We understand that you may feel apprehensive about the fostering process, but we would like to assure you that we will guide and support you every step of the way.
To put your mind at ease we've put together the below guide so you can find out more about each step from your first enquiry up to approval.
If you are interested in learning more about fostering you can enquire to become a foster carer by filling in either our online enquiry form on our website, sending us a message on our Facebook page or by calling us on 01908 587666.
If you are ready for a phone call a member of our local team will aim to call you within 48 hours to complete our initial screening form. This is an opportunity to discuss the basic requirements such as whether you have a spare bedroom available for fostering and to answer any initial questions you may have.
Within seven days of your phone call you will receive an information pack through the post or we can send out an information pack via email straight away, whichever you prefer, which gives you details about fostering with us, what support you’ll receive and frequently asked questions.
After you have received your information pack, we will phone you to answer any questions you may have and to find out if you would like to progress on to the next stage.
One of our local Supervising Social Worker's will contact you to complete the second stage of the enquiry process. This is when we will ask you more questions and give you the opportunity to ask questions, too.
Ideally, within 14 days of the second stage enquiry, we will arrange to visit you at your home at a mutually convenient time. This visit gives the opportunity to gain and give information that will help to determine whether fostering is right for you and whether we are able to progress to the next stage.
On receipt of your application form we will invite you to attend the next available Skills to Foster course. This is a preparation course for potential applicants and is aimed at offering in-depth information on fostering, giving you the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the role and the expectations this will place on yourself and your family.
There are two stages to the assessment process and both stages can run concurrently. Stage One will involve building basic information and completion of checks and references. Stage Two will explore various areas of your life including relationships, parenting experience, employment history, background, skills, financial stability and overall suitability to foster. As part of this process you will be asked to complete relevant online training as well as homework.
The conducting of the ‘Form F’ assessment report usually takes around three to five months and consists of approximately 8 home visits, although this can vary. The Assessing Social Worker will meet with all members of the household sometimes, together and sometimes individually. They will also complete visits to some of your referees.
Should the Assessor make the decision that the assessment should not continue, you will be made aware both verbally and in writing as to the reasons why and your views sought. Depending on the stage of the assessment, a short report will be sent to the Fostering Panel or/and to the Agency Decision Maker for their views.
Once the ‘Form F’ is complete and the Assessor has made all the enquiries and gleaned all the information they feel is required, they will make their recommendation and a Panel date will be identified.
You will be invited to attend the Panel along with your Assessor. This will give the Panel the opportunity to ask you and your Assessor some questions. Your Assessor will be there to support you with answering any questions you may find difficult.
The Fostering Panel is made up of mainly independent members who come from various relevant backgrounds such as social work, health, education, legal and fostering.
After consideration of your case the Panel will make a Recommendation. You will be informed of the Recommendation later that day.
The Minutes from the Panel meeting must be written and agreed by all Panel members. This can take between one and two weeks. Once all Panel members have agreed the Minutes, they will be sent along with your Assessment to the Agency Decision Maker. On receipt of the Minutes the Agency Decision Maker has seven working days to reach a decision.
You will be informed of the decision orally within two working days and in writing within five working days.
Following Approval, you will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker who will provide you with all the information and support you will need to commence your fostering career.
The matching process will then begin to identify a child or young person who both you and your Supervising Social Worker feel would be a good fit for your family.
As part of your induction year, your Supervising Social Worker will support you to complete a nationally recognised training award known as the Training, Support and Development Standards. This course will form part of your training and development alongside other relevant courses.
You will also be invited to attend groups for foster carers where you can share ideas and peer support.
There are many reasons why a child or young person might come into care. Whether it be illness within the family, a family breakdown, drug or alcohol abuse in the home, or sadly due to physical, emotional or physical abuse and neglect.
It is this reason that children and young people in care sometimes present challenging behaviour. However, you will receive free comprehensive and professional training and 24/7 support from our team of experienced Social Workers, so you will never have to face anything alone. With your care and guidance, these children will receive a second chance in life.