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I’d Love to Be A Foster Carer – But Is There an Age Limit?

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Understandably, there are plenty of questions and queries that people have when they consider fostering. But one of the most frequent questions we hear is – what is the age limit to foster a child?

Being a foster carer is all about how well you can provide and care for children and young people. As a carer, you’ll need to provide a safe environment for them to live in, offer so much needed nurturing and support, and help them develop stable foundations.

So, as long as you’re completely capable and able to offer these things, then there is no age limit for foster carers. With 56,000 children in foster care and only 44,500 families, age should be no barrier to providing love and support to a vulnerable person.

If you are interested in fostering, but concerned about your age, read on as we discuss everything you should consider.

What is the age limit for foster carers?

In short, there is no fostering age limit. However, while there is no specific age limit for fostering, there are a range of specific criteria that you need to pass in order to become a foster carer.

Is there a minimum age for foster carers?

While the answer to ‘is there an upper age limit for fostering’ is a simple no, there are more age-related restrictions that come into play when it comes to a minimum age range.

Fostering in the UK

There is no fostering age limit in the UK, but there is a minimum age. You have to be 21 years old to foster a child. This is down to a number of factors. For example, those who grew up as foster children can take part in the Staying Put programme which supports them until the age of 21. It’s also the age that many finish education or become more stable.

However, individuals can start the fostering process from the age of 18. They are able to submit their application go through the approval process and complete their training before they reach 21 years old.

Fostering in Ireland

Again, while fostering in Ireland has no age limit, there is a minimum age. In Ireland, the threshold is slightly higher. So, to be a foster carer, you must be 25 years old and over. Again, this is down to various reasons, including education, stability and the maximum age that fostered children are regarded as having ‘flown the nest’.

Myth-busting: age is no barrier

While age itself might be a key concern for many, there are also a number of age-related concerns that come part and parcel when considering life as a foster carer. However, many of the age-related worries that cause people to hold back shouldn’t do so, as they’re often a misconception.

My income is too low

A key worry for both old and young, income is thought to be a significant barrier for those looking at fostering. With an extra mouth to feed, sometimes more with sibling placements and additional bills, it can seem incredibly daunting if you don’t have plenty of savings or a suitable salary.

However, you don’t need to have thousands of pounds to care for a foster child. As a foster carer, you’ll be given a fee, along with an allowance for the child, so there should be no money worries when welcoming a young person into your family.

Typically, other fostering agencies and local councils provide fees according to the age of the child. But here at Olive Branch Fostering, we take a different approach with pay for foster carers, with all families starting with the same weekly rate which increases every year as they gain more experience.

I have a job

There are no set rules about having a job while fostering, but it is considered on a case by case basis. For example, it would be incredibly hard to work full-time while caring for a baby or young child. However, when it comes to those who are of school age, flexible or part-time work is much more manageable.

I don’t think I could care for babies or very young children

Older generations can often be put off fostering by the thought of caring for babies and toddlers. With a wide range of needs and constant attention required, it can be a task that demands a lot of energy and vigour.

However, for those still wanting to foster, who would prefer care for more independent children, you can opt to foster children of a specific age range. You can also choose to be a respite carer, offering short-term care to provide a breather for other foster, adoptive and birth families.

I don’t own my own home

The matter of not owning your own home can be a worry for younger generations. When it comes to your residence, the vital thing is security. So long as your home is a stable and safe one, you’re able to become a foster carer.

Becoming a foster carer

So, is there an age limit for fostering a child? Absolutely not. As long as you meet the criteria, you’re able to make a significant positive impact on the life of a vulnerable child.

Older generations have a lot to bring to the table as they will have access to years of life experience, and many will have also experienced parenthood before. Those who are younger are also sought after, providing the vitality that energetic little ones adore.

So, if you’re ready to begin your journey towards becoming a foster carer, why not get in touch? We’re always happy to talk through any queries and provide more information. Then, when you’re ready, we’ll help you start your application. To get started, contact us on 01706 558910 and a friendly fostering advisor will be in touch to arrange an informal chat.


Fostering insights


  • Foster Carer
  • Advice

Date published

10 March 2020

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