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Did you know that FosterTalk works in partnership with over 110 Fostering Service Providers supporting over 17,000 foster families in the UK?

How do I become a Foster Carer?

When you are ready, ask for a visit from the Fostering Service Providers you feel most positive about. An ‘initial visit’ to your home should be arranged with you and all your family members. It's much better to have all the family at the meeting so that you can all ask questions and find out more.

Fostering will affect everyone and so needs to be a joint decision.

The ‘initial visit’ also enables the Fostering Service Providers to make an initial assessment of your situation to ensure that there is every chance of success for you, your family and any child or young person that you foster.

Training, support and fees

Pay close attention to the amount of training and support that you and all members of your household will receive. Fostering a child or young person can present new challenges so you and your family will need professional support as well as training.

Check out the amount of money you will receive for looking after the children or young people. All Fostering Service Providers should provide a national minimum amount as a ‘boarding out allowance’ for looking after the children or young people and many will provide a reward element for your time and effort.

Find out about the preparation process

You should be offered preparation training, which will provide you with the basic skills and knowledge to enable you to foster. Make sure that you feel the preparation training offered will provide enough time and information to help you feel confident and competent to start fostering.

Most Fostering Service Providers should expect you to have completed the preparation training before starting the assessment process. All potential Foster Carers should go through a thorough and effective assessment process that collates information about family histories, support networks and references, as well as identifying strengths and areas for improvement. Assessment should also include checks with the Criminal Records Bureau, NSPCC, Probation Service, your child’s school (where relevant) and your general practitioner for a health assessment.

Assessment process to becoming a Foster Carer

On 1st July 2013, the government introduced new guidance on the assessment and approval of foster carers that is designed to speed up the assessment process. They have done this by introducing a 2 stage process for gathering the essential information, so that applicants who are not thought to be suitable can be informed at a much earlier stage of their assessment.

Stage 1

The two stages can be done at the same time, but the information required for Stage 1 must be sought as soon as possible and a decision about whether someone has successfully completed stage 1 must be made within 10 working days of all the information required in that stage being received by the fostering service.

Stage 2

If the fostering service decides to proceed to stage 2 of the assessment, further information will be sought which will be included in a written report which will be presented to the fostering panel together with the recommendations of the assessing social worker as to the suitability of the applicant to foster.

Once a Stage 2 assessment has been started, it must be completed, unless:

  • The assessment is terminated following a brief report
  • The applicant withdraws from the process
  • The applicant is deemed unsuitable as a result of stage 1 of the assessment 9 only where stages 1 and 2 have been carried out concurrently)
  • It becomes apparent that the applicant or a member of their household has been convicted of or cautioned for specified offence (see Regulation 26(6)

If during stage 2 of the assessment, information comes to light indicating that the applicants is unsuitable to foster, a “brief report” can be written setting out details of the assessment so far and the reasons for considering the applicant unsuitable. If the Panel and the Agency Decision Maker agree that an applicant is not suitable to foster, they must tell them this in writing together with the reasons for this decision, and inform them that they have 28 calendar days seek a review of this decision (known as a Qualifying Determination) by the IRM or make further representations to the fostering service’s own panel.

Upon successful completion of Stage 2, a full assessment report will be presented to panel. It is usual for applicants to be invited to attend the fostering panel, along with their assessing social worker, so that they can answer any questions panel may have for them. Once Panel has made their recommendation, the agency decision maker will make their decision taking into account panel’s recommendation. The whole process, from application to Panel should take no more than 8 months.

Once a foster carer is approved, they will receive a letter setting out the terms of their approval. This will specify, the number, age or gender of children they can foster and the number of placements which can be made at any one time. Terms may include, short term, long term, respite, or shared care placements, and foster carers will be required to sign a Foster Care Agreement with their fostering service. Once approved by one fostering service, foster carers may not be approved by another fostering service at the same time.

>> A flow chart showing this 2 stage assessment process can be found here PDF

Learn more about becoming a Foster Carer

If you can’t find an answer to your query on this website, there are a number of other avenues you might like to explore, such as;

  • Your local library,
  • The internet,
  • Friends and other local people,
  • Your local council,
  • Fostering Service Providers,
  • The Fostering Network,
  • The British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

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