Teenage boy in living room

Foster a child

Welcome a child into your family

I absolutely love it. The children I’ve had have been awesome and seeing the changes in them has been so rewarding. In fact rewarding doesn’t begin to describe the feeling when you witness those special moments.


Barnardo's foster carer.

Find out about becoming a foster carer with Barnardo's

What is fostering and why do people do it?

Foster care provides a safe, secure and stable environment for children and young people who cannot live with their birth family. 

Not every child has a loving, stable home. When life gets tough or unsafe at home, children and teenagers need a caring adult to look after them until things can get better. Fostering provides a caring environment for these young people, working with them, their families and the Local Authority or Trust.

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What do you get out of being a foster carer?

Research we conducted found that the main reason people choose to foster is to offer a stable and safe family for vulnerable children during a difficult time.
It can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. Your love and support can make a huge difference to a child’s life, and to yours.

Read and watch the stories of Barnardo's foster carers to find out more about the rewards of fostering.
A woman in glasses smiles at the camera
There are so many special moments that we shared with each child, from teaching them how to tie their shoelaces and ride their bikes, to supporting them to thrive at school. And emotional moments when one of our foster children introduced us as ‘mum and dad’ to their friends for the first time. 


Foster Carer

Transform a child's life, and your own.

There are currently over 100,000 children in care in the UK. There is a growing shortage of foster carers, leaving vulnerable children without safe, stable and loving families. 

Barnardo’s has over 100 years’ experience of successfully looking after children and young people with families. We will give you all the the tools and specialist support you need to help the children in your care reach their dreams. Our experts provide comprehensive preparation and ongoing training, as well as offering support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Foster carers will also get financial support, including an allowance to help make a positive difference to a child’s life. Find out more about the training and support we offer foster carers.

We have over 20 fostering, adoption and short break services across the UK and are currently looking for foster carers in many locations around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Find a Barnardo's fostering service near you.

Do foster carers get paid?

Foster carer payments and allowances

Barnardo’s provides a generous professional fee in recognition of your role as a carer. Foster carers also receive a fostering allowance for each child in their care. This allowance increases as a child gets older and covers food, clothing, household expenses, pocket money, bus or travel fares, holidays and birthdays, Christmas and other festival gifts.

Find out more about the financial support available to foster carers.

What qualities do you need to be a foster carer?

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Sharon, Alex and James with Oisin discuss the qualities they think you need to be a foster carer.

You don’t need special qualifications or childcare experience to foster. What you do need is patience, understanding and a passion to offer a safe and loving environment to the children or young people in your care.

Who can foster?

You can foster if you: 

  • are 21 or over 
  • ​​​​have a spare bedroom big enough for a child or young person to live in 
  • are a full-time resident in the UK or have the right to work in the UK
  • are able to give the time to care for a child or young person.

Find out more about who can be a foster carer.

Types of fostering

What are the different types of foster homes?

Every child is different and that each has their own unique care needs. To accommodate them, we provide a variety of foster homes to children and young people across the UK. These include short term fostering, parent and child fostering and permanent or long term fostering among others.

Find out more about different types of fostering

Transferring between fostering agencies

If you are a foster carer who is already registered with a fostering agency, you may be considering transferring to a different organisation. You have the right to do this, and Barnardo’s can help you make the right choice for you and your family.

We follow the guidance in the Fostering Network's Transfer Protocols. These protocols guide the way fostering services should manage the movement of foster carers between services and help ensure children and young people are safe and their foster placements stable.

Find out more about our services

We offer services across the UK, but what services and who is eligible may differ depending on location. Search for the services near you and read the information on that service, or contact someone directly at that service, to find out if we can help you.