What is the process to become a Foster Carer?
The 8 steps to becoming a foster carer
The first stage of the process is the Initial Viability. This is where you will be asked approximately 12 questions that will ascertain if you meet the initial criteria to move forward. You will likely be asked the following key questions. ( Some fostering organisations will have variations on this)
Do you have a spare room?
Are you employed?
What are your plans for employment after approval as a Foster Carer? Will you be able to undertake school runs and attend occasional meetings?
Have you had social services involvement?
Do you have any convictions?
What is the family composition/who is living in the family home?
Partnership/marriage details if relevant?
Do you/partner have any birth children living elsewhere?
Do you smoke? (Approval of 5-18 years for those who smoke)
Any current health issues?
Any transferable skills?
Have you considered matching to your own family? (Age ranges for child placed for example.
You will be advised at the end of the Initial Viability if you meet the criteria to proceed to the next stage which is a Home Visit. Interbright completes Initial Viabilities and can help you to choose the best organisation to foster through. You can also do this on your own and contact agencies directly. Interbright can also support you with this to ensure you find the organisation that will give you the best support.
The fostering organisation you choose will want to see the layout of your home and the room you propose for fostering during the home visit. (Don’t worry about the presentation of the room you propose for fostering at this point. Most people use their spare room for storage and are only expected to have it ready with furniture before approval).
At the end of the home visit, the Social Worker should be able to advise you if you have met the requirements to proceed to application. Once you are happy with the organisation you can proceed to application. (Some organisations will take in applications after the training).
Once you are happy with the fostering organisation and they have confirmed you can proceed, you can start the application process. (Some organisations will take in applications after the training). After application you will be invited to attend the training which is called ‘Skills to Foster.’
Skills to Foster training
After submitting your application form you will be invited to attend ‘Skills to Foster ‘training. This is an interactive (usually) three day training course where you will learn a lot more about the fostering role. During this training you will meet other prospective foster carers and you will work in groups to complete the training, so by the end of the course you will know people well and may decide to stay in touch. The course usually takes place over three separate weekends but this can vary.
Form "F" Assessment
After the Skills to Foster training the Form F assessment will start.
The Form F includes information about yourself and your family.It explores your childhood, employment, relationships, any significant events and thoughts on how you would manage particular scenario’s with a child in your care. This is very much a joint piece of work between yourself and your Assessing Social Worker whom you will get to know well during the process.
Once your assessment is completed, you attend panel. Panel is attended by people from a cross section of society. You may have a Nurse, a Foster Carer, a care leaver, a Social Worker for example. There will be a Panel Chair and a minute taker. Your Assessing Social Worker will be with you too.
Panel is not like a job interview. Your Assessing Social Worker will only be going to panel with you if they are recommending you and the panel relies very heavily on the Assessing Social Worker’s assessment and recommendation. If an Assessing Social Worker did not think you would get through panel, you would be advised of this beforehand. So by the time you get to panel you are 95% of the way there.
Once you are approved by panel and the Agency Decision Maker signs off the approval, you will be available to take placements and you will be assigned your Supervising Social Worker.
You will be sent referrals to view and you can decide if the child would ‘match’ with your family or not.
It’s good to talk the referrals through with your Supervising Social Worker before making a decision especially in the early days of approval. Your Supervising Social Worker will help you explore the referral closely to see if the child would be a good match for your family.
Once you have decided on a referral that will be a good match for you, your Supervising Social Worker will work with you to make arrangements for the child’s arrival. It is very natural to feel nervous and very excited at this point! As long as you are with the right organisation, you will be supported every step of the way while you are fostering.