You may be able to offer a home to a child or young person who cannot live with their own family.

Children can be cared for by a foster family for weeks, months or for the rest of their childhood, depending on their circumstances. You may also be able to offer respite care at weekend or holidays.

Who can foster children and young people

We welcome applications from:

  • people from any race or religion
  • single people, or couples of any sexual orientation
  • people who are in work or unemployed
  • people with children of their own and people who don't have children of their own

How to become a foster carer

As you’d expect, our assessment process is thorough and usually takes about 6-12 months. If you apply to become a foster carer, here’s what will happen.

  • Come along to one of our Open Information Evenings. You’ll meet our fostering team and some of our carers and find out more about fostering with us.
  • Complete and return an enquiry form. Once you’ve done this, we’ll assign a social worker to you.
  • We’ll visit you at home to meet you and your family. This initial interview helps us get to know you better and assess if you’re suitable to continue to the next part of our process.
  • Attend up to four preparation groups. These sessions give you the chance to learn more about the fostering process and help you to understand what it means to be a foster carer.
  • Complete our formal application form. This is the official start of the process for you to become a foster carer.
  • We’ll start our home study assessment. During this assessment, your social worker will discuss all relevant aspects of your application to foster.
  • Our Fostering Panel will consider your application. They’ll recommend whether you can be a foster carer and suggest the specific age ranges, gender and how many children you can foster at the same time.
  • The Agency Decision Maker then makes the decision to approve you as foster carer or not.
  • Your own social worker will always give you the professional training and advice you need when you’re applying to become a foster carer and when you are a foster carer. You’ll also get paid for fostering a child or young person.

Why children may need foster care

Many children who need foster carers come from a difficult background. Their family life has often been chaotic and foster care can be their first experience of a stable routine with consistent rules and expectations.

Many children arrive in foster care scared and anxious. This can cause a variety of behavioural issues such as tantrums, confrontational behaviour, withdrawal, running away, self-harm, stealing and illnesses.

What being a foster carer means

Looking after children who are sad, distressed and confused is not the easiest thing in the world, but the rewards can be incredible. When a child or young person is living in your home, you’ll be:

  • offering physical and emotional care on our behalf
  • meeting the individual needs of the child or children in your care
  • working together with social workers and other agencies involved in the child's life
  • working with the child’s parents
  • enabling the child to stay in contact with their parents
  • attending meetings or Children's Hearings about the child in your care
  • assessing the child's needs
  • helping the child express their wishes or feelings
  • making sure the child has medical and dental checks

Private fostering: what you need to know

If you think you might be, or are soon to be, a private foster carer, you must legally tell us about this arrangement.

Private fostering is the term we use when a parent or guardian places a child who is under school-leaving age in the care of someone else for more than 28 days. This person is not a close relative or an officially approved foster carer.

This arrangement is private. But we are legally obliged to ensure the welfare of every privately fostered child. To do this, we carry out checks to make sure the child is safe. We can offer support and advice to both the parents and carers of a privately fostered child. The Scottish Government has issued updated guidance on local authority responsibilities.