The 7 step process to fostering; a flexible, home- based career.
We’ll take some basic details from you and have an initial chat about you, your background and how fostering could work for you. We’ll send you an information pack and invite you to our next Information Session. We run them multiple times each month, in a variety of venues across the four Local Authorities, so there’s always one you can access. At the Information Session you can listen to our presentation, ask lots of questions and meet some of our inspiring experienced foster carers. At the end of the session, if you’re ready, you can fill out an Expression of Interest form to take the next step.
Once we’ve received your Expression of Interest form, we’ll do some initial checks and one of our social workers will give you a call to arrange a time for them to come and visit you at your home that is convenient for both of you.
If you are a couple they will ask that both of you are there for the visit. The visit will last approx. 2 hours and they will discuss fostering in greater depth with you. They will ask you lots of questions about your home, lifestyle and offer you advice about how fostering could work for you. They may bring an experienced foster carer along with them. We try to match the foster carer we bring along with your circumstances. For example, if you’re single, we may bring a single carer, who could offer you first hand advice about how they do it alone. If you have children of your own at home, we will try to arrange for a foster carer who also has children to come along.
After the visit, the social worker will write a short summary for their manager and discuss what was spoken about in the visit with them. They will then contact you to let you know whether or not they are recommending you progress. If they're not recommending that you progress, they will explain why. If they are recommending you progress, they will invite you to the next Skills to Foster training course.
Before the course begins, the fostering team will send an Application Form out to you, either in the post or via email.
You complete this form and bring it along with you on the first day of the course or post it back to us beforehand.
Skills to Foster is the 3-day pre-approval training course. It’s a standard course that all foster carers in the UK undertake. We deliver it on a variety of days, times and venues across the four Local Authorities. We run it at least once per month.
It’s an exciting, inspiring and very in-depth course which will give you all the basics you need to know about becoming a registered foster carer. You’ll learn all about things such as why children may come into care, the legal process, caring for children safely, record keeping, and how we support you in your role. You’ll take part in some informal discussions and activities with other prospective foster carers that will really get you thinking! Don’t worry, there are no right or wrong answers, there are no tests and you don’t need to remember it all. It’s all about learning the basics and reflecting on your own understanding of the role.
The course is equivalent of 3 days training, but may be delivered as 6 evenings, or during weekends on some occasions for example, to make it as accessible as possible for as many people as possible.
Once you’ve completed Skills to Foster, you will be allocated an assessing social worker and your formal assessment will begin. It will be in two parts.
Stage 1 is the checks and references. On the Application Form we ask you to provide the details of a number of personal and professional referees (if relevant). We’ll contact them for references. We’ll speak with your own children if you have any and any significant ex-partners you may have. We also ask you to have a medical with your own GP, who will let us know if they feel you are ‘fit to foster’, and will inform us of anything that may need to be explored further. We’ll also undertake DBS checks.
Stage 2 is the written assessment. We want to know all about you! The assessing social worker will visit you on approximately 7 occasions. They will discuss with you all about you, your views on caring/ parenting, how you were parented yourselves, your life experiences and how that may have helped shaped the person you are today. You can also attend training courses during your assessment to help you to build your knowledge and skills before you start.
This will help us to build a really in depth picture of you and what you could offer. Again, there are no right or wrong answers, and there’s certainly no such thing as the ‘perfect’ foster carer. Life experience counts for a lot, we just need to see that you would be able to put children’s needs first, treat each child as an individual and are able to be reflective, learn and develop your skills.
Once your assessment report is completed, you’ll be sent a draft for you to add to/ amend any details that may need tweaking etc.
You’ll then be invited to attend the next Panel. We hold these at least monthly. Your report will be discussed and your assessing social worker will introduce you to the panel members. Panel will then make a decision whether or not to recommend your approval as a foster carer. This decision will be finalised and ‘rubber stamped’ by the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) a few days later. You will then be formally notified that you are now an approved foster carer and who your supervising social worker will be.
Congratulations! Welcome to the fostering family. Your supervising social worker will come out and visit you to do your induction visit. Here, they will welcome you to the service and give you all the documents you will need to get you started.
You will now await your first child(ren) coming to stay with you. This is sometimes known as a placement. You will likely get a telephone call within a few days/ weeks from the social worker on duty, who will discuss a child or children with you. This is sometimes known as the referral.
The referral contains all the information the fostering team have received about the child(ren), including the reasons they have come into care, what the future plan may be, the contact arrangements that will be in place, where they go to nursery/ school/ college etc, their likes and dislikes, and any other information that will help you to make the decision about whether or not you could provide care for them. In some instances, the social worker may need a decision from you fairly quickly, in others, you may have a bit longer to consider things.
If you decide that you can provide the care for the child(ren), the social worker on duty will make the arrangements for them coming to you. They will discuss the equipment you may need.
You will undoubtedly eagerly await their arrival, and may well be very nervous. Don’t worry! All foster carers were new at one time, and even the most experienced still learn with every new child or young person that comes through their front door. You won’t get everything right all the time, but your life experiences, training and nurturing instinct will certainly help you to provide exceptional, safe, consistent care for a child(ren) when they need it most. Importantly you will help them to make sense of their situation, reassure them and involve them in your day-to-day activities. Our most successful fostering households are fun, flexible, compassionate and give children both lots of nurturing 1-1 time and opportunities to socialize and develop their interests.
Whilst the children are in your care, both your own supervising social worker and the child’s social worker will be in regular contact with you to provide any support and advice you may need. Good luck!