Fostering FAQ

To help you find the answers to all your fostering-related questions, we have created a comprehensive FAQ list. If you would like to know more or have additional questions about becoming a Brent foster carer, just get in touch with us. Call us at 0800 001 4041 or email fostering@brent.gov.uk

Application and assessment 

Training and support

Family and lifestyle

Foster carer’s responsibilities


How long does it take to become a foster parent?

On average, it takes between four to six months to become a foster parent. The process starts with your enquiry, which is followed by a chat with one of our social workers and an invitation to attend a fostering information evening. If following the information evening you think that you are ready to foster, we will organise a home visit, which gives us the opportunity to start to get to know you, your skills and where you live. A decision will then be made regarding moving to stage one of the assessment process.

Briefly, during the first stage of assessment, we aim to find out more about you and your family, and we will carry various checks including a DBS (police) check, a medical check and employment checks. At this stage, you also have to attend a few days of training where you will learn more about fostering. Once you have completed stage one, you can move to stage two of the assessment process.

Find out more about the second stage of the fostering assessment process.

What types of fostering are there?

At Brent there are two main types of foster care: short-term and long-term fostering.

Short-term fostering ranges from providing overnight care to looking after a child for several days, weeks or even a couple of years. It all depends on the needs of the child.

Long-term fostering is a permanent arrangement and usually lasts until the child is 18 years old or ready to live independently. Find out more about the types of foster care.

If you apply to join Brent Fostering, you will be approved to look after children between the ages of 0 and 18, but you will be able to choose a preferred age group based on your skills and experience. The period you will be caring for a child depends on their situation, this is why being open and flexible is important.

How to become a foster parent?

To become a foster parent you first need to find out more about fostering and if it is right for you. You can either attend a fostering information evening or contact us. We also recommend that you explore our pages starting with 'About fostering'.

If you want to proceed with the application once you have done your research, we will organise a visit to your home. Following the home visit, we will make a decision about starting your assessment. You can read in detail about the fostering assessment process here.

How to become a foster carer for babies?

There is a standard process to become a Brent foster carer, whether you prefer to foster babies or older children. If you apply to join us, you will be approved to look after children between the ages of 0 and 18, but you will be able to choose a preferred age group based on your skills and experience. Read about how you can become a Brent foster carer.

If you wish to be a baby carer, you need to have space in your bedroom for a cot, be available 24/7 and have the right skills, motivation and patience to care for babies. Find out what it is like to foster babies from Sam, our Brent foster parent for young children.

Will I get paid for looking after a child?

You will receive a fostering allowance that covers the child’s needs like food, clothing, activities, etc. The rates vary depending on the age of the children and if they have additional needs. The rates we offer at Brent are higher than the minimum rates recommended by the Government

We will also make specific one-off payments for special occasions throughout the year like birthdays, holidays and festivals.

For your effort and contribution, as a Brent foster carer you will receive a fee.

Will I get any support and training?

Initially, during your application and assessment, you will receive information and personalised support from us. When you become a foster carer, you get access to extensive training and to bespoke support from your allocated supervising social worker. In addition to advice and training, as a Brent foster carer you will enjoy a host of other benefits.

Do I have to be married?

To become a Brent foster carer you can be married, single or in a same sex relationship or civil partnership.

Do I have to live in Brent?

We will consider your application if you live in any of the London Boroughs within the M25 and any other boroughs that border the M25. You would need to be in a location that is convenient for both the children in your care and for yourself.

Do I have to own a big house?

To be a Brent foster carer you do not need to own a property. You could be living in privately rented accommodation, in a council property, or in your own house or flat. As long as you have the necessary available space to accommodate a child, you are eligible to apply for fostering.

You need to have a spare room if you want to care for children over the age of three or space in your bedroom for a cot if you want to foster babies.

Can I foster if I have children of my own?

Being a parent means that you have some degree of childcare experience, and this is valuable and useful when you become a foster carer. When placing a child with you we will take into account the ages of your own children.

Can I work whilst fostering?

You can work and foster as long as your working situation allows you to be available for the needs of the child – manage school runs, attend meetings and doctor’s appointment. We have foster carers who look after older children, which allows them to work full-time because the child is more independent. As a baby carer, however, this is impossible, unfortunately, and you need to be available 24/7. Find out more about what to expect from looking after babies and how your schedule may look like from Sam, Brent foster carer for young children.

The Fostering Network supports employment of foster carers through a fostering friendly scheme aimed at employers, which you can use to start a discussion with your employer.

Is fostering a job?

Fostering requires commitment, a specific skill set and various strengths but it is not classified as a job. Fostering contains elements of a non-traditional/voluntary type of role: looking after children in your own home, not being paid an hourly rate but a flat fee that covers the living costs of the child, you will not have a manager but you will have to undergo an annual review and attend the fostering panel, there is a supervising social worker who will advise, guide and support you during all your time with Brent, and most importantly through fostering you help those in need and make a positive change in the community.

There is training available and by attending the sessions you can learn more and improve your practice. The best part about fostering is that the outcomes are visible long-term. No traditional job compares to being a foster carer and changing a child’s life.

If you feel that you want to make a difference, contact us or come to an information evening to find out more about fostering.

Can you foster just babies?

As a Brent foster carer you will be approved to look after children aged 0 to 18, but if you have a preferred age group we give you the opportunity to express this and will take it into account when considering you for a particular placement.

If you feel that you have the availability and patience to foster babies, you can definitely do this as long as you meet the requirements.

How long do foster placements last?

There are two types of placements based on their length: short-term and long-term.

Short-term fostering can range from providing overnight care through to looking after a child for several weeks, months or even a couple of years, depending on the needs of the child.

Long-term fostering is a more committed arrangement where children are placed with you until they turn 18 or are ready to live independently. Children placed with long-term foster carers often develop strong bonds with them, and some wish to continue living with them after they turn 18. If the carer agrees, the placement can be extended for a specific period under Staying Put arrangements.

Who pays for day-care for a foster child?

The ‘free early years’ education’ grant also known as the ’15 free hours scheme’ entitles all 3 and 4 year olds to 15 hours of free education each week for 38 weeks (equivalent to school term time). Working families can claim an additional 15 hours (30 hours total) of childcare. Children in care benefit from the ‘free early years’ education’ grant as well. Learn more about what the early years’ scheme.

Can you take your foster child on vacation?

We want you to include the children in family activities as much as possible; however, based on the circumstances of each child together with you we will decide what is best for them.

For example, if there are issues with children’s immigration status or if the holiday interferes with mandatory appointments or family visits, taking them away with you is impossible and a respite carer will step in to look after the children.