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There are many things you need to know before becoming a foster carer. That’s why we’ve put together answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about fostering to help you decide whether it’s right for you.

If you still have a question that isn’t answered below, please get in touch and one of our fostering advisors will be happy to help.

What is the difference between an independent or non-statutory foster care agency and fostering for Tusla?

We’re an independent fostering agency. This means we work in partnership with Tusla to provide fostering placements.

Tusla is responsible for the wellbeing of children in public care and will refer a child to us when they’re in need of a placement. We have our own foster carers and our own team of therapists, education officers, support workers and social workers who work round-the-clock to provide our foster carers with the support they need.

Who can apply to be a foster carer?

Anyone can be a foster carer. It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, living together, divorced, gay, lesbian or heterosexual. Our carers come from all backgrounds, cultures and religions. We do have five criteria though:

  • You need a spare bedroom
  • You need to be over the age of 25
  • As the main carer, you must be able to commit to fostering on a full-time basis. (Exclusions may apply. Please contact an FFI fostering advisor on 1850 211593 or complete our online enquiry form for further information)
  • You need a full driving licence
  • If you are fostering as a couple, you’ll need to have been in your relationship for at least 5 years

Will a previous criminal conviction prevent me from fostering?

Not necessarily – it depends on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. We carry out Garda checks as part of our application process, so we’d advise you to declare and discuss any convictions as soon as possible so we can decide whether it’ll affect your application. Any information you share will remain confidential.

What sort of checks will be carried out on me and my home?

In order to find out if fostering’s right for you, we’ll carry out a number of checks on you and your home. These include:

  • Garda clearance checks
  • Tusla address checks
  • A standard safety check on your home
  • Employment references
  • School references
  • Overseas address checks
  • Financial stability checks
  • Health checks

If I’m going to be the main foster carer, do you need to carry out checks on my partner?

We believe that all couples living together are partners in fostering, so you’ll both need to take part in the assessment process.

Children who foster also have a hugely important role, so we’ll need to carry out checks on any of your own children over the age of 16.

Can a child I foster share a bedroom with one of my own children?

No. We’ll only place a child in a home where he or she will have their own bedroom (unless they are a young sibling group).

Can I still go out to work and be a foster carer?

We believe that at least one foster carer in the household should be at home on a full time basis. This is to ensure that a child or young person in your care is looked after in the best way possible.

In some cases though, it’s still possible for you to continue working in a part time, highly flexible role. This will depend on your individual circumstances and will need to be discussed with one of our fostering advisors. For more information, please call us on 1850 211593.

Can I choose how long I want children and young people to stay with me?

During the assessment process, we’ll sit down with you to discuss what types of fostering will suit you best. It isn’t always possible to know exactly how long a child will stay with you, but we’ll keep you updated as much as we can.

Can I choose which age group or sex I would prefer to foster?

While you can give us a preference, it’s worth bearing in mind that to have continuous placements you need to be willing to take on teenagers as well as younger children. Most of the children referred to us are over the age of ten and a higher proportion of them are boys than girls. Ideally, we’d like you to be able to offer the same support to children of all ages.

How much will I know about the child or young person before they are placed with me?

We try to give you as much information about a young person as we can when we discuss a potential placement with you, including any difficult behaviour and how to manage it. But sometimes we have very little information, especially in an emergency. However, we’ll always seek to find out as much as we can as quickly as possible.

Who is responsible for taking the children to school and to the doctor, etc?

As a foster carer, you have responsibility for these day-to-day tasks; the school run and doctor’s trips included. Should you have a problem on an odd occasion, your link social worker can help you make alternative arrangements.

Are we allowed to smack foster children?

No form of corporal punishment is acceptable under the regulations governing fostering; this includes any form of smacking, slapping or shaking.

We provide training to all our carers on alternative and effective ways to cope with difficult behaviour.

Do I get extra help if I care for a child with special needs or a disability?

We understand that fostering a child with disabilities or medical needs can be challenging, which is why we’ll provide you with all the additional training, support and specialist equipment you need to care for them in the best way possible.

What payments and allowances will I receive?

The statutory fostering allowance is currently €352 per week, per child, although this can vary depending on placement type.

What does the allowance cover?

Your weekly allowance is intended to cover living costs such as food, clothes, school books, basic travel and household bills.

Will I be taxed on this income?

The allowances you receive when fostering with us are exempt from taxation under the Finance Bill 2005. This also means that the money you earn isn’t classed as income when applying for certain benefits and will not affect your ability to receive disability allowance, disability benefit, unemployment assistance or a medical card.

Once I’m approved, how long will I have to wait for my first placement?

The time between getting approved and having your first placement varies from person to person. It normally takes around 6 months to go through the approval process. After this, you can begin receiving referrals right away, but we’ll always try and match you with the best possible placement based on your individual needs and circumstances.

If you have any questions about fostering, simply click here and get in touch.