the same model as most fostering agencies, but what makes us stand apart is our commitment to placing children and young people from culturally diverse backgrounds with foster parents who can cater to their unique needs, either through having similar backgrounds or through relevant training.

Who can foster?

Who can apply to become a foster parent?

Just about anyone! It takes skills that can’t be taught – like patience, compassion, empathy and being able to put a child’s needs before your own. There are, however, some practical considerations. 

Do I need any experience to become a foster parent?

You’ll need to be able to offer the young person or persons in your care the security and continuity they need – as well as supporting their specific religious and cultural needs. You’ll need to provide with them a stable, nurturing family home. You don’t need any qualifications necessarily, but some experience in looking after children can be helpful, but not essential. This could be your own children, within your extended family, or in a childcare setting. Perhaps you were brought up in care yourself and understand what it is like. Just ask one our friendly team members if you’re not sure, they are always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Fostering isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding. And with our 24/7 package of training and support, we’re here for you every step of the way.

Are there any criteria I have to meet?

In order to foster, you must be over 21 years old, have a spare bedroom and have time in your life to dedicate to a child who need it.

Do I need any special qualifications to foster?

Special qualifications are not needed as we will give you all the support and training you need.

Why does a foster child need their own bedroom? Can’t they share with my own children?

A spare room is really important when you foster.

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How old do I have to be to become a foster carer?

You must be at least 21 years old.

Am I too old to foster?

There is no upper age limit when you foster. As long as you feel fit and active enough to look after children, you'll be able to foster whatever you age. Many people start fostering later in life, when their own children have left home, due to the need for a spare bedroom.

Can pensioners become foster parents too?

Yes they can, there is no upper age limit for foster parents. As long as you are fit and healthy you can foster.

Can I foster if I have kids?

Yes you can as long as you have a spare bedroom as a foster child can't share a room with your own birth children. We match children to families very carefully, so if you have your own birth children we will ensure there needs are looked after too, this can affect the number of children we can match your family too.

Do I need to own my own home to foster?

No you don't. If you rent your home, we will need your landlords consent, which we will request during the application process. It can be wise to talk to your landlord early in your consideration process so they are aware that you are considering fostering.

Can I foster if I'm single?

Yes you can. We have many single foster parents, both males as well as females.

Do I have to be married to foster?

No you don't. If you are applying as an unmarried couple we will ask you questions about the length of your relationship and how long you have lived together. If your relationship is new, we will ask you to wait before applying.

Can I foster if I'm gay?

Yes you can. People from the LGBTQ community are very welcome to become foster parents.

I’m disabled – can I still foster?

In many cases, yes. We want to ensure that fostering won't negatively affect your health, which we will do during the assessment process. But many people with disabilities successfully foster every day.

Can people from all religious groups become foster parents?

Yes, as a faith based fostering service we welcome applicants from all faiths and ethnicities.

I have a criminal record, does this mean I can’t foster?

Any applicant will need to disclose any criminal record and checks are made with the Disclosure and Barring Service. However, having a criminal record doesn't automatically rule you out. It really depends on the seriousness of the offense and how long ago it was. Every case is different, so it's best to talk to us about this openly so we can advise you as soon in the process as possible. If you have a criminal offence against children, you will not be able to apply to foster.

Can you foster if you have pets?

Yes you can, in fact pets can make a great addition to a fostering household for many children. Although having pets will be a matching consideration, for example for a child with allergies or if a child is frightened or can be mean to animals.

I can't drive, does this mean I can’t foster?

Being able to drive is a big advantage, children often need to be transported to school and contact and as a foster parent you must attend training and meetings. If you live in an area with excellent transport links you may be able to foster without having your own transport, but for most foster parents a car is a necessity.

I'm a smoker, can I still become a foster parent?

You can foster if you smoke, but only children over the age of 5 years. You must also only smoke outside, even though it's your own home.

Can I foster if I take antidepressants/have depression/have had depression?

In many cases, yes. Mental health is as individual as you are and no one size fits all. All applicants under take a medical with their own GP and they will advise if they believe the impact of fostering would cause you harm. Our first priority is to ensure your own health. If people have taken antidepressants in the past or their health is stable because of their continued use, it is usually fine to foster.

Do I need to speak more than one language as a faith-based foster parent?

Not necessarily – but it would help. As long as you have an understanding of customs and beliefs other than your own, or are open to other cultures, we will offer the support and training you’ll need to become a faith-based foster parent.

Application process

What do I need to become a foster parent?

You’ll need to be able to offer the young person or persons in your care the security and continuity they need – as well as supporting their specific religious and cultural needs. You’ll need to provide with them a stable, nurturing family home. You don’t need any qualifications necessarily, but some experience in looking after children –your own children, within your extended family, or in a childcare setting. Perhaps you were brought up in care yourself and understand what it is like. Just ask one our friendly team members if you’re not sure, they are always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Fostering isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding. And with our 24/7 package of training and support, we’re here for you every step of the way.

What does the application process involve?

The application process involves us carrying out a number of checks and references, you can find out more detail about the individual checks we carry out here. Alongside the checks you will also undertake a home study, called a 'Form F' with a qualified social worker, from this the social worker will write an in depth report which will be taken to our fostering panel for consideration. The process takes between 4 - 6 months during which time you will also undertake preparation training, to help you prepare for your role as a foster parent.

How long does the fostering application take?

There are six stages to becoming a foster carer and, depending on your circumstances, the process can take five months or less. As a small agency, we’re there for you at every stage of the fostering journey – from the minute you pick up the phone to chat to us to the day you’re approved as an ACS foster parent – and throughout your fostering career with us.

Does it cost me money to apply?

Usually not. We cover the cost of your checks, medical and training. The only check we ask applicants to cover themselves is a police check if they have lived in another country outside of the UK as an adult. Every applicant will have a health and safety check undertaken on their home, if anything needs to be changed you will be responsible for this. For example, if you have a garden pond, you will need to purchase safety netting for it.

Can I apply to be a foster parent online?

Yes you can. To make an enquiry to foster will us you can do so online here. Following a home visit we will send you a link to complete your application form online too.

If I’m going to be the main foster parent, do you need to carry out checks on my partner as well?

Yes. If you are a couple applying to foster, you both must complete the application form, undertake all the checks and the assessment will involve you both equally.

What training will I receive to be able to foster?

You will be invited to attend 'Skills to Foster' training, you must complete this course, usually 3 days before we can take your assessment to panel. Once approved we will also provide you with an induction to help you get to know ACS more fully, help you to know what you need to do as a foster parent and help you to learn our procedures and systems. We are there to help you every step of the way as a new foster parent and beyond.

What if I'm already a foster parent and wish to transfer?

We welcome experienced foster parents to ACS. Many people transfer to us, as they wish to foster with a faith based agency, that understands and respects their culture and traditions.

Find out more

Are foster parents self-employed?

Yes, as a foster parent you are classed as self employed, as such you'll need to return a tax return and pay National Insurance contributions. All of our foster parents have membership of Foster Talk, who can provide help and assistant if required.

Will I be employed by ACS?

No, as a foster parent, you are classed as self employed. Although legally you can only be approved by one agency, you are not an employee.

Transfer to us

I’m already a foster carer, how do I transfer to ACS?

If you are interested in finding out more about fostering with ACS, the first thing to do is to give us a call. 0800 917 7937

How long is the process for transferring?

Transferring usually takes approximately 4 months. It can be longer due to circumstances involving any children in your care.

Do I have to complete a new Form F assessment?

Yes, a Form F assessment belongs to the agency that conducted it and is not transferrable, so a new one is needed every time yo transfer agencies. However, having been through the process before, it can be quicker to do a second time.

Am I able to transfer with my current child in placement?

In some cases yes. If you wish to transfer a protocol meeting will be held, between the children's local authority, your current fostering provider and ourselves to ensure the children's needs are fully considered as part of the transfer. Occasionally it may be considered at this meeting that a move in agencies would not be in a child's best interest. In which case you'll need to wait until that placement reaches a natural or planned end before you can transfer.

Finance

Does a foster parent get paid for fostering?

Yes, our foster parents receive a fostering allowance of £393 per week per child for a young person aged over 10 years.

What does the fostering allowance cover?

The allowance covers the cost of looking after a child including food, clothing, utilities and activities.

Do foster carers pay tax?

Foster parents are eligible for tax, but many pay not tax at all. Find out more about how this works.

Do foster parents need to complete a tax return?

Yes, as a foster parent you are self employed and will need to complete a tax return each year, even if you won't be eligible to pay tax.

Will I be paid in between fostering placements?

No, foster parents are not paid when they do not have a child living with them.

Do foster parents need to keep receipts for all expenses?

This isn't necessary. HMRC have made it as easy as they can for foster parents to complete their tax return, but using their foster carer tax allowance, you do not need to keep a record of all of your fostering expenses.

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Can I still go out to work if I become a foster carer?

Yes you can, but many of our foster parents foster full time. This is because as a foster parent you need to be available to a child when they need you. Foster children have often missed out on parental time and need more one to one time because of this. Also as a foster parent you'll need to attend training and meetings as well as being able to do the school run. If you have flexibility in your role you may be able to work and foster, but if you can't drop everything to be their for a child, for example if they were poorly - you may find it easier to foster full time.

Do foster parents receive child benefits?

Foster parents are able to receive child benefit for their own child, but not any foster children - this is because you are paid a fostering allowance instead.

Can I claim benefits while fostering?

Foster parents are able to claim means tested benefits or non-contributory benefits which include Carer Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit and Housing / Council Tax Benefit. Your fostering allowance isn't classed as income for these benefits, so if your receiving them before starting to foster, it is likely that would would still be able to claim them once fostering.

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Foster children

What types of children need fostering?

There are many different children that need foster care, from babies to teenagers from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds. We offer different types of fostering placements to meet the needs of these children and young people, who are commonly in foster care because of abuse or neglect. As an independent fostering agency, we often find that the children we place with our own foster parents are slightly older and we have a lot of requests for teenagers.

Will foster children have difficult behaviour?

Many of the children we care for have suffered trauma in their young lives due to abuse, neglect or witnessing domestic violence. Children can find it very difficult to regulate and express their emotions so instead this can come out in their behaviour. Children maybe angry and become aggressive, or can be just the opposite and be very withdrawn. Every young person is different and will behave differently. It's also worth noting that not every child presents with difficult behaviour and all of our foster parents experience these challenges differently too. What can be difficult to manage for one family will be much easier for another, which is why matching is so important to us. We provide all of our fostering families with training, to help them understand the reasons for certain types of behaviour and how to manage it. By far the most rewarding part of being a foster parent is seeing the changes a child or young person makes whilst in your care.

How long will I have to wait for my first placement?

This really depends on you and your family. The more open you are to a wide range of children the shorter time you will wait. Some families have children placed within a few days others can wait a few weeks or more depending on circumstance. We will always ensure the match between a family and a child is right, rather than rushing this process. As a new foster parent it's also important to us, that we do all we can to ensure a successful start to your fostering career.

Can I choose which age range or gender I would prefer to foster?

Yes you can. All of our foster parents are able to choose to take a child into their home or not. We will provide you with advice to help you, but the choice is yours. Sometimes our foster families choose a child of a given age to ensure their birth child's place in the family is maintained for example, your eldest remains the eldest in the family. However, most of our foster parents are as open to a wide range of ages and all genders to ensure consistent fostering placements.

Can I choose the ethnicity of the child I foster?

Yes you can. As a faith and ethnicity based fostering agency, we aim to place children with families from the same cultural and ethnic background. Sometimes this isn't possible but instead we identify foster parents who can meet the young person's needs with our support and training.

How does the matching process work?

We receive far more referrals for children from local authorities than we have fostering families with vacancies. In order to match a child to a family, we look at a number of things including location, age range and gender. We also look at the cultural needs of a child and a families own make up and experience. We request as much information from the local authority about the child they are looking to place, so we know as much about them as possible to ensure our foster parents can meet their needs.

How much will I know about the child or young person before the placement starts?

We will let you know everything that we know about a child prior to them coming to live with you, so you can decide if the match is right for you too, we will advise you, but the decision is always yours. At the start of every placement a meeting will take place, which is also your opportunity to ask as many questions as you need.

Will I be able to meet the child before the placement begins?

Ideally this is always best, but it isn't always possible as foster homes can be sought for children in an emergency, which doesn't allow time for introductions.

Can I foster more than one child?

Yes you can. Foster parents can foster up to 3 foster placements. This can be more than 3 children one placement was a sibling group. How many children you foster often depends on your bedroom capacity as well as your ability to care for more than one child. Foster children need a bedroom of their own, the only exception to this is same sex siblings, which can share a room if the room is large enough for two.

How long do fostering placements last?

Foster placements are as individual as the children themselves. Some placements can last a few weeks, but usually several months or years. We offer a range of placements types and you can choose which is right for you. Most foster carers choose to do a variety of placement types and during an assessment we will discuss these with you and consider which would be best for you and your family.

Can I choose how long I want a child or young person to stay with me?

How long a child stays with you depends on the plan for the child. Some children will return home or go on to adoption, others will stay in long term foster care. It's really important to us, that our foster parents give children stability whilst in their care. Many children have experienced multiple foster homes, and we will support you to make a commitment to a child for as long as they need it.

Can I choose the kind of fostering placement I have?

Yes you can. When we receive a referral for a child which we think would be a good match to you and your family, we'll call you and discuss it. We'll give you all the information about a child that we have and offer advice, but the final decision about whether you'd like to be put forward to the local authority for that child is yours. Children need a stable, caring home environment where they feel wanted, that starts right away, with your ability to turn down a referral if it isn't right for you.

What types of foster placements are available?

We offer a wide range of placement types, from placements lasting for weeks to years as well as more specialist fostering placements including parent and child, or sanctuary seeking placements.

Find out more

Do I get any extra help if I care for a child who has special needs or a disability?

In some cases yes. If a child has more complex needs you can receive additional fostering allowance for this. Not every disabled child qualifies for additional allowance but we will always make this very clear to you when discussing a child in need of foster care with you.

Who is responsible for taking foster children to school or the doctors?

As a foster parent it will be your responsibility to transport children to school and to all medical appointments. A child is unlikely to go to the school nearest you and you may have to transport a child across town or to another town to get to school.

Can a foster child share a bedroom?

No, a foster child must have a room of their own for many different reasons. The only exception to this is if you are fostering same sex siblings. We also don't recruit foster parents for babies alone, so if you wish to foster baby, who would share your room, ACS wouldn't be the right fostering agency for you.

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Why do children need foster care?

Children need foster care for a variety of reasons. But they all share one common theme, they are in foster care to keep them safe. The most common reason a child comes into care is due to neglect, but children who have suffered abuse both physical and sexual is unfortunately common. Some children need care because of illness or death of a parent, and some children need care because their parents are struggling and need help and time. Every child who comes into care has experiences some form of trauma or loss and will need your help to heal.

What are foster children like?

Foster children are just like any other child. Some may be struggling to deal with issues from the past, but all children need fun, humor, routine and to feel cared for and wanted.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

By Phone

One of our team is available to talk to you over the phone to answer any of your fostering queries.

0800 917 7937

Visit an office

Active Care Solutions, Pure Office, Broadwell Rd, Oldbury, B69 4BY