Help and advice for foster carers | Oxfordshire County Council

Help and advice for foster carers

Information available for to help you as a foster carer, including frequently asked questions.

woman on phone with child in arms

You can get help from a range of sources:

  • Carer coordinators - experienced foster carers who are there to support and advise you, holding regular meetings and are available on the phone to respond to your questions
  • The Oxfordshire Foster Care Association (OFCA) - set up by foster carers to support foster carers
  • Your social worker.


Fostering teams

General contact details

Other services

Virtual School for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, 0-25

Aims to raise the achievements and aspirations of looked after children.

The Virtual School for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, 0-25 is a partner to all schools in being the most ambitious and aspirational corporate parents we can be. The headteacher and her team ensure that schools, social workers, carers and other professionals understand statutory responsibilities and are aware of the best practice.

Like all good parents, we ensure that communication about our children is regular and constructive and that we are all working together successfully to help them thrive.

Contact the Virtual School for Looked after Children and Care Leavers, 0-25 is Oxfordshire information website for children and young people in Oxfordshire. It replaces and combines early information and engagement websites for young people including Big Voice Oxfordshire, Spired, Connexions Oxfordshire, Oxcentric, Boombox and the Oxfordshire Survival Guide for Young people.

The information website for young people delivers on the following statutory duties and priorities:

  • Post-16 learning offer
  • Activities to Support wellbeing for 13-19 (up to 25 with LDD)
  • RPA/100% Participation

It also supports many other areas including consultations, safeguarding and public health priorities, the SEND Local Offer and more. quick guide

  • Learning and employment content is popular on the site, and the database of 400+ opportunities for young people at is a popular driver of visitors to the site.
  • Activities to support wellbeing are promoted via youth channel of the Family Information Service called Activities Oxfordshire at and lists 750+ local providers of activities for young people
  • Young people can report their learning destination and request information and support online at over 500 registrations last year were unknowns, new NEET, young people new to the county and more.
  • Dedicated sections on the website for Young Carers, Young People in Care, Young people with Disabilities, all created with support of specialist staff in that area service, service users, providers and young people.
  • Multiple contact, comment and enquiry routes including newsletters, Twitter, Facebook and secure online web-chat during core hours (10am-4pm Mon-Fri). Young people work on the site directly and were involved in design and testing.

Also on the website:

Other useful contacts:

Fire safety in the home

For some help and advice check out the 365alive website.  An initiative from the Oxfordshire fire and rescue service with tips and advice on how to make yourself and your home safety.

The fire service is offering Safer and Wellbeing checks to all foster carers.
The safer and wellbeing check involves a full home fire risk check where they would install free smoke alarms if needed and also do home safety checks.

If you have a child placed with you and would like someone to come out to your home just contact us.

Car seats

Foster carers will need to know information  regarding the law, types of seats and the safe use of car seats.

Up to date information can be found on with further information on the ROSPA website. 

Internet safety

Foster carers worry about the children or young people in their care using the internet. You can find safety tips, advice and resources to help children and young people stay safe on the internet on the following websites UK Safer Internet Centre and Think You Know.

How your payments affect tax and benefits

Have you got a lot of questions about tax and National Insurance? Would you like to know about an easier way to work out your profit? If so, this HMRC e-learning course is for you.

Information about allowances and tax benefits is available from and HM Revenue & Customs.

For more information on finanaces, including Tax, National insurance and Benefits from Fostering Network .

Frequently asked questions

Will I have a say in who I foster?

Ideally all placements of children will be well-matched and planned, but ultimately a foster carer has the right to turn down placements.

What if we don’t get on with the children?

Some children will fit in better with your family than others and some will also take longer to adjust to living in your home. However, if there was a real problem, then you must discuss this with your supervising social worker. The likelihood is that if you are finding things difficult then the child may also be feeling this is not the right place for them.

Hopefully with extra support or training, caring for that child or young person becomes easier and more enjoyable. However, sometimes, it may be best for a child to move to another foster family.

Where can I get independent advice?

The Fostering Network run an Advice and Mediation service. Find your local advice and mediation worker for confidential, independent advice and support to foster carers.

Can I smack a foster child?

No. Foster carers should not smack or administer any corporal punishment to a foster child.

Do foster carers pay income tax?

The current rules mean many UK foster carers now pay no tax on the money they earn from fostering. Foster carers can be exempt from tax on all or most of their fostering income, depending on:

  • how many children they look after
  • whether or not it is a full tax year
  • whether or not there are other foster carers in the same household.

Find more information on the HMRC website

Should I register as being self-employed?

Yes. When you start fostering you must let HM Revenue and Customs know. In other words, you need to register as self-employed. If you don't you may be charged a penalty.

There are three ways to register as self-employed:

A new online tool, Tax for Foster Carers, has been launched to help foster carers register with HM Revenue and Customs as self-employed.  This is useful elearning course to assist our carers with registering as self-employed. The Fostering Network can also support with this issue.

Any of our new foster carers that were approved between 6 April 14 and 5 April 15 need to register with HMRC by 5 October 15. The Fostering Network has assisted in the development of this tool, which features an eLearning course and guide to support foster carers new to self-assessment. You can access the guide and eLearning course via their website

Or talk to adviser fromFosterline.

HM Revenue and Customs website

What about insurance?

When you become a foster carer you must inform both your home and car insurance company in writing. You will need to ensure that you have fully comprehensive car insurance.

The Fostering Network now provides legal protection insurance cover for foster carers and former foster carers who look after a young person up to the age of 21, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. The policy covers legal costs arising as a result of your work as a foster carer only.

What do I do if the child I am caring for is self-harming?

There is some really helpful advice for carers on this subject on the National Self Harm website ‚Äč it has some good ideas about distraction techniques.

What is delegated authority?

Foster carers will often find they need the authority to make certain day to day decisions, such as whether the child they are caring for is allowed to stay overnight with a particular friend, or whether she or he can go on a school trip.

Delegated authority is the term used when the responsibility for making these types of day to day decisions about a child has been passed to the foster carer.

Prior to the child/children being placed there will be a placement planning meeting where delegated authority will be decided, this will include information detailing situations where they will be able to make decisions regarding the child without prior discussion with their social worker.

For more information on delegated authority read information in the foster carers handbook and policy information.

There is also some useful information about decision making from the Fostering Network.


Last reviewed
01 February 2018
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