Becoming a foster/kinship foster carer

Fostering provides care for children looked after by social services because they cannot live with their own families. Through fostering, a child lives in a loving, safe and stable home for as long as they need.

Foster/kinship carers 

There is no maximum age limit for being a foster/kinship foster carer. You can apply to be a foster/kinship carer:

  • if you have or don't have your own children 
  • if you're single, married or live with a partner
  • if you're employed or out of work
  • if you live in your own home or rent
  • whatever your race, religion or sexuality

Applying to be a foster/kinship carer

If you are interested in becoming a foster/kinship foster carer, contact your local fostering service or the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service.

This can either be the social services department in your local Trust, the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service or an independent fostering agency. They will explain what is involved and will help you decide whether fostering is right for you and your family.

Following some training, you will be asked to complete an application to foster. At this stage you will be asked for a medical with your GP. Some safeguarding checks including an Access NI check and a social services check will be carried out. You will also be asked to provide references.

A social worker will complete an assessment of you and your family. It is a thorough process but is necessary for the safety and welfare of any child that might be placed with you. At any stage of the process you are free to withdraw your application.

The fostering team may also feel unable to go ahead with your application. They'll give give you reasons for their decision.

Finally, your application will be sent to a fostering panel who will recommend whether you can become a foster/kinship foster carer.

Regional Adoption and Fostering Service

The five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts have responsibility for the welfare of all Looked After Children in Northern Ireland. Each Trust provides a vital fostering service to the people in their community. Together, the five Trusts’ fostering services are supported by the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service.

HSC foster carers in Northern Ireland are made up of emergency, short term, longer term, kinship and short break foster carers.

To find out more about becoming a foster/kinship foster carer, go to:

Independent fostering 

There are also independent fostering providers that provide fostering services in Northern Ireland, including Barnardo’s, Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland, Action for Children and Foster Care Associates Northern Ireland.

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