Our dedicated team of social workers have many years experience in guiding prospective foster carers through the fostering process and will ensure foster carers have access to all the information and support they need, from initial application through to final approval and beyond.
We will complete the process from receipt of your application (see point 3 below) to final decision within 8 months, however we always aim to complete this well within the 8 months period.
The fostering process
1) Initial enquiry and home visit
When we receive your enquiry our Recruitment Officer will ring you to discuss your enquiry further. If you and the Recruitment Officer are happy to proceed at this stage, we'll arrange for you to attend an information event or, if required, a home visit to discuss fostering with you in more detail. You'll learn more about the role of fostering for you and your family and we'll find out why you want to foster. After this, you'll be given time to consider whether fostering is right for you and you'll have the dates of the next available ‘skills to foster’ training to book on to if you wish to proceed.
2) Preparation training
If after the information session or initial visit we feel we can proceed, you'll be invited to attend a 3-day training course run by our social workers, with the support of experienced foster carers who provide more details about the role of foster carers and the needs of children in their care. You'll meet other prospective foster carers as well as people who have already fostered.
3) Application form and statutory checks (part 1 of the assessment)
You'll have received an essential information form at the information session or home visit. Once you have completed the ‘skills to foster’ training and made the informed choice to continue with your application, you'll submit the essential information and consent form. This is when the assessment formally begins and we'll carry out some further checks. These include a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB) to ensure you have no criminal convictions which would exclude you from fostering. Other checks include personal references, digital/media searches, references from other agencies such as social services, your mortgage provider or landlord and your employer if relevant. You’ll also be required to complete a full medical check.
4) Assessment process (part 2 of the assessment)
During the assessment process, your allocated social worker will spend more time with you at your home, getting to know you better and exploring your life story, your relationships and your family history. Your social worker will complete a ‘skills to foster’ assessment, which will include relevant information, such as an insight into the type of family life you'll be able to offer a child and your views on raising a child. We'll need to speak with your children including your adult children who no longer live at home. You'll be asked to check and sign this report before it is sent to the fostering panel.
5) Fostering panel
The fostering panel is made up of independent individuals from a range of professions who have worked with children or have personal experience of fostering. The panel may include someone who has previously fostered, a medical advisor, local councillor and a social worker. An independent chairperson will preside over the meeting. The panel will read the ‘skills to foster’ assessment and may ask you questions. They'll consider the information provided and make a recommendation on your suitability to foster. The final decision is made by the agency decision maker within the council, usually within 7 days.
6) Matching children to foster carers
You're finally ready to be matched with a child. Your supervising social worker and the duty social worker will have an awareness of your matching needs based on your completed assessment. When the duty worker receives a referral for a child or children needing a placement they'll consider the child's needs and your suitability to meet them.
We'll then contact you to discuss your views on the placement match and you'll have the opportunity to ask any questions before the placement is agreed.
More about the support available in fostering.