Fostering process

Becoming a foster carer is a straightforward process. It will be quicker if you have fostered before and take longer if you have not.

On average, the process should take around 16-20 weeks from your first expression of interest until your approval.

Steps to approval

We will work closely with you at each step to ensure your fostering journey starts smoothly.

  1. Get in touch
  2. Home visit
  3. Application form
  4. Preparation training course
  5. Formal assessment
  6. Panel and approval

Get in touch

The first step is to contact us about becoming a foster parent. We will then talk to you about why you’d like to foster children and take some details so we can add you to our recruitment list.

Home visit

One of our social workers will arrange a visit with you in your home. This meeting is an opportunity for us to:

  • Meet you and your family
  • Learn more about you
  • Explore your personal qualities and those of your partner, if you have one
  • Take a look at your home

If appropriate, we will also discuss how you think you would work with children who have been neglected and abused and who present challenging behaviour, and how you think fostering will affect your life.

After this, the social worker will write a report about your discussion and decide whether to proceed with you to the next stage.

Application form

An application form will be completed with you, and we will then ask for your consent to start your background checks and references.

These include a criminal record DBS check, medical and local authority checks.

Preparation training course

You will be invited to a three-day fostering preparation group training. If you have a partner or secondary carer, they will be invited too.

This training is also part of your assessment and will prepare you to become a foster carer. It will cover issues such as:

  • Working with the child's family
  • Child development
  • Managing challenging behaviour
  • Promoting the education and health of children
  • Preparing young people for leaving care

The training session will also give you the opportunity to meet other foster carers and potential foster carers, as well as our social workers.

Formal assessment

A social worker will complete a competency-based assessment with you. This takes around six to eight visits to you and your family, and we aim to complete your assessment within 12 weeks.

The assessment will explore your background, experiences, skills, and current routines and capacity. In addition, you’ll have the chance to learn more about fostering, such as:

  • What it can be like to look after a child who has been abused
  • Managing challenging behaviour
  • Working with birth parents
  • Childcare law

The social worker will assess your ability to care for children and decide with you the number, gender and ages of children you could foster.

Please note, all prospective foster parents and regular adult visitors to the household will be required to have criminal record DBS checks undertaken.

Panel and approval

With your social worker, you will be invited to attend the Fostering panel. The panel is a group of people with insight, experience and knowledge of the needs of children and young people. It will consider your assessment report and make a recommendation as to your suitability as a foster parent.

The Assistant Director for Children's Services, an Agency Decision Maker, will make the final decision about your approval as a foster carer and how many children you should foster and what age they should be.

Post-approval steps

When you are approved, you will be allocated a supervising social worker. They will support your progress as a carer.

We will match you to the children that best suit you and your family, and share with you all the information we have about the child before placing them with you.

Information security

We take confidentiality seriously. The information that fostering applicants share with us is held securely on a database in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

We also undertake an internet screening of all fostering applicants, in accordance with guidance provided by the Coram British Association for Adoption and Fostering (Coram-BBAAF).