How to become a foster carer

A step-by-step guide to becoming a foster carer

If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer in Southampton, this page offers a practical guide to the process so that you can be prepared before applying. This process ensures that young people are placed in the right home for both them and you so that the placement can be a success.

Watch the video below for some answers to frequently asked fostering questions, or click any of the questions to head straight to the answer.

Why should I foster?

How do I know if I'm eligible?

How do I apply?

What can I do to prepare?

What does the assessment involve?

How do I get approved?


Why should I foster?

Every 15 minutes, a child comes into care in the UK. Foster care offers these children a stable home, either for a short-term or long-term placement, where they will be able to thrive.

We are always looking for more foster carers from Southampton and the surrounding area to ensure every child in need can find the right home.


"I like to think I've made a positive difference to some children's lives." - Paula



How do I know if I’m eligible to foster?

You might be eligible to foster if you:

  • have a spare room
  • are aged 21 or over
  • have childcare experience (professionally or personally)

These are the basic requirements for being able to provide a stable and caring home to a young person.

A number of other criteria, such as your employment status, living arrangements and general health may also determine if you can become a carer or what type of fostering you’ll be able to provide. As part of the application process, you will be assessed to establish how suitable you are to become a foster carer. If you're still feeling unsure, you can read our myth buster sheet.


"You need to be flexible, open-minded and organised." - Debbie and Peter



How do I apply?

First of all, if you’d like to get in touch for more information, you can email fostering@southampton.gov.uk or call 0800 5 19 18 18. You can also visit one of our pop-up events around the city to talk to the team in person.

When you feel ready to apply, you can fill out an enquire about fostering online form. You will need to provide information about you and your family, as well as people willing to act as references for you.


"We're so glad we rose to the challenge." - Kinga and Tomasz



What can I do to prepare?

After receiving your application, Southampton City Council will take up your references, and run a number of other checks, including a DBS (police) check and an employment check. Assisting with these as promptly as possible will help the process move more quickly.

You will also need to have a medical (this is usually with your own GP), and at this stage you may take part in initial training. Only once these checks are completed can you begin your assessment.


"It's wonderful being able to offer children a safe environment in which to grow." - Gillian White



What does the assessment involve?

There are two stages to the assessment:

Stage 1 is when numerous checks are carried out, including personal and employer references, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, health and Local Authority checks. This usually takes two months.

Stage 2 is when an assessing social worker will visit your home several times to meet you and your family in order to gain a thorough understanding of your capabilities to be a foster carer. This stage also includes Form F writing, and usually takes around four months.

You will also need to undertake a three day 'Skills to Foster' training course which will give you practical skills and abilities in order to successfully foster.


"The excellent training I have received has been invaluable to me." - Adilah



How do I get approved?

The fostering panel will review your report, before meeting to discuss it. You and your assessing social worker will be invited to attend this panel.

The panel will decide whether to recommend your approval as a foster carer. After this, the final decision is made by the head of the fostering service.


Ready to apply?

You can enquire about becoming a foster carer by filling out the form below.

Enquire about fostering 

Or you can read more success stories from Southampton foster carers.