Applying to be a foster carer usually takes about six months but the timescales do vary depending on the nature of each application.
Step 1 - Make an enquiry
Great news! You’ve already made the first step by visiting our web page. You can look through our fostering information pack to find out everything you need to know about fostering.
If you’re ready to take the next step and speak to our friendly team, you can fill in our online form or call us on 01942 487200. No question is too big or too small.
We also hold regular drop in sessions on the first Wednesday of each month at 6pm. It's your chance to speak with a fostering social worker face to face and ask them your questions. Alternatively, a member of the fostering team can visit you at home to speak to you individually.
Step 2 - Fill in the application form
After you have expressed an interest, you will receive an information pack and application form. Complete the form and send it back to us.
Step 3 - Informal checks
After we have received your application, we need to do some initial checks which involves checking our records to see if you’ve received any services from us in the past. This helps us to look at any information about you or anyone in your family that we might need to discuss before we progress your application.
If you have any queries or concerns about this stage please do let us know.
Step 4 - Attend a 'Skills to foster' training course
You will then need to attend a formal pre-approval training course where you’ll have the chance to explore the implications of fostering for both yourself and your family, and take part in activities and group discussions. You’ll also be given a work book to help you. As part of your preparation training and assessment you will have the opportunity to meet some of our existing carers and young people who are involved in delivering training.
The course is usually one evening per week for a six week period, or two/three days during the weekend or weekday, whichever suits you.
Step 5 - Background checks
After you have completed the training course, we'll need to do some background checks to make sure that children will be safe and looked after in your care. The checks include:
- Statements from people who can comment on your ability to bring up children
- Police checks for you and any adult member of your household - Only certain criminal convictions could prevent you from becoming a foster carer eg offences against children or sex offences
- Personal references from two people. These can be friends or neighbours as long as they know you as a family
- Medical. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be at the peak of your fitness.
Step 6 - Assessment
The assessment process usually takes around 16 weeks. You will be given a social worker who will visit your home on several occasions to get to know both you and your family. They’ll work with you to complete your fostering assessment and look at the ways you live your life, including your own upbringing, routines, relationships, parenting skills and support network.
Your social worker will be able to identify any additional support you may need when becoming a foster carer. You will also get the chance to shadow an existing carer so you can see first-hand what the role involves.
Step 7 - Fostering panel
The most exciting part! This is when we approve you as a foster carer. At the end of the assessment, we will summarise all that we’ve learned about you in a report which will recommend the type of foster care suited to your ability and experience. It will also suggest support and training you may need when doing the role. You will have the opportunity to read and make comments on the report before this is presented at the fostering panel, although your social worker will have discussed this throughout your visits.
You are now a foster carer...
Once approved you will receive continued support and training throughout your fostering career. You will have lots of opportunities for learning and development.