Becoming a foster carer is a straightforward process. On average, the process should take around 16 to 20 weeks from your first expression of interest until your approval.
Steps to approval
When you first contact us to talk about becoming a foster carer, we will talk to you about why you’d like to foster children and take some details from you in order to add you to our recruitment list.
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) and take a look at your home. If appropriate, we will also discuss with you 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.
An application form will be completed with you and we will then ask for your consent to start your background checks. After this, the social worker will write a report about your discussion and decide whether to proceed with you to the next stage.
You’ll be invited (with your partner or secondary carer) to fostering preparation group training.
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 and 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.
A social worker will complete with you a competency-based assessment. This takes on average between six to eight visits to you and your family and we aim to complete your assessment within 16 weeks.
The assessment will explore your background, experiences, and skills. 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 and childcare law. The social worker will assess your ability to care for children, and with you, decide the number and ages of children you could foster.
Please note, all prospective foster carers and regular adult visitors to the household will be required to have criminal record (DBS) checks undertaken.
With your social worker, you will be invited to attend the Fostering panel which will consider your assessment report. The panel is a group of people with insight, experience and knowledge of the needs of children and young people. It will make a recommendation as to your suitability as a foster carer.
The Assistant Director for Children's Specialist Services, an Agency Decision Maker, will make the final decision about your approval you as a foster carer and how many children you should foster and what age they should be.
When you are approved, you will be allocated a 'supervising social worker', who will support your progress as a carer. We will match you to the children that best suit you and your family.
We take confidentiality seriously. The information that fostering applicants share with us is held securely on a database in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation.
We also undertake an internet screening of all fostering applicants, in accordance with guidance provided by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).