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Becoming a foster carer – step by step guide

Little boy playing with toy dinosaur.

We know people think about fostering for many years before taking that first step on their journey towards becoming a foster carer. That's why we value everyone who enquires about becoming a foster carer with us.

If you apply to foster with us, we aim for the whole experience to take no longer than 6 months and sometimes we can fast track applications to be done within 4 months.

However long it takes, we will be with you every step of the way, nurturing your interest and equipping you for the journey ahead.

Step 1 – get in touch

We know how hard it is to take the first step, so we are always delighted to hear from you; whether you are at the beginning of thinking about fostering or have made your decision and are raring to get going.

All our workers are highly experienced in fostering and they are super friendly, so there is no need to worry. We also promise not to put any pressure on you, fostering is a lifestyle choice and we aim to provide you with all the information you need to decide if it is right for you and your family at this time.

There are many ways to get in touch:

Step 2 – we visit your home

Once we have chatted with you about fostering and you feel ready to take a step further, we will arrange to visit you in your home. We'll talk in more detail about fostering and provide you with more comprehensive information and explore things further.

This visit allows us to find out about you and your individual circumstances and allows you to ask us anything and everything about fostering.

We can also arrange for you to talk to one of our existing foster carers if you would like, so they can give you the real life low down on fostering. We have many carers who are happy to do this and love to share their fostering experiences.

Step 3 – apply to be a foster carer

Once you feel ready to start your fostering journey, you will need to complete an application form.

We'll collect this from you in person to ensure your information stays safe.

Step 4 – complete the assessment and training

This step is completed in two stages. Sometimes we can do both stages at the same time to speed things up.

Stage 1 - during this stage we will undertake what are known as statutory checks, this includes a DBS, medical and references. You would usually attend a 3-day preparation training course. This is currently provided using Zoom so we are doing 6 shorter sessions of training.

During the training you will meet other applicants and start to really understand the fostering role. Here are some quotes from people who have completed their training with us:

  • "It was really good. The whole training has been great."
  • "It was great to meet an experienced foster carer and hear from her."
  • "Listening to Tammi was great and we really liked the video, gave us a bigger insight on things, great training night yet again and loving it."

Stage 2 - a social worker will visit you individually and as a family to get to know you. They will spend time understanding your personal history and what skills and qualities you bring to the fostering role. This part can feel a bit intrusive as we will ask lots of questions, but it is really important we get to know you well. It will help us find the right child to be matched with you and your family.

Some people really enjoy this stage, taking the time and being able to reflect on their life history. Remember we will be with you supporting you every step of the way.

Here is a quote from someone who is near the end of their assessment which was done virtually due to COVID-19:"It's been a really good process. Bit strange at first over Skype but our social worker has been great. Really feeling the love for Rochdale Council. Our friend recommended them to us and so glad we went with them to apply for fostering. The support has been amazing!"

Step 5 – go to panel

Your assessing social worker will write a report, outlining your skills and any areas where you need more training or support. You'll be able to see this report and add your own comments before it's submitted to the panel.

The fostering panel is a group of professional people, some of them independent from us, who carefully read your assessment and then invite you and your assessing social worker to attend a panel meeting together. You might be asked a few questions. You should also find out on the day whether the panel intends to make a recommendation of approval to the Agency Decision Maker who's a senior member of our fostering staff.

The Agency Decision Maker will consider all the information and the panel's recommendation and make a decision about approval. You'll be informed of this decision by phone within 2 days and it will be confirmed to you in writing within 7 days.

Step 6 – welcome to Rochdale - you are now a foster carer!

The worker who has done your assessment and got to know you really well, will be your supervising social worker throughout your first year of fostering. We do this because we feel it's important you have this ongoing relationship and stability while you adjust to your new role and take your first placement.

We also run a specific support group for newly approved foster carers in that first year of approval. You can then make links with people experiencing things at the same time as you and can support each other through that shared experience.

Watch videos about our fostering process

Tracey explains the fostering process video - a member of our fostering recruitment team explains the fostering process from enquiry to approval.

Watch Tracey explain the fostering process video on YouTube (4mins 28secs)

Our Fostering Process video
- a short video about each step of the approval process and how we support you through it. 


Watch the fostering process video on YouTube (1min 54secs)


0300 303 1000

Phone: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

Find the Fostering Team on a map

Fostering Team
Fashion Corner
57-59 Drake Street
Rochdale OL16 1PA

Make a fostering enquiry