All too often, people disqualify themselves from making big changes in their lives. Sometimes it’s down to fear of change, and sometimes its because of false beliefs or misinformation about why something is not possible.
Fostering has the potential to increase the quality of your life whilst also making a huge difference to the lives of children and young people, but it’s a huge decision so it’s easy to make assumptions and disqualify yourself unnecessarily. These assumptions may have been preventing you from looking into what fostering is all about and what it involves. Here, we consider the top fostering myths, and bust them wide open. Some of them may surprise you!
I'm too old
Brighton & Hove City Council has no upper age limit. If you are in good health, mentally and physically, all you need is the drive and energy to make a commitment and a difference.
I don't live in central Brighton or Hove
You do not need to live in central Brighton or Hove to foster with us. We welcome Foster Carers from within a 25 miles radius of the city and have growing communities in areas such as Worthing, Lancing, Burgess Hill, Peacehaven, Hurstpierpoint and Lewes
I’d have to give up work and I don’t want to
Many assume that becoming a Foster Carer means giving up employment but this is not the case at all. It’s true that foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, but depending on your circumstances, you can sometimes foster and continue to work flexible hours; it just may make a difference to the type of fostering that you can do. Visit our Working and Fostering page for more information or read our interview with foster carers Darren and Fiona, who work full time and foster school age children.
I rent my home so wouldn’t be accepted
Lots of people think that in order to be approved as a Foster Carer, you must own your own home, but in fact your home can be rented or council owned. The only requirement is that you have a spare room.
I can’t afford to foster, it’s for volunteers isn’t it?
We often come across people who think Foster Carers care for young people on a voluntary basis but this is not the case. As a Foster Carer you make a huge difference to the children and young people you care for, allowing them to go on to have a safer and happier future and this is recognised through a two-part weekly payment; a professional fee and a day to day living allowance for the child. Find out more about Foster Carer payments
Fostering will have a negative impact on my birth children
Its OK to feel worried about the potential impact fostering will have, but many of our Sons and Daughters find that fostering has been a positive and rewarding experience. Hannah (12) and Louis (16) have been fostering with their mum and dad for seven years. Read about their experience
You have to be married or living together to foster
There are lots of fantastic single Foster Carers in our community and your marital status is not a factor in whether or not you will be approved. As a Foster Carer, you are part of a larger team who will support you every step of the way, so you will never feel alone.
You can still foster a child if you are claiming benefits or in-between work. You will need to prove that you are not dependant on fostering as an income and financially stable enough to support yourself through periods when you may not have a child in placement but ultimately what matters is that you can provide a stable and caring environment for a child or young person.
I wouldn’t get the support I need
As a Foster Carer you would never be expected to know all the answers... you will never feel alone and we will be there to support you every step of the way, whether that's through support groups, wellbeing workshops, our fantastic team of Fostering Support Officers, a Foster Carer 'buddy' or our 25/7 support line. Find out more about the support we offer
Foster Carers live in big detached houses, my flat wouldn’t be suitable
The type of building you live in is irrelevant, as long as you have a spare bedroom and it is suitable for a child, the size of your house should not be a barrier to fostering. We will assess your home as part of the assessment process and may make precautionary suggestions to improve safety if necessary, but there is no requirement for your home to be a particular type
I’m not perfect enough to be a Foster Carer, I’ve had some ups and downs in life
We're not looking for perfection. Brighton & Hove City Council don’t expect any person, any couple, or any family to be perfect. The role of a Foster Carer is to provide a stable source of support, so life experience, insight and fortitude can often be a great asset. Foster Carers need moral strength and toughness of spirit not a flawless past.
As a Foster Carer I wouldn’t be able to practice my faith
Your religion will not be a barrier to becoming a foster carer with us, but you will be expected to show how you can support children of a different faith or those of no faith. The important thing is that you are able to respect a child’s beliefs if they are different to yours.
I don’t have the right qualifications or experience to be a Foster Carer
You do not have to have any specific qualifications to become a Foster Carer as we offer a comprehensive training programme, including a three-day ‘Skills to Foster’ course. This training, and other mandatory training will take place as part of your assessment, and once you are approved there will be ongoing opportunities to widen your skill set through additional training. Some childcare experience would be helpful, but it’s not essential. We’ll work with you to help you identify your transferable skills and offer you the training and support you need to prepare for your fostering journey. Find out more about the training we offer
If I become a Foster Carer, I’ll have to give up everything I enjoy doing
It’s true that the role of a Foster Carer can be challenging and demanding as well as incredibly rewarding, but we understand the impact it can have and will speak with you about how to ensure a healthy balanced lifestyle, which would include spending time doing things you enjoy. In addition, we place a huge amount of importance on well-being, and run regular well-being activities as part of our commitment to look after our carers so that they in turn can look after our young people.
I’m not a parent so I don’t have the childcare experience
It’s true that you will need some childcare experience to foster, but this does not have to have been gained through parenthood. To gain the childcare experience required, you need to understand how it feels to be fully responsible for a child overnight and on a regular basis. Not having birth children does not mean that you don’t have all the necessary mental, physical, and emotional qualities necessary to foster.
Fostering is the same whether it is through the Local Authority or an independent agency
Fostering for a Local Authority and fostering for an agency is not the same thing; there are a number of key differences. The first is that Local Authorities will, where possible, place children, with their own Foster Carers first. We only look further afield (to a private agency) when we have explored every possible solution to meeting the child or children’s needs from within our own team. This means that our Foster Carers are most likely to get regular placements within their preferred age range, and as we all work within the Council, our team are able to provide them with a wraparound service and high level of support and commitment. The second key difference is that most Independent Fostering Agencies are run for profit by private equity investors. As a local authority, we are not-for-profit; meaning that above all else, it’s the children who benefit from what we do. Find out more about why you should foster with us
I’d have to give up my pets
A pet in your home will certainly not stop you from fostering, in fact animals can often be a source of comfort for children and a therapeutic distraction. However, every animal is different and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer. For Foster Carer Daniel and his partner Mark, dogs have always been part of their fostering family and they play a valuable role in helping to settle the children they care for, as well as introducing them to boundaries, routine and responsibility. Read their story
You’re not looking for someone like me
There are so many stereotypes out there about what makes a ‘typical’ Foster Carer, however we can assure you that your age, sexuality, gender, race, religion or background doesn't matter to us, or to a vulnerable child in need. A safe, stable and loving home environment is what matters and we need our carers to reflect the diversity of our young people. If you have the desire to make a difference, we want to hear from you regardless of the type of shoes you fill.
The assessment will take too long and be too invasive
The assessment will vary from person to person but on average, it can take around 6-8 months. We know that the decision to become a Foster Carer requires a lot of time and thought and you will need to think carefully about the potential impact that fostering will have on your life, as well as the life of your family. For this reason, we progress your application at a pace that is comfortable for you, and we ensure you are continually supported and guided by our experienced, dedicated team. Our aim is to get to know you and your family really well during the course of the assessment, to ensure that our children will be placed with the most suitable foster family.
I wouldn’t get a say in the age of the child or young person I’d be caring for
Our Foster Carers can choose to specialise in a particular age group; for example, babies, pre-school children, school-age children, teenagers, or young adults leaving care and preparing for independent living (Supported Lodgings). We would discuss the options with you during your assessment to determine what will work for you and your family.
I’m too young
Brighton & Hove City Council have a lower age limit of 21 and we would LOVE to see our budding community of young carers grow. We can 'buddy' you up with Foster Carers of a similar age as you progress through your assessment and we often find that a smaller age gap between carer and young person can create a more trusting and open channel of communication.
I wouldn’t get a say in the duration of a placement
You absolutely do not have to commit to a placement beyond what is possible for you and you family. Not all fostering is long-term; a foster placement can range from a few days or weeks, to months, years or permanence. It’s important to explore which type of fostering will be most suited to you and your family, and you will be supported to make this judgment as you progress through the assessment process. The most common types of placement are short term fostering, long term fostering, short break (respite) care, parent and child placements, emergency overnight care and Supported Lodgings.
Fostering will be too hard
It’s true that life as a Foster Carer can be challenging, but our Foster Carers continually tell us that the rewards far outweigh the demands. Our Foster Carers change the lives of the children and young people they care for in a profound and lasting way. Brows our articles and visit our Fostering Stories page
These are just a few of the most common fostering myths, but there are many more out there that are simply not true.
Above all, vulnerable children and young people need homes where they will feel safe, valued, and loved so we are flexible and responsive to the realities of life. We urge people not to count themselves out of fostering based on a misconception of who can be a Foster Carer.