The Application Process
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Foster carers support some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK and must first pass a thorough application process.
The fostering application process usually takes 3-4 months to complete. Each assessment is slightly different as each family is different, but all assessments must follow a similar course. Here we break down the stages step-by-step, so you know what to expect.
To speak with a member of our fostering team, call 0800 5 677 677 or complete our short enquiry form and we will call you back.
Stages of the Fostering Journey
The first step on the foster carer journey is to make an enquiry. This is usually an informal chat on the phone where we’ll talk about your motivations to foster and how you see this working for you. If you’re ready, we can take you through our telephone questionnaire to help find out if we’re the right fit for you and vice versa.
It’s important you feel comfortable with the agency you foster with. You need to know what support you will have, how your fostering allowance will work and what training you will access as a foster carer. We’ll provide all this information and answer any questions you have at this stage. If everyone is happy to move forward, we’ll book a home visit.
The foster carer home visit is completed by one of our supervising social workers. The home visit is to help us (and you) determine if you are ready to begin a fostering assessment. We’ll discuss the expectations on foster carers such as recordings and transporting children to/from school and other appointments. We’ll also talk about the expectations you should have of us including the support we offer, fostering allowances and the training we provide.
At this stage it’s important that nothing is left on the table. If we get 2 months into an assessment and it comes to light that you’ve had social services involvement or a criminal record which you didn’t disclose, this will have an impact on the process and may even stop the fostering assessment.
After the visit is complete, you will have a good idea of whether fostering is right for you at this time. If you’re happy to proceed, we’ll send you an application form to complete. Once you complete and return the form, that is when your fostering assessment formally begins.
We will allocate you with a fully qualified social worker to complete your fostering assessment. This is the longest part of the process. Your assessor will arrange to visit you 6-12 times to complete a written assessment on your capacity to foster. We will also need to carry out some other checks and enrol you on preparation training.
Checks and References
As part of the application and assessment process, we must complete Local Authority checks and DBS checks on your behalf. You will also undergo a medical check by your doctor. Family Care cover the costs of these checks. We’ll also ask you to submit personal references and employment references.
Skills to Foster Training
The Skills to Foster™ is a 2-day training course that focuses on the practical, day-to-day skills you will need as a foster carer. You’ll be joined by others who are also applying to foster, and together we will cover a range of topics including Safer Caring, Caring for Others and Transitions.
After completing the training, you should have a good understanding of what it’s like to be a foster carer. It probably won’t be long before your assessment report is presented at panel for a recommendation.
You will be accompanied by your assessor to attend panel. Panel consists of a Chair, Vice-Chair and at least five independent panel members. These independent professionals will have reviewed your report in the weeks prior and will make a recommendation on whether you should be approved to foster.
That recommendation is then passed to our agency decision maker, who is also independent of Family Care and makes the decision on your approval. Assuming the recommendation is positive, your fostering journey is about to begin.
You will be issued with an approval notice that details what types of fostering you are approved for. A typical notice looks something like this; “Approved to foster children of any gender, ages 0-18, short term, long term, emergency, respite.
At this stage you will be allocated with your own supervising social worker who supports you throughout your fostering career.
Once you are approved, we’ll make local authorities aware of your availability and start looking for matches for you. How quickly that happens depends of a number of factors such as the referrals we receive for your area, your skills and experience, and your flexibility. It’s uncommon for our newly approved foster families to wait more than two months for their first placement.