About fostering

Fostering is looking after children and young people who have been taken into care, in your home, making them feel a part of your family. Most of the time it is a temporary arrangement, while we work with the child's family to resolve the issues which led to them needing to be looked after by another family. 

Some children are sadly unable to return to their birth families, so they may be adopted or placed with a foster family until they are 18 years old.

Read more about the different types of fostering we provide.

Why foster carers are needed

Often there is more than one reason why a child needs to go into foster care. Common reasons include:

  • A temporary crisis in the family
  • Parents struggling to cope
  • Issues of neglect or abuse

Fostering provides a safe environment for children to be protected from abuse, neglect or lack of parenting without them losing the benefits of being part of a family.

What a foster carer does

In essence, foster carers provide a stable and nurturing home, ensuring that a child's physical, emotional and educational needs are met. Your role will vary according to the child's background and situation, including what they have been through in life.

A young child will need lots of practical, hands-on care, with babies needing full time supervision. A teenager on the other hand will benefit from more guidance and support to develop their confidence and nurture their independence skills.

What a child has experienced before coming into care is likely to have caused changes to their behaviour and even their appearance, and may have had an impact on their emotional development. This can be challenging for anyone looking after them. Foster carers who are resilient and patient will be able to help children work through their fears and anxieties and will see the rewards of them thriving and achieving their full potential.

Fostering can be demanding, and not everyone is well suited to it. However, it can also be one of the most worthwhile and life-changing things you do.

We will support you and you will be part of a professional team supporting the child in your care on their journey.

Could you become a foster carer?

We welcome people from all backgrounds into our foster care team. You can apply:

  • If you are over 21
  • Whatever your ethnicity, religion or sexuality
  • If you are single, married or living with a partner
  • Whether you own your own home or live in stable rented accommodation
  • If you are working or not (if caring for children up to 4 years, you or your partner if you have one need to be at home on a full time basis)
  • Regardless of whether you have any children of your own
  • If you have a disability (we can discuss with you the impact of this on caring for a child and support you appropriately)

You will need to be fit enough to cope with the daily demands of looking after a child. This might mean taking them to school, on day trips or holidays. 

It takes some special skills to be a great foster carer:

  • Good sense of humour and personal warmth
  • Strong sense of integrity and a good listener
  • Energetic and resilient, with patience to spare
  • Open minded and flexible
  • Able to prioritise and put the child's needs before your own
  • Strong communication skills and keen to learn and improve over time, seeking and providing constructive feedback
  • A good team player

If you see yourself in these descriptions, get in touch with us!

What we will expect from you

We will expect you to be honest, open and transparent during the assessment process, when you will be asked questions about your household, background and history. This will help us build a profile of you to make the best possible placement matches.

Following approval we will need you to:

  • Share all significant observations about the children in your care with us, articulating in detail any issues affecting them
  • Be an advocate for the child
  • Take the child to contact their birth family as advised by the Social Services team
  • Be mindful of confidentiality requirements to protect the children in your care
  • Have a good understanding of your local community and how to access resources
  • Work in partnership with your supervising social worker and other professionals
  • Participate in training sessions and knowledge sharing groups
  • Creatively engage with children and think outside the box
  • Treat children in your care as part of your family

Tips from CLICK, our Children Living in Care Kouncil

We believe that children should be empowered and their voices heard. CLICK is a group of young people aged 13 to 18 who are looked after by Wandsworth Council. They represent and speak up on behalf of looked after children and young people to make a difference, positively influence decision making and shape the services they receive. Here are their 12 top tips for how foster carers can 'be there' for them:

  1. Every single child or young person that comes into your home may be scared (wouldn't you be?). Their fear will empty out in many different ways
  2. Help us understand what is happening and why decisions are made
  3. Be warm and kind as that always shines through. Smile. Because those who don't smile back need it the most
  4. Get to know us; not our files. Build a relationship with us
  5. See things through - don't give up on us. Give guidance and encouragement and have faith in us
  6. Teach us and show us how to do things. Don't expect us to know
  7. Have time for us. Listen and support our emotional needs. There are always reasons for our behaviours. It's about finding out about them
  8. Treat us as if we are your own. That includes rewards, punishments and consequences
  9. Help us with our identity and respect our individuality, including culture, learning needs, family etc
  10. Defend us. Don't get angry. Explain and hear both sides to a story
  11. Be prepared to wear many hats. You will be many things... a carer... a nurse... a friend...  a coach... a teacher... a therapist
  12. Provide a loving home and do things all together, like meal times and family trips. If possible, provide a long term placement