Fostering can change a child’s story

Join us as a foster carer and change a child’s story.

Start your rewarding career with us today

We urgently need foster carers in Oxfordshire. Fostering is one of the most rewarding things you can do. There are lots of personal benefits, including the difference you can make to a child.

By fostering with us, you’re keeping children in their local area. This helps them to continue in their educational setting, keep friendships and maintain family connections. 

We offer a comprehensive training and support package, as well as competitive pay and benefits. To help you make the transition to foster carer, we’re offering a welcome payment of £1,500 to part-time and full-time foster carers that apply.

You will become part of a family of foster carers and professionals who are passionate about improving the outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children.

Foster with us and make a real difference to an Oxfordshire child.

Could you foster?

Answer some simple questions to check you’ve got what you need to take the first step.

Fostering with us

There is no such thing as a typical foster carer. They come from all walks of life. Like the children they look after, carers come from a variety of different backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if you are young, old, single, a couple, have children or don’t, you could still foster and help transform a child’s life

We need a diverse range of people with different skills and qualities to come forward to ensure that our children remain in Oxfordshire close to their families, friends, schools and the things that are important to them.

Change a child’s story

Fostering is a way of providing a nurturing and safe environment for somebody else’s child in your own home when they are unable to live with their birth family.

Foster children vary in age from babies to teenagers. Every child’s story is different. Our foster carers look after these children by offering them a place to call home for as long as they need it.

Your agency of choice

By fostering with a local authority, you are fostering directly with the services responsible for children in care within that county.

We have increased fees paid to foster carers by introducing a skills-related scheme. You will have better access to the professionals involved with a child in care and be linked in with support groups and specialised training. You will become part of a family of foster carers and professionals who are passionate about improving the outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children.

“I chose to foster with Oxfordshire County Council because it’s where I live - it’s my community. I wanted to work with the council, as I knew the backup would be there, with training and quality staff, and I would be able to access support easily. Also, the thought of having a child far away from their local area worried us. We knew by fostering with the council, we would be helping a child local to the Oxfordshire area.”

Foster carer, Oxfordshire

Meet some of our amazing foster carers

See some of our foster carers and find out if fostering could be for you.

Video transcript

Sue- You’re not going to save the world, cause you’re not, you’re going to change someone’s life.

David-You have difficulties remembering their birthdays.

Ilse- I wasn’t really sure whether you could be a foster carer if you were, you know, a single person. Turns out you can!

Mavis- If you’ve got space, don’t hesitate because you will get the support, you’ll get the help that you need in order to help them get along.

Rosalind - The assessment process is, it’s a little bit like a series of interviews which might sound a bit formal but you’ll be assigned a social worker who will come round to your house and you’ll spend time together kind of exploring, you know, about fostering. So we want to kind of get to know all about you really. So we will perhaps come and see you five or six times. And each time we’ll kind of let you know what we are going to be chatting about beforehand. Often people might find it a bit intrusive but it’s really important that we do a really robust and thorough assessment. You know, we’re placing looked after children with carers so we need to know as much as we can about their background and what’s kind of made them want to foster so that we can really understand their strengths and their skills so we can best place the child with them so we give the placement the best chance of success. 

We have a really wide range of carers, you know; we have single carers, we have same sex couples, we have families who are fostering with grown up children or their own younger biological children. We’ve got people who work full time who are offering care, we’ve got people who perhaps one person is at home. Everybody wants to provide care for the child and that’s what they all have in common.

Laura: My name is Laura, I’m a single mum and I’ve been fostering for seven years. I was probably about eight when my mum started fostering, so I’ve grown up living at home with foster children living with us; so, it’s been part of my life really and I always thought when I was older that I’d like to be a foster carer as well. For the last, you know, quite a few years I’ve had teenagers come. Teenagers are going through a difficult time and so I think if you can try and relate to how they’re feeling and maybe sort of think back putting yourself in that situation, I think that helps and I think they like that as well.

Sam: We’re Sam and Paul and we’ve been fostering disabled children for five years. 
I have a disabled brother and I think that gives you some interaction with the world of foster carers and social work. Possibly that’s where it came from, cause he used to have short breaks and he went to a foster carer for one weekend a month and he had a lovely time there and they were lovely people. 

I don’t think you need any experience of working or being with disabled children in order to foster disabled children because Oxfordshire give you a lot of training and support and whenever we wanted anything, we would ask for it and we were always given, you know, a positive response. A lot of people are scared of disabled children because they, because there’s an unknown there. You need to be accepting don’t you, of the child.

Paul: You need to be accepting of what they are because they come formed in some way already and they have, they have developed into a direction.

Sam: With all fostering, the rewards you get is when you see the progress of the children; when you see them develop, when you see, you know, the difference that you’ve made to their lives and with disabled children that can be extra special because when they make a step of progress or development, and it’s often you know, an even bigger joy, yeah.

Paul: Yeah, it’s really great to see the progress.

Sam: The needs of any child are different and with a disabled child those needs may fall in a different area to a non-disabled child’s. But you know, they’re the same as other children in that they will always be a different spectrum of needs with each child and a foster carer will need to learn about those needs when they foster that child. You might have a child that comes with you, there’s lots of things that you need to improve on, lots of things that you need to change but you just choose one small thing at a time and try to work on changing that.

Paul: I guess if you, if you consider it but are a bit afraid you could consider relief care first because that is, yeah, less intensive I guess, or at least it’s a commitment for a shorter time and then I’m sure you’ll find that it’s not as scary as you might think.
If you have a space and the time to do it then go for it. It’s really good, it is really rewarding. Absolutely. 

Sue: We’re Sue and Kev and we’ve been fostering for 19 years. I think the quality you have to, well have to have is good. You have to realise that kids don’t want money, they don’t want things, they just want love and they want attention. They want your time. These kids that walk in the door, don’t know us, don’t know to trust us, they don’t know that we’re going to make good decisions for them. So you’ve got to spend more time than you would normally in order to do things. Letting the child know what’s going to go on, what’s going to be expected so that they’re not going to have big surprises because big surprises in their, maybe, previous lives and situations might have been scary.

Over the years there’s been loads and loads of training, I’ve done some really good courses that have been really useful. All of these things keep the fostering at the forefront of your mind, so you don’t get complacent. So, the more training you go on the more you’re thinking ‘right, I can deal with that, that way or I’ll do this, this way’. It’s really useful. So yeah, that’s why we’ve got that one, everything is going to be OK.

Bethan: Because of all the people’s lives that they’ve made a difference to. It’s, you know, it makes them heroes. Patience, a lot of patience. A kind heart. Determination, you’ve got to have a lot of determination for that child. Yeah. They are, I look up to them.
Kev: It does take work, it takes a lot of work some of them. Some of them come and they just fit in and they’re very easy, but others come and they test you. They always test to see whether or not you actually can look after them. That could put people off, but don’t let it because you can, there’s a lot of support if you need it and there’s always someone you can talk to, to give advice. 

Ilse: My name’s Ilse, I’m a single foster carer and I’ve been fostering almost 9 years. They become so engrained in your whole family life that, you know, one day they walk in a stranger and before you know it they live here and they know where to get a cup from and they know how to make their own cereal. They know this house like it’s their own, you know, and that’s that moment you think “Oh wow, when did you stop being a stranger and becoming a complete part of this family”. You know, those are the really good moments. You have to be open I think and really be able to just give everything, you know, give all you’ve got and I mean you have to be very patient. Extremely patient. And fun, we have a lot of fun in this house.

Sometimes when children come into foster care, their self-esteem is sort of rock bottom. Their faces are withdrawn, and you know, what you really want to do is just scoop them up and hug them and feed them really nice food and that isn’t necessarily what they want. The benefits of, of seeing them grow into confident children are that they will ask for things, they shine, they lift their chins up and become really confident little people. And when it does happen, they kind of blossom. Those are the moments when you think “Wow, we are doing a really good job”.

Shaniya: When foster children first arrive, the way to make them feel welcome to your home, you might play games with them, so they slowly feel more welcome. If they’re shy just make them laugh, it always works. The good thing a bout having other foster children in the family is that, if they’re feeling sad about things, you can like relate to them and comfort them and say that it’s not all bad. Better things are coming your way and stuff. 

David: Hi we’re David and Jill, we’re foster carers short term and have been fostering for two and a half years. Our children were all in favour of us fostering. Two of them were still at home actually when we started partly because the approval process was quicker than we expected. Our daughter loved that she has two years with us while we were fostering. And for all our children it’s been a really positive experience.

Jill: And then yeah, we decided that it really was what we were interested in and we wanted to take that to the next level so David decided he would cut down his working hours. So, he’s just working 2 days a week. 

David: So, I work as a fusion scientist 2 days a week, I approve foster carers roughly one day a week and nine days a week I foster.  

Jill: The reality of it, yeah, that it’s actually happened, we’re fostering, and we’ve got these amazing little people in our home. You know, we couldn’t have foreseen that really. Yeah just exciting times and each day is new and exciting if a little tiring at times. For us it’s been such an amazing experience so if it’s something that you feel would be right for you then I would go for it. And actually we’ve found when we did the training course that there was a whole range of people and a whole range of different situations and all of them were able to think about fostering whether they’ve got a big house or a small house, already got a large family or no family, single parents and couples. Yeah, I would just say go for it really.

Mavis: We’re Mavis and Neil and we’ve been fostering for 3 years now. We’ve got 3 children and we have a young unaccompanied minor with us who’s 15 years old. He’s been with us for about months now, he came over from South Sudan. Uh, quite, um traumatic really, the journey for him. He’s doing well, he’s wanting to learn the language and get on with his life. He calls me ‘Mum’ bless him. He says I remind him of his mum. So um, I’m really pleased that he’s pleased and hopefully we can offer him what he needs to actually grow up into, you know, a terrific young man.

One of the biggest myths I came across, um before I joined really, was people thinking, I even thought that kids that come in foster care, in our care are all children with behaviour or abusive situations. It’s not about that, it’s just kids who have been in an unfortunate situation and have to come into care because of that situation.

You don’t have to have a kid that has drama per say. You meet the child, talk to your social worker; they’ll tell you all about the child before, you know, you even meet them. And then you will get an opportunity to meet them with your own child to ask them questions so that you’re all comfortable with having that person in your home before they actually come. 

Neil: I don’t really know what to expect. What I can say is very pleased I took the plunge. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been an amazing challenge. It hasn’t been uh, it hasn’t been very difficult for me and my family. As a matter of fact, it’s been a blessing for all of us. Our children have grown up always having an older sibling you could say. I believe they have enjoyed this as much as me and my wife have.

Mavis: I’d say, if you’ve got the space in your heart and the space in your home, don’t hesitate about fostering because honestly you, there is one child out there that you can make a huge difference in their lives.

What do you need?

You need be willing to develop new skills and able to work with a child’s family, social workers and other professional agencies as part of a child-focused team.

As a carer you will need sensitivity, flexibility and an ability to understand the challenging behaviour children may display at times. It takes someone with determination, a big heart and patience to work through the good and the difficult times. With the dedication to make a positive and long lasting difference to the children and young people you foster.

Most importantly you need to have enough time in your life and space in your home to care for a child or teenager.

Can you answer yes to the following questions? If you can you could have what it takes to be a foster carer:

  • Do you have a spare room?
  • Do you have the time and energy to invest in a child?
  • Can you welcome a child into your own home and make them feel part of your family?
  • Are you flexible and understanding?
  • Are you up for a challenge, resilient and have determination?
  • Do you want to work with us and be part of a professional team dedicated team?

Allowances and benefits

Allowances and additional fees for foster carers

Foster carers are paid allowances, expenses and a skills payment when applicable. The skills payments are based on the additional skills, experience and training, and the type of fostering you choose

How much will I get paid?

Foster carers receive an allowance to support the cost of looking after a child. 

Weekly allowance
Age of child Weekly allowance for 2021 to March 2022 per child
0-4 £160
5-10 £171
11-15 £212
16-18 £259

Payment for skills

Foster carers with additional skills and competencies receive extra payment. The payment is based on their experience and training. The scheme operates on four payment bands:

Additional fees
Skill level Additional fee per week
Level 1 None. Receive the normal weekly allowance only (as above)
Level 2 £152
Level 3 £202 for a child 0-10
£222 for a child 11-18
Level 4 £365 for a child 3-11
  • Level 2 – carers have completed a number of training courses.
  • Level 3 – caring for children with complex needs.
  • Level 4 is specific to our specialist fostering schemes

Additional allowances 

In addition to a weekly payment, carers receive the following financial support:

  • Festivity, birthday and holiday allowances
  • Essential fostering equipment
  • Emergency clothing allowance
  • Mileage and travel expenses
  • Long service bonus

For more detailed information on allowances please see our allowances guidance booklet (pdf format, 715Kb).

Supporting foster carers

Foster carers are given support, training and development opportunities that are vital to undertake this role effectively. We offer you a fostering service all under one roof providing:

  • A recruitment team who will guide you through your foster carer journey
  • Your own social worker
  • A social worker for the child
  • 24/7 telephone help line
  • A variety of local training courses
  • The virtual school for education, learning, advice and support
  • Extensive therapeutic support whenever you need it
  • Regular local support groups
  • Peer support within your local fostering network

Discounts and benefits

We have joined leisure providers to access activities at affordable rates. 

A range of benefits is offered including:

  • leisure centre discounts
  • Oxford United match tickets and other football events
  • Max card, discounts to many attractions across the country
  • trips and events organised by the Oxfordshire Foster Care Association (OFCA)
  • Fostering Network membership fees which provides further discounted days out and holidays.

The fostering journey

There are nine steps on your journey to becoming a foster carer

Step 1: Contact us

  • You can do this by phone, online form or from our Facebook page.
  • Don’t worry you may have some queries or concerns, but we are happy to answer any questions at all.

Step 2: Enquiry

  • We will take some details from you and have a chat about your initial thoughts, then if you feel ready to proceed, we will talk you through the next steps.

Step 3: Initial home visit

  • One of our recruitment team will visit you at home.
  • We will discuss your expectations, your life experience and give you lots more information so we can think if this is the right time to get started with your application.

Step 4: Application form

  • Once we have received your completed application form you will be assigned a social worker to do your assessment.

Step 5: Assessment

  • This can take anywhere between 4 and 6 months.
  • Your social worker visits you regularly so they can get to know your family.
  • By getting to know you we will be able to choose the type of fostering that will fit in with your family.

Step 6: Skills to foster

  • While the assessment is going on, you’ll be invited to attend training.
  • It is designed to teach you the skills needed to be ready to foster and to give you guidance and advice.
  • Its fun, informative and gives you an idea of what lies ahead.

Step 7: Recommendation report

  • At the end of the assessment, your social worker writes a report that recommends you as a foster carer to the fostering panel.

Step 8: Fostering panel

  • The panel is a group of educational and care professionals, who will make a recommendation for your approval.
  • You can attend along with your social worker.

Step 9: Approval and first placement

  • Once approved you will be ready for your first placement. Your allocated social worker will continue to support you and start to match you with a child.

Interested in fostering?

Not sure yet? Chat on Facebook Messenger, take a look at our fostering brochure (pdf format, 2Mb) and if you think you are ready fill in an initial enquiry form.

Oxfordshire Treatment Foster Care (OTFC)

 We are also looking for carers who have experience of caring for adolescents, and who can build relationships with young people that support their development and acknowledge and balance risk-taking.

We need you to be flexible and available during the daytime to attend meetings and support a young person accessing education.

We need foster carers who are motivated to build strong relationships with adolescents, who are resilient and prepared to go the extra mile when teens take risks and present challenges and who are passionate about meeting the needs of vulnerable young people.

Our offer:

  • A level 4 skills fee of £700 per week plus the maintenance allowance and 2 weeks paid holiday.
  • Training in therapeutic approaches to parenting adolescents, including how to support managing risky behaviour and de-escalation strategies. 
  • A weekly supervision group for carers
  • Daily support from the OTFC team when needed
  • Support with the education provision
  • Direct work with the young person
  • Consultation with a clinical psychologist
  • Access to out of hours 24/7 senior manager on call.  

Full details can be found on our website.