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Fostering a Child in Scotland

Fostering, unlike adoption, can be for short or long periods of time and does not always involve the granting of a court order. Although it places a child with someone other than the child’s birth parents, it is not necessarily a permanent arrangement.

Fostering can be a hugely positive experience for both the child and the foster carers, but it can be demanding. It is important you understand the commitment and process before you decide to apply for fostering.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to fostering.

Fostering is where a child goes to stay with someone other than their birth parents. This might be because the child’s parents are unable to care for the child on a temporary basis, for example due to illness. The child often stays in contact with their birth parents during the foster placement, and sometimes returns to them at the end of the placement. In some cases the birth parents may not be able to take the child back so the child may go on to be adopted – either by the foster carer or by another party. We can also advise you on adoption issues.

You can apply to your local Social Work department to become a foster carer.  As well as the local authority, you may also apply to a voluntary organisation which looks after children in order to become a foster carer. You will need to be assessed and approved by the local authority or voluntary organisation before a foster child will be able to come and stay with you. The process usually takes around six months. This will include checking your medical history, criminal record, financial situation and the suitability of your home. Once you have been approved and a foster child has been identified, you will enter into a written agreement with the local authority about the placement.

A list of registered fostering agencies in your local area can be found on the Care Inspectorate website.

As a foster carer you will have the day-to-day responsibility for the child but you will not automatically have the same rights in relation to the child as the child’s birth parents. You will only have parental rights and responsibilities for the child if a court has granted these to you.  The child’s birth parents may or may not retain parental rights and responsibilities in respect of the child.

There are no restrictions on who can apply to be a foster carer. 

You can apply to become a foster carer either on your own (as an individual) or as a couple (unmarried or married). Your sexual orientation does not matter.

You will need to be at least 18 years old to foster, although some agencies specify that you must be aged 21 or older. There are upper age restriction. The overriding and most important factor is that you feel that you would be able to care for a child. You should bear in mind that children in foster care often have a troubled background.

You will receive a Fostering Allowance from the local authority to cover the costs of looking after the child. The amount you will receive varies from area to area. The amount will also depend on the age and the needs of the child. You can find out more from the Fostering Network website or Coram BAAF Adoption & Fostering Academy.

A foster placement will end when the child is returned to the birth parents or when the child becomes old enough to live on their own. If a foster placement is not working well then the local authority or agency may bring the placement to an end and the child may be moved to new foster carers. If it becomes evident during the placement that the child will not be returned to their birth parents, then the child might be adopted – either by the foster carer or by another party.

How can Thorntons help?

Contact our Family Law team for advice and information on any fostering concerns.  We can provide you with all the information you need in respect of fostering and the relevant process, and any other options available to you. This will enable you to decide whether or not fostering is the right choice for you.

At Thorntons Family Law, we offer an initial free no-obligation chat over the phone to outline your options and the possible costs.

Depending on your case and circumstances, the next step is to contact one of our local offices to meet a Family Law Solicitor about your case and the way forward.

Call us on 03330 430 150 for a chat or contact us to book an appointment.

How much will it cost?

We are always clear to clients about the potential costs of any option and offer a range of payment options. In some cases we can offer clients a fixed price package. If we cannot offer a fixed price service, we charge based on the time we spend on your case, including meetings, emails and phone calls. Depending on your case and circumstances, you may also need to cover outlays, such as payments to independent experts. We will set out our fees and likely extra costs for you at the start and keep you informed of any possible changes as your case progresses.

Please note we do not offer Legal Aid for this service.