Fostering with South Tyneside Council


Fostering provides children who are unable to live with their birth family a stable, loving home.

South Tyneside is one of a small number of councils delivering the Mockingbird programme - a new way of providing foster care.

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer

If you would like more details about becoming a foster carer you can either:

We are always happy to talk and meet with people who have an interest in foster caring.

For more information about fostering in the North East and the support available, see Foster with North East.

Who can foster

There is no such thing as a typical foster carer.

Foster carers can be:

  • single or married
  • unmarried couples
  • same sex couples
  • employed or unemployed, as long as you are financially stable
  • a home owner or living in rented accommodation
  • parents or without children

Foster carers are as different as the children they care for.

We want to help our foster carers be the best carers possible and to give South Tyneside's children the best start in life. 

If you have a criminal record or caution

Many people who have a criminal record, or who have been cautioned, can be considered as a foster carer.

It will depend on:

  • the seriousness of the offence
  • how long it's been since the crime was committed
  • how you have lived your life since

People with convictions for violent or sexual offences against children cannot foster.

What skills you need 

All you need are life skills and to be able to provide a safe and secure loving home.

Life skills are qualities you will already have developed through life experiences.

The assessment and training process will help identify and develop these qualities.

Find out more about the steps to becoming a foster carer.

How old you need to be

You must be over 25 to foster. This may be younger if you have a previous relationship with the child you are going to foster.

There is no particular upper age limit, but you must be able to care for, and meet the needs of a child or young person.

All applicants will have to do a medical assessment to show they are fit and healthy.

So don't rule yourself out before speaking to us.

Fostering when you have children of your own

You can still foster when you have children of your own.

Your children will be included in the approval process too, as they are so important in the family.

Fostering when you don't own your home

You need to show that you have enough room to care for a child or children in a safe environment, whether you rent or own your home.

If you work full time                 

You can still foster if you work full time.

What is important is that you have the space and time to meet a child's needs.

When not to foster

You will be advised not to complete an application if you have recently faced significant challenges within your family, such as:

  • newly formed partnerships or reconstituted families
  • serious illness
  • pregnancy
  • separation
  • bereavement 

Issues around historical or current legal proceedings (e.g. about offences or financial concerns), will be considered on an individual basis.

Steps to becoming a foster carer

The first steps are fairly informal.

We are always happy to talk and meet with people who have an interest in foster caring to help them decide if it is the right choice for them.

Step 1 - Come along to an Information Evening

Come along to one of our Information Evenings.

This is an informal event where you will hear more details about fostering and will be able to ask questions to fostering staff relevant to your own circumstances.

View our upcoming Fostering Information Sessions.

Step 2 - Home visit

One of our team will visit you at your home at a time convenient to you.

The short visit will last about an hour and will:

  • provide more details of what is involved
  • answer any queries
  • check proof of identity to comply with regulations (such as a passport or birth certificate. Check with us if you are unsure about your proof of identity documentation)

If after these discussions you still want to proceed, you will be required to complete an application form.

Step 3 - Training

South Tyneside view training as a very important part of becoming a foster carer.

Our courses are designed to be friendly, welcoming, informative and enjoyable.

Once an application is approved you will be invited to attend pre-approval training. This is delivered over 3 days and is arranged to best suit the participants.

Each session consists of small groups of potential foster carers. Sessions are run by 2 fostering officers and an experienced foster carer.

This environment gives you the opportunity to:

  • learn about the tasks involved
  • develop the skills you will need
  • talk to people who are already fostering so you can share their experiences

Following pre-approval training, further discussion will take place with potential foster carers regarding progression to the next step.

We have a permanent Foster Carer Development Officer on our team.

All foster carers are expected to undertake regular training facilitated through the Fostering Service.

In addition to this, mainstream carers must complete their Training and Development Standards within twelve months of their registration.

Respite carers have eighteen months to complete this.

All carers have the opportunity to study for the Certificate in Care (level 2) or the Diploma (level 3). This will be funded through the Student Loan process. 

Step 4 - Home study assessment

Following on from the training programme, an individual Home Study Assessment will be completed by a social worker who will visit you in your own home.

This process takes on average 8 visits.

The social worker will help you complete an assessment document detailing your life experiences and relevant skills.

This helps to identify your strengths and any areas you may need to develop.

The completed assessment is then presented by the fostering officer to the 'fostering panel' - a group of independent people from all relevant agencies who make recommendations about the approval to become a foster carer.

The recommendations made are reported to a Senior Manger within Children's Social Care for final approval.

If your assessment is approved, you will become registered as a foster carer.

Step 5 - Ongoing support

As a foster carer with South Tyneside you are part of a team.

Although you will provide day-to-day care for any child who needs looking after, we will involve you and support you at every stage.

If you think it is necessary, you can also have access to other professionals to help you look after a child, such as a psychologist.

You will be teamed up with a fostering officer who, through regular contact, will discuss any potential placements and offer support and guidance whilst a child is with you.

You can also discuss and arrange with your fostering officer any other support and training you think you need.

When a child is placed with you, you will help to put together a care plan for them.

This may include specific responsibilities, such as making sure the child is able to visit her/his family and friends. It may involve working closely with a school, hospital or staff from other organisations.

There is a Foster Carers Liaison Group where you can meet with other carers and share experiences. The group also organise social events and take part in training.

How much you will get paid

Types of payments

All of South Tyneside's Foster Carers receive allowances so they can provide for the children in their care.

You will get a fee as well as the child's allowance. The amount you get depends on the type of foster parent you are.

Please talk to us to learn more about these exciting and rewarding opportunities.

Weekly child allowance 

The weekly child allowance to Foster Carers varies depending on the age of the child. 

Per week, Foster Carers will get:

  • £159 for children aged 0 to 4
  • £175 for children aged 5 to 10
  • £199 for children aged 11 to 15
  • £233 for children aged 16 to 17

Payment for skills

We offer 'Payment for Skills'.

This means the more experience and qualifications carers gain, the more they will be paid. 

This means that children are supported by skilled, motivated and rewarded carers.

You will get:

  • a competitive weekly skills fee, and
  • a weekly maintenance allowance

You will also be supported to develop a range of skills that meet the needs of the children you care for.

Significant opportunities for training and development are offered to all carers through the Foster Carer Training programme.

Access is provided to the Local Safeguarding Children's Board training sessions and to qualifications in Care, Counselling and Health and Social Care.

Overview of payments and skills

There are four levels of foster carers (levels 1 to 4).

All levels receive a weekly maintenance allowance.

Levels 2, 3 and 4 also receive a weekly skills fee.

See below for an overview of the skills, placement expectations and financial support for each level. 

Level 1 overview
  • Skills: 
    • Have some experience of childcare e.g. parenting / have a significant relationship with a named child. 
  • Financial support:
    • Weekly maintenance allowance per child.
Level 2 overview
  • Skills:
    • Have experience of childcare e.g. parenting / looking after other people's children / paid or voluntary work in childcare.
  • Placement expectations:
    • Medium risk.
    • Caring for a young person for a set period of time.
    • Challenging behaviour that is manageable.
  • Financial support:
    • Weekly maintenance allowance per child.
    • Weekly skills fee - £250 per child.
Level 3 overview
  • Skills:
    • Significant childcare experience or related experience e.g. nursing, youth work, teaching.
  • Placement expectations:
    • Medium to high risk.
    • Must be able to take children with more complex needs and undertake more challenging tasks. This may include issues such as child sexual exploitation, physical / verbal aggression, school refusal, offending behaviour etc.
  • Financial support:
    • Weekly maintenance allowance per child.
    • Weekly skills fee - £350 per child.
Level 4 overview
  • Skills:
    • Significant formal childcare experience e.g. previous fostering (2 years minimum including children with complex needs) / employment in childcare. 
  • Placement expectations:
    • Highest risk.
    • Emergency placements.
    • One approved carer in the household must have a full time commitment to fostering with no other paid work commitments outside the fostering service. 
  • Financial support:
    • Weekly maintenance allowance per child
    • Weekly skills fee - £450 per child

What support is available

South Tyneside Fostering Service offers support to its carers 24 hours per day.

Our carers enjoy the benefits of a well established and supportive foster care community.

We have an active Foster Care Liaison Group who meet regularly with staff.

They organise various activities throughout the year for the carers and the children they look after.

They also offer support to other carers and can act as representatives to take issues forward.

Help with equipment

There is a set up grant available to allow you to purchase the equipment you need for a child in placement.

This is a one off payment.

Part of the weekly allowance provided is to purchase additional / replacement items when needed.

Long-term fostering

Many children across the UK live with their foster families for many years, and sometimes for the whole of their childhood and beyond.

Until 2015, long-term fostering had no legal status. Legislation now strengthens the importance of foster care as a permanent option.

Long-term foster care usually means that the care plan for the child or children, is to remain in a specific fostering placement.

This is usually until they reach adulthood and leaving care, and certainly for the foreseeable future.

Children coming into long-term fostering placements need a stable, solid and loving home environment where they can feel truly settled and at ease.

They may have already had the experience of being in several foster families, or they may have been in a children's care home.

What the difference is between long-term fostering and adoption

Long-term fostering allows a child or young person to maintain contact with their birth family, if it is felt to be in their best interest.

This may only be limited contact but maintains a link with the child's family, which may be important to them and their development.

Adoption gives adoptive parents a legal right.

With long-term fostering, the Council remains legally responsible.

If long term fostering is right for you

If you could provide a safe and loving home, give children a better future and would like to gain qualifications, fostering could be for you.

Foster carers receive a fee for fostering as well as a weekly allowance for the child. 

Many carers choose to foster long term because they want to invest in young people and see them grow up.

Long-term foster care allows children and young people long-term emotional security and a secure base. This is essential to them fulfilling their potential.

For many families long-term fostering suits them better because it allows children, their carers and their families to develop strong and enduring relationships and manage struggles along the way as families usually do.

The process to be a long-term foster carer is the same as for any other foster carer.

Children who need long-term foster care are matched carefully with families.

There is a period of settling-in time before formal matching takes place. This allows everyone to feel confident that a long-term match is the right thing to do.

Find out more about fostering with us

Contact with a child's birth parents

In most cases and when it's safe, contact between children and their birth families is encouraged.

This is because the experience of separation from their birth parents is usually very traumatic for children.

How to find out more

Fostering Information Sessions

If you've ever thought about fostering, come and join us for an informal chat at one of our information evenings.

In the sessions, our fostering social workers will explain all about the application process, support and training that you will receive and what life is like as a foster carer. 

You will also have the opportunity to meet one of our current foster carers who will share their experiences and be happy to answer any questions.

The sessions take place monthly at 25-27 Marketplace, South Shields, NE33 1JF.

November sessions

Date: Thursday 16 November 2023

Time: 6pm to 7pm

Book a place - Thursday 16 November

December sessions

Date: Thursday 14 December 2023

Time: 6pm to 7pm

Book a place - Thursday 14 December

We look forward to seeing you there.

If you're interested in becoming a foster carer

If you would like more details about becoming a foster carer you can either:

We are always happy to talk and meet with people who have an interest in foster caring.

For more information about fostering in the North East and the support available, see Foster with North East.

You can also view our Fostering with South Tyneside Facebook page.