Fostering a child

Fostering provides a caring and safe environment for children and young people. If you choose to become a foster carer, we will guide you through all stages of the process, offering encouragement and support. The children you foster may have had some difficult experiences and require your understanding and support. The training you receive can help you do that.

If you're interested in fostering, we’d love to hear from you. We need people in good health, who are energetic and have patience, understanding, and resilience. We welcome enquiries from anyone over 21, who is a UK resident and has no criminal convictions against children. This includes single people and unmarried couples in long-term relationships.

A great way to discover what it means to become a foster carer and to learn more is to book a one-to-one session with one of our foster carers. Get in touch if you want us to arrange this.

For more information email the team or contact them on 0800 038 1313 or 020 8379 2831.

Experienced foster carers

You have the right to move from your current agency or local authority and foster for Enfield. You should not feel pressured to stay with them.

If you need advice on transferring to our fostering service, we are happy to help make the process as smooth as possible. Contact the team for more information.

Becoming a foster carer

Stage one of the fostering assessment process is to complete a telephone enquiry, where we ask about your reasons for considering fostering, your family circumstances and whether you have a reasonably-sized spare room.

You may want to apply to foster at this stage, which means we start the initial security (DBS), medical and referee checks. This helps to establish if you and your household are suitable, whether your home is a safe and comfortable environment, and whether you can provide a good standard of care.

The next step is for us to arrange a visit to your home, where you will have an opportunity to find out more about fostering and the kind of children who need care. The visit gives us the opportunity to see your potential as a foster carer. If your application is in line with our criteria, we will invite you to our Skills to Foster training course.

Skills to Foster is a three-day foster training course that you (and your partner if you have one) must attend as part of the assessment. Any of your adult children are also welcome. The course helps you make an informed judgement about whether fostering is for you, and helps us gain a sense of whether you have the right skills and attitude.

As we work with you, you will be aware of the reasons why we make a decision to progress or not. At any stage you can meet with an existing foster carer to find out about their experiences in Enfield. You can also apply to foster at any stage of the process up until the completion of the preparation training (and before stage two begins).

At stage two you will be allocated an assessing social worker, who will meet with you in your home approximately eight times over four to five months. They will carry out an in-depth assessment for our fostering panel and during the visits they will get to know you and set practical tasks.

The visits will assess how you may manage fostering and determine what type of fostering is suited to you. As part of this, the assessor will discuss your past experiences of being parented as well as your past relationships. This is to form a picture of how you have become the person you are today. You will have an opportunity to share any concerns and consider the impact fostering will have on your family.

The fostering panel will consider your assessment report and make a recommendation. Our Assistant Director will then make the final decision about approving you as a foster carer.

Although the process can seem daunting, it’s a rewarding experience which gives you an opportunity to reflect and gain a sense of the skills you can bring or will need to develop.

Ready to take your enquiry forward?

Enquire about fostering

It is important for us to find foster carers in Enfield who can help maintain stability in the lives and relationships of young people. We are interested in hearing from individuals and families from all backgrounds, who can offer a safe and stable home life.

Types of fostering:

  • Babies and children under two are often fostered while they are preparing for adoption or a return to their family home. Fostering a young child is very rewarding, as you can see them develop and thrive in a short time.
  • Children with disabilities can include autism, learning difficulties, physical difficulties and complex health needs. The fostering service recruits, trains and helps foster carers to support the needs of children with disabilities. Parents of children with a disability often provide intensive care and may need regular breaks. We welcome applications from people who have experience and enjoy caring for disabled children and young people.
  • Remand foster carers provide short-term care for 10-17 year olds, who are waiting for a case to be resolved in Youth Court. The placement can be from one night to a few months. When looking after a young person on remand, you will need to accompany them to court appearances and make sure they adhere to bail conditions. It is an advantage if foster carers have experience of teenagers and the youth criminal justice system. In addition to standard foster carer training, remand foster carers will receive specialist training from the Youth Offending team, to help young people manage the court system and make positive changes to their life.
  • Siblings must be placed in foster care together. It is very important they are not separated. If you feel you can provide care for more than one child, get in touch.
  • Teenagers need foster carers who are tolerant, patient and flexible. You will need to set clear and consistent boundaries, and really listen to make sense of any concerns or issues they have. This short film from Fostering Consortium Enfield features carers and care leavers discussing their positive experiences and the differences that can be made to a young person’s life.
  • Young parents sometimes need support to help raise their children. We are seeking foster carers who can provide a home to care for both parent and child.

 

Jobs and unemployment

You can still foster a child if you are unemployed. Children benefit from having someone to care for them full-time. As a foster carer, you will also receive fostering allowances and other payments that will cover the cost of caring for a child.

If you have a job someone must be at home and available for the children when needed. This includes before and after school, and during holidays. Foster carers must also be available to attend fostering meetings and training.

Language skills

You need to be able to write and speak English to a level that allows you to communicate with professionals, support children’s education and keep records. If you have any communication needs, we can discuss these with you.

Moving house

It is unlikely we will begin the fostering process if you are moving house, as your home is an important part of your assessment.

Police records

Only criminal convictions that relate to an offence against children or a sexual offence will prevent people from being able to foster. A criminal Disclosure and a Barring Service Check will be performed.  Let us know about all criminal convictions when you apply.

Smokers

We do not place children under five, or vulnerable children with respiratory, heart or other medical conditions in homes with a smoker. You must be smoke-free for at least a year before we consider an application to foster children under five. We also expect foster carers to abide by our guidelines and minimise a child’s exposure to tobacco smoke.

Spare bedrooms

If you want to foster a child over two, you must have a spare bedroom. Foster children cannot share a room with you, your children or other foster children. If you don’t have a spare room, you can consider fostering a baby. Children under two can sleep in a cot in their foster carer’s room.

 

Carers allowance

If you receive at least the middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance for a foster child, then you may be able to receive carers allowance. You will need to be regularly caring for the child at least 35 hours per week and you must not have an income of more than £77 per week. Foster care allowances are not included in this. 

Child benefit

You cannot receive this for any child who you are receiving a foster care allowance for.

Children’s tax credit

You can only claim for your own children. Some of your fostering allowance may be counted as income if it is taxable.

Disability living allowance

You can claim this for yourself and for any disabled foster child you are looking after.

Employment and support allowance

You can claim this if you are fostering, but the Department of Works and Pensions may regard fostering as an indication that you are able to work. You should seek advice and consider appealing if it becomes a problem.

Housing benefit and council tax

You can continue to claim housing benefit and council tax benefit, and your fostering allowance will not be counted as income. If you have no children in care, then fee payments you receive may affect your housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Income support

You can claim income support if you are the sole foster carer or are looking after your own children who are under seven. Foster allowances, including any reward elements are not counted as income, but no personal allowances can be claimed for foster children. If you receive a fee payment when you have no children in care, these are treated as income and you should inform income support. Any earnings from a job other than fostering, count as income and may reduce your entitlement.

Job seeker’s allowance

Contribution-based job seeker’s allowance is not generally affected by fostering allowances. However, you need to be working less than 16 hours per week and have a current jobseeker’s agreement. You must show that you are still available for and actively seeking full-time work. The Department of Works and Pensions could find that your fostering duties prevent you from meeting the qualifying conditions and you may lose entitlement to job seeker’s allowance.

Income-based job seeker’s allowance requires you to be available for, capable of and actively seeking work. The rules are the same as for claiming income support.

National Insurance credits for carers

Foster carers are self-employed and responsible for making their own National Insurance contributions. You only have to pay National Insurance on your fostering allowance if it exceeds the foster carer tax relief exemption. If you claim income support, job seeker’s allowance or employment and support allowance, then your National Insurance record is credited to you.

If you don’t claim these benefits and none of your income is taxable, you need to apply for National Insurance credits from HMRC. It is important to keep your National Insurance record up to date, to protect your State Retirement Pension.

Pension credit

You can claim under the same rules as income support. However, the pension age of women is increasing, so you should check what qualifies as pension age at time of your claim.

Tax relief

You can receive the first £10,000 in fees, as well as allowances up to £200 for a child under 11 and £250 for a child over 11 each week that you care for them. You may pay tax on anything above this if you have used your tax-free allowance of £8,105.

As a self-employed person, you must pay your own tax and National Insurance. An accountant can help and you should seek guidance from HMRC.

Working tax credit

You can claim this as the sole foster carer or as a couple. You must be over 25 and work (including fostering) at least 30 hours a week. You need only work 16 hours per week if you look after your own children. Fostering allowances only count as income if they are taxable.

 

Fostering support

To help you prepare for becoming a foster carer, we offer support at every stage of the application process and in your role as a foster carer. This includes access to regular support groups and regular visits from your dedicated supervising social worker, to provide you with continuing support and guidance for fostering.

We also offer free training for foster carers to help you prepare, as well as ongoing training opportunities including online training to help you build on your skills.

In addition to a maintenance allowance for the child, there is a generous allowance for you which is linked to your attendance at training.

Evening and weekend out of hours support and advice is always available to foster carers, and you will have access to Enfield’s Emergency Duty Team, which is a 24-hour service to assist carers with emergencies that may occur.

We have a psychologist who works with foster carers when challenges arise. This includes facilitation of therapeutic support group for carers. Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service also provides consultation, advice and therapeutic support to children.

After becoming a foster carer, you can join the Enfield Fostering Association, which is run by foster carers. The Association works in partnership with us to promote the interests of Enfield’s foster carers and foster children.

As a foster carer, we sign you up to be a member of the independent charity Fostering Network, which offers:

  • subscriptions to Foster Care magazine and monthly newsletters
  • access to online resources and helplines
  • expert legal assistance
  • advice on tax, national insurance, benefits, mortgages and pensions
  • training and events

Foster carers will receive an allowance to look after children in their care, as well as a fee to recognise the skills they offer the child. Payment is made directly into the carer’s bank account. These allowances mean that carers have the funds to care for children and a financial reward for themselves. Foster carers are not employed by Enfield and a fostering allowance will not affect benefit claims.

Upcoming events

Our fostering information drop-in sessions allow you to talk informally with an experienced member of our team and one of our foster carers. We hold recruitment events  in various venues across Enfield. You can receive the latest information about our events from our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

If you're still deciding if fostering is for you, view the short videos below.

Enquire about becoming an Enfield foster carer

If you're interested in finding out about adoption as an alternative email the team or see our Adopting a child page.