Who can foster

Foster carers are a wonderful mix of people, all with different backgrounds, personalities, and interests.

What they all share is a special ability to provide a safe, supportive, and loving home for children when they need it most. That isn’t just a roof over a child’s head, but a stable environment where they can really feel at home and part of the family.

Our foster carers rise to the challenge of caring for some of Sheffield’s most vulnerable children and are transforming lives in the process.

Qualities we'd like you to have

We’d love you to join our fostering community, if you:

  • want to look after and support children and young people who have had a difficult start in life
  • have the ability to support them, nurture them, communicate with them, advocate on their behalf, and include them as part of your family
  • are willing to work as part of a team, develop your skills and qualities through training and learning, and have the resilience to stay strong in times of difficulty

Practical things to consider

The minimum criteria that we ask for is:

  • to be at least 21 years old
  • to have at least one spare bedroom
  • to be a full-time resident in the UK
  • to be able to give the time to care for a child or young person

You can foster

There’s no such thing as a typical foster carer. Did you know:

  • you can be single and foster, but you will need to demonstrate a network of support
  • you don’t have to own your own home, but you will need to demonstrate stability
  • you can foster if you have a disability
  • you can foster whatever your sexual orientation and we welcome LGBTQ+ foster carers
  • your religion won’t prevent you from fostering, but you will need to demonstrate how you can support a child of a different religion from yours or questioning their own faith
  • you don’t need any formal qualifications, as you will be trained with the skills to foster and be supported to achieve the training and development standards in England
  • you can have a job and foster, depending on the type of fostering you want to do and the needs of the children you will be caring for
  • you can foster if you receive benefits
  • you may still be able to foster if you have had criminal convictions in the past which do not relate to children
  • there is also no upper age limit to foster; some people foster well into their 70s
  • you can have pets and be a foster carer
  • you don’t need to have your own children, but you will need to demonstrate your ability to care for children
  • you can still foster if you smoke, but you will not be able to foster children under 5 or those with health conditions or disabilities. You will also be expected to smoke outside and away from children to ensure they are not affected by the harmful effects of passive smoking
  • you don’t need to be able to drive, but you must be able to take children to and from school, and attend meetings, appointments, and family contact where required

What matters is that you can care for any child you are approved to foster. Being a foster carer is not easy but you will make a huge difference to the lives of the children who need it.

Real foster carer story

One of our wonderful foster carers, Teresa Wheeler, shares her story:

"My parents have been carers since the 90s, and I have spent loads of time around hundreds of children. I was often asked why I didn’t foster, my answer: I have a mortgage and I need to work. ‘But you can still work’, I was told. You can? That was it!
In 2005, with two girls of our own, my husband Mick and I began the fostering process. In 2006, our first family of three children were placed with us. Several months later, these children returned home, and on came the next. In 2008 I had a son, and I looked like the old woman who lived in a shoe some days! We often got shouts of ‘are they all yours?’ and we were always proud to shout back ‘yes they are!’.

My children have been a huge part of our experience, accepting foster children into our home. Some have become best friends, attending the same schools and loving these children as siblings.

I was a dental nurse, but I really wanted to continue to advocate for children. I went to university while juggling part time work, being a parent, and fostering. Assignments were hard and I would often be up until the early hours unlike my fellow students in nightclubs!
In 2012 I became a social worker. I still work in children’s social care for Sheffield City Council and I am proud of it. Work is flexible if I need to start later or if one of the children is poorly. This works well for us, to continue doing what we love at work and caring for children. 
You don’t just need a spare room to be a foster carer. You need kindness, patience, understanding, time, support from family and friends, and a heart as big as a dustbin lid.

Our 92nd child left us last week. I have loved our 17 years and would do every day again. Some children were with us for a few days, with the longest eight years.

Don’t think you can’t foster and have a career – Mick and I know you can."