How to Become a Foster Carer

Considering fostering a child or young person? Read our information guide which outlines the requirements, the process, and the benefits of becoming a foster carer and provides you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Foster carer with children

What is a Foster Carer/Parent?

A foster carer, or foster parent, is someone who provides support and care to a child or young person who is unable to live with their birth family. They are responsible for providing a safe and nurturing environment and helping the child or young person to reach their full potential.

Foster Carer or Foster Parent?

Foster parents and foster carers mean the same thing regarding the role of fostering a child or young person. Some prefer to use one term over the other, whilst others use a mix of the two, depending on personal preference. Both terms refer to the same role and have the same responsibilities.

What is the criteria for becoming a foster carer?

What is the Criteria for Becoming a Foster Carer?

To start the process of becoming a foster carer, you will need to meet certain basic criteria. The fostering provider you choose to start your application with will ask early on if you have the following:

  • A spare bedroom available for a child or young person within your home.
  • There is no upper age limit to being a foster carer but, you must be over the age of 21 years old.
  • Have British Citizenship or indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
  • You must be medically fit to work.
  • You must not have a criminal conviction for an offence against a child or a sexual offence.

Having a criminal record for any other offence does not necessarily stop you from becoming a foster carer. Your criminal convictions or cautions will be explored with you by the fostering provider.

You don’t need any qualifications to apply, but you should bring enthusiasm, empathy, respect for individuality and diversity and a willingness to learn and undertake training.

Is Fostering Paid?

Yes, fostering is considered a full-time career and foster carers are paid by their fostering provider.

The remuneration for fostering varies by provider, (Local Authorities in general pay less) and can range from anything between £350pw to over £1,000pw.  The exact amount will   depend on who you foster with and the type of placement you consider; children with enhanced/additional needs (such as children with disabilities or complex health needs), or fostering siblings will pay a higher fee. Foster carers also benefit from generous tax relief on their fostering income, with many foster carers receiving tax free payments.

How Much Can I Earn Fostering with Swiis?

Swiis recognises the important role foster carers play in the lives of the children and young people they foster and rewards them for their hard work and dedication. Below is a guide on how much you could earn if you foster with Swiis:

Is fostering paid?
One Child
Up to £520 /week
Swiis foster carer’s pay for one child in placement is the equivalent to £27,040. All of which is TAX FREE.
Enhanced One Child
Up to £847 /week
Swiis foster carer’s pay for an enhanced placement is equivalent to £44,044. £41,450 of this is TAX FREE for a child over 11 years old.
Two Siblings
Up to £833 /week
Swiis foster carers pay for two siblings is Equivalent to £43,316. All of which is TAX FREE.
Two Unrelated Children
Up to £1,006 /week
Swiis foster carer pay for 2 unrelated children is equivalent to £52,312. All of which is TAX FREE.
Parent and Child Placement
Up to £845 /week
Swiis foster carer’s pay for a Parent and Child placement is Equivalent to £10,140 per 12 weeks. All of which is TAX FREE*.
*this is based on the pay from Parent & Child Placements not exceeding £37,640 in any one tax year.

Swiis Welcome Support Payment

New Swiis foster carers benefit from a £1,000 Welcome Support Payment when they start their first fostering placement. This payment is to ensure you have everything you need to start your fostering journey.

*Terms & Conditions apply

Fostering with Swiis Foster Care

Swiis Foster Care is the UK’s largest, family-run, independent fostering provider with over 30 years of experience within the social care sector.

We are passionate about achieving the best possible outcomes for ‘children looked after’ as demonstrated by our exceptional retention rates and educational results, which are amongst the highest in foster care.

Our locations in the North West, Yorkshire, Midlands and South have all received Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ awards, with our North East location being awarded ‘Good’.

Call us today on 0333 577 1234 or fill out the form below to find out more about how much you could earn and the life-changing difference you could make to a child or young person.

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What Support and Training Will I Receive?

Foster carers will receive comprehensive training and support to develop the skills necessary to provide the best possible care to the children or young people within their care.

Once you have applied to foster, you will undertake the initial ‘Toolkit for Fostering’ training which commences immediately prior to, and during, your assessment process, in addition to a number of mandatory and specialist courses and webinars once you have been approved.

Swiis social workers are available to provide 24/7 ongoing support, along with a team of dedicated placement support workers, health, education and behavioural specialists.

The Process of Becoming a Foster Carer

Step 1 – Application Form

You complete an application form on our website and our team will get in contact with you to discuss your enquiry. The Swiis team arranges a telephone interview at a suitable time to gain further information about you, your circumstances, your family and your eligibility to foster.

Step 2 – Home Visit

Following on from a successful telephone interview, a member of the fostering team will visit you at home to undertake an Initial Home Visit. This is to ensure that your home and spare room are suitable for a fostered child or young person.

Step 3 – Introductory Training

If your home visit is successful, you will be invited to attend the Day 1 Introduction to Fostering training. The training will provide you with the information you need to understand your fostering role. Following this training, and if you wish to proceed to apply to foster, you will be asked to complete an application form to begin your fostering assessment.

Step 4 – Assessment & Background Checks

We will assign you a registered social worker who will carry out the assessment. The social worker will arrange a number of visits to your home and will want to speak to everyone who is living in the house where you will foster.

At the same time, you will undergo a number of background checks and we will request a number of references from people who know you. This is usually the longest step of the application process and requires participation from you and your family. During this time, you will also be required to attend a further 3 days of training.

The assessment can take between 4 to 6 months depending on the checks which need to be undertaken and your availability for assessment visits.  The assessment can progress at the pace you feel comfortable with and you should use this time to ensure that you ask as many questions as you wish.

Step 5 – Fostering Panel

Once completed, your fostering assessment will then be presented to the Fostering Panel. The foster carers will be required to attend in order to respond to questions from the Panel, your assessment social worker will attend the meeting with you for support and share information where necessary. The Fostering Panel will make a recommendation as to whether you should be approved as a foster carer. It is only on a rare occasion that the Fostering Panel declines or defers an application.

Step 6 – Approval

The Agency Decision Maker will then review all the information and make a final decision on whether you should be approved as a foster carer. Once you are officially approved, Swiis will create a ‘Family Book’ for you, which details interesting information about you and your family, including pictures of everyone in your household and where you live, so that children who are being considered to be placed with you, have the opportunity to know a little more about you and your family.

Local Authorities will be informed of your availability and the Swiis Placements Team will start the process of matching you with your first child or young person.

Types of Fostering Placements

There are various types of fostering placements available and depending on your family circumstances, the Swiis Placements Team will help you to decide what type is appropriate for you.  For more information, please visit our page on the types of fostering placements.

Why are short-term foster placements needed?


Looking after a child or young person on a short-term basis from anywhere between a few days to weeks or months, before they move on to their next step.


When a child or young person cannot return to their birth family and adoption isn’t suitable, they may enter into long-term foster care that can last several years.


Respite or ‘short break’ placements, are to provide relief to the foster carer or birth family. These typically last from one night to up to a week.


Keeping children and young people together is extremely important. With a sibling fostering placement, two or more children are placed with a foster carer in order to keep them together.

Additional or Enhanced Needs

Children requiring foster care with additional or enhanced suppot include those with complex medical needs or physical or learning disabilities, such as ASDs (autistic spectrum disorders), and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  Children with high levels of complex and challenging behaviour may also require this type of placement.

Parent and Child

In a parent and child foster placement, you can give young parents support and guidance during their child’s early weeks, and months.


When a child urgently needs a foster home, an emergency foster placement is required. Depending on the circumstances, the stay may last a night, a week, or even longer.

What is it Like to Foster?

What is it like to foster with Swiis Foster Care? Hear what our amazing foster carers have to say about their fostering experience with Swiis.