Assessment & training
So if you haven't already visited the 'Making an Enquiry' section, have a read through the information on there first as making the enquiry is the very first step in the process.
What happens next?
So hopefully you've been given lots of information about fostering, we've answered all your questions and you've now decided that fostering is something you would like to do. Great!
Let us know you're interested
We need to know you're keen, so let us know you're keen to move forward. There will be some basic paperwork to complete, and we'll begin doing some initial checks such as a DBS and medical check.
To prepare you for the role you will attend ‘Skills to Foster’ training. This is a 2 day course, currently taking place online, which aims to provide you with a good basic understanding of caring for a foster child. Foster carers and social workers deliver the training, and it's a great opportunity to meet and talk to other people going through the assessment process. Your assessment may begin before your training, depending on the training dates and your availability.
There will also be two extra days of training on attachment and safer caring that you should attend before your panel date.
"Being fostered was really hard for me at first. I felt awkward and out of place in my new foster home, I didn't know anything about anyone I was living with, but my foster family made such a huge effort to get to know me and include me. It made such a difference"
Child In Care, Aged 15
You will have a dedicated Assessing Social Worker, who will work with you to complete what is called a 'Form 5'. This is the main part of the assessment. Your Assessing Social Worker will visit you (please see notes below on arrangements for assessing during the pandemic) several times to get to know you, your family, your home and your experiences, to make sure you can offer a child security, stability and safety. The assessment can sometimes feel quite intrusive, as we will cover personal subjects including your own childhood, your relationships with your family, as well as discussing any significant ex partners. There are also additional checks we have to do as part of the assessment process, to make sure you can safely look after a child. These include:
- Disclosure and Barring Service (Police check)
- A medical report via your GP
- A SSAFA check (Soldier, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) if you have served in the Armed Forces
- A certificate of good conduct or similar – if you have lived abroad for more than 90 days.
- A household risk assessment
- Employment checks
- Ofsted check if you are or have been a registered childminder
- References from family and friends
- An education reference from your child’s school (if you have children of school age)
- A reference from anyone you have parented with, such as an ex-partner. We are mindful that this is not always comfortable but in practice this rarely presents any difficulties. You can speak to your social worker completing your assessment if you have particular concerns about this.
You should also be aware that depending on your individual circumstances, the assessment process can take between 6 - 8 months, mostly due to the time it takes to complete these checks.
*Assessing during the Coronavirus pandemic*
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the majority of the assessment will be completed via telephone and video call, to minimise contact. We will however need to complete one home visit during the assessment, adhering to all current guidelines on face coverings and social distancing, to check your home is a safe environment for children.
"I remember the first time we took them to the beach, and they had never been on sand before."
Your Assessing Social Worker will write a detailed report about you to present to the foster panel. You will see the report and you can (and are often encouraged) to attend the panel.
Using the report and information collected from your Form 5 assessment, the panel will then discuss and decide whether to recommend your approval for fostering. If they are happy to recommend you as a foster carer, a senior manager will then consider their recommendation and make a final decision, where all being well you will be 'ratified'. You can watch a film about a foster carer called Michael on his panel day here.
Once you’ve been approved and ratified as a new foster carer, you will be introduced to your dedicated Supervising Social Worker, who will support you on your fostering journey. The fostering team will also seek to identify a child in care who would be a good match for you and your family, and you'll welcome your first foster child (or children) in to your home.
Ongoing development and support
We will support you every step of the way with ongoing training, support and guidance. Your Supervising Social Worker will work with you and your family, and you'll also have the opportunity to get to know other foster carers, and attend regular support groups and family days if you wish (currently on hold due to the pandemic).