What Do Foster Care Agencies in the UK Say About Criminal Records?

foster care uk

There is a lot of debate regarding being able to foster a child in the UK if you have past convictions and a criminal record. Interestingly, there are actually a lot of misconceptions. Most people will assume if they have a criminal record, foster care agencies will want nothing to do with them, but this is not necessarily the case.

Foster care agencies, of course, have the child’s best interests at heart, this will mean they are not prepared to place them in any danger. However, with sufficient checks and measures in place, the goal posts as to what is deemed safe are not always black and white.

Throughout the rest of this blog we will take a deep dive into fostering in the UK with a criminal record, exactly what will disqualify you, and even point you in the direction of how to get into fostering.

Can I Be a Foster Carer in the UK With a Criminal Record?

This is where the common misconception lies. People looking to foster tend to believe that foster care agencies in the UK will not begin a foster care journey with you, if you have a criminal record. We’re here to clarify though, that a criminal record does not necessarily disqualify you from being a foster carer.

It is actually entirely dependent on the nature of the crime you once committed, and how long ago it took place. These factors will be very strongly explored during your application process to foster.

It goes without saying, any crime involving violent or sexual offences means you will not be considered for fostering. Minor convictions, however, are a whole different matter. Foster care agencies, especially independent fostering agencies, recognise that people make mistakes. Often these mistakes are made when people are young. Perhaps they are from a troubled background themselves, or have fallen into the wrong crowd.

It would be incorrect for foster care agencies to not believe people can change in these circumstances. Foster care agencies in the UK have a very thorough assessment process. This allows them to get to know each individual as they are known, being open minded as to what they can bring to a fostering role.

Do Foster Carers Need a DBS Check?

The short answer to this question is yes, but as would any individual looking to begin a foster care journey. Whether you are applying with a local authority, or through an independent foster care agency such as Family fostering Partners, part of the assessment process includes a police check or Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to check on anyone in your household over the age of 18.

The DBS will be carried out during the initial assessment. This will help foster care agencies to understand the severity of your criminal offence and whether you pose a risk to any foster children who might end up in your care.

We would advise you to be up front and honest with your foster care agency from the get go. Disclosing any essential information in the early stages will help the two parties develop trust and loyalty throughout the process.

What are the Foster Carer Requirements in the UK?

First and foremost, foster care agencies are looking for you to be a good, honest, kind and loving person. So long as your offences do you prevent you from being a foster carer, you will also need to consider the following:

  • Your health
  • The fostering minimum age limit of 21 years
  • Ability to perform demanding tasks
  • Transport
  • A spare room available in your home
  • The ties of other commitments such as job/family members

It is also worth noting, another grey area of understanding is marital status. Foster care agencies in the UK do not ask for you to be married, or even in a relationship. You are permitted to be married, single, in a common law relationship. Gay or straight. One final self assessment you will have to make before embarking on this journey, is do you have any pets in your household that could be considered dangerous?

How Do I Apply To Become a Foster Carer in the UK?

If this blog has helped you regarding any queries about your ability to foster a child with a criminal record, and you are in fact looking to begin this journey. We would recommend reaching out to an independent foster care agency such as Family Fostering Partners. Their trusted, experienced team is always available for an initial chat and are willing to discuss any concerns you may have about past convictions. Alternatively, reading their ‘Who can Foster Page’, might be able to clear these questions up before you get in touch.

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