Can you be a foster carer if you are single?

We know that there are a lot of single people out there - male and female, including single parents who have thought about fostering but have been put off from applying because they think we’d prefer married couples or people in partnerships. If that’s you, please think again as single parents can foster. And, especially if you’re male, please don’t think you’re at a disadvantage. All potential foster carers come to us as equals, and they’re all treated as equals too.

The truth is that we simply want great foster carers who can support and encourage vulnerable children and young people, and a single person male, female, gay, straight or transgender – can do this just as effectively as a couple. We know this because we have a number of single foster carers on our teams and we’d like to have more. Fostering isn’t about conventions and traditional family units. It’s about care, patience and tolerance and all the other important qualities that foster carers need.

Having said all that, there are certain things you’ll need to consider because there’s no doubt that being a single foster carer can be trickier than fostering as a couple – largely because there’s nobody else to share the responsibilities with you.

Are you willing to give up an active social life?

You need to consider how much you’re willing to give up, and equally, how much you’re willing to involve a young person in your life. This is probably the biggest and most important question, because inevitably your social horizons will change. In some ways they’ll get bigger, because of all the training and events we hold locally.

Do you have a supportive network of family and friends?

We expect foster carers to be there for the foster children in their care 24/7, including being able to drop everything to collect them from school if they’re ill. You’ll need support now and again and although we’re always here for you, it really helps to have close friends and family you can rely on in an emergency.

Do you have a demanding job?

Fostering is demanding too, and you might not be able to balance both effectively especially if you foster as a single parent. In fact, while we’re open to the possibility of you continuing to work full time or part time, it might not be in the best interests of the child so we’d need to talk about this more during your assessment. For example, we’d need to understand the hours you work and how flexible your employer is.

Do you understand the challenges of working with children?

We don’t ask for experience, but it obviously helps to be aware of what’s involved. So have you worked with children in a professional or voluntary capacity, or have you looked after a younger brother or sister?

Do you have a physical disability or mental health condition?

Neither of these is necessarily an obstacle to becoming a foster carer, but you must be able to fulfil the role effectively without it affecting your own well-being. Find out more here.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need any special qualifications or experience to foster?

No, we will give you all the training you need together with ongoing development and support. 

Learn more about the fostering process.

Do I need to have a spare room to foster?

Yes, you’ll need to have a spare bedroom to foster a child.

There are a number of different reasons why you need a spare bedroom in your home.  Primarily it is part of the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards stating every child over the age of three should have their own bedroom.  But not only this, there are many other factors such as the child’s safety, security and privacy to also consider.

A child needs their own bedroom to provide a sense of security and dedicated space to play or be creative without distraction.

Learn more about fostering and a spare bedroom.

Can I still work and be a foster carer?

In some cases it is still possible for you to continue working on a part-time or flexible basis depending on your individual circumstances. 

Ideally we ask for at least one foster carer to be available for fostering on a full-time basis, so that we can ensure that the child or young person in your care is being looked after in the best way possible. As a foster carer, you have responsibility for day-to-day tasks; the school run, be available during school holidays, attend medical appointments on behalf or with your child, attend training, review meetings.  Should you have a problem on an odd occasion, your supervising social worker can help you make alternative arrangements.

Do I need to own my own home to foster?

No you don’t, if you live in rented accommodation you will need permission from your landlord.

More FAQs

Got some more questions?
Find out the answers here.

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Fostering finance calculator

The amount you receive in foster care payments varies from placement to placement. We understand that some children have more challenging needs and requirements than others, and that sometimes you’ll need a helping hand. Factors such as this, along with the age of the child being placed with you and the type of placement, can all affect the allowances and fostering payments you’ll receive.

Find out what payments you could receive

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