Reader Question: My husband and I want to foster children in France, but we are not French citizens (we have a Brexit WA card). Are we still able to and how do we start the process if so?
Foster families in France are known as familles d'accueil or assistants familiaux and in many ways are treated as state workers.
In most cases, foster families are expected to look after children on a ‘long-term’ basis, but in certain urgent cases, short-term foster families are also required.
Those who foster children are paid a salary equivalent to at least the monthly minimum wage in France (before social security deductions) per child they look after, with additional payments made for exceptional circumstances.
Do you need to be French to foster a child in France?
To become a famille d’accueil, it is not necessary to be a French citizen.
Anyone with either French or EU/EEA citizenship, or holding a valid residency permit in France allowing them to work can apply. This includes the Brexit WA card.
However, you must be proficient in French to foster a child. If a non-native, your language level will be assessed during the interview process with social services.
Fostering is arranged through each department’s service de protection maternelle et infantile (PMI). It is highly recommended to contact this service and attend its open meetings on fostering before beginning any application.
You can find your local PMI online by typing your department’s name followed by service de protection maternelle et infantile into a search engine such as Google.
What else is required?
Alongside a valid residency permit, a number of other documents are required.
These include a casier judiciaire check (to show that you do not have any record of offences against children) for you and anyone else who will be living in your home, as well as a health examination proving you are well enough to look after foster children. The latter will be arranged after you submit your application.
If you have previous experience in fostering, or you have a diploma/degree in early ages childcare, childcare work, or special needs education, you may be exempt from further training.
If you do not have such a qualification you will be required to undertake a 60-hour training course in the two months prior to the first foster child arriving at your home.
Regular top-up training is given after this.
You can apply via Cerfa form number 13395-02 (downloadable here), which can be given directly to your local PMI service, or sent to them via a lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception (registered post letter with reception slip).
If your initial application is accepted, social workers will conduct at least one interview with you with at least one visit to your home, before you are given a child to foster.
What happens after my approval?
Within four months of your application, if approved, you should receive a letter confirming your status as a famille d’accueil.
This will include information on how many foster children under the age of 21 you can take in (it is usually limited to three).
If you have not received a reply within this time, you are theoretically accepted, but you should contact your PMI to confirm this.
If you do not pass your application, you will receive a letter notifying you of the reasons why, with a chance to appeal the decision.
Once approved, your eligibility to be a foster parent lasts for five years after which time you must apply again (the PMI will send you a re-application form).