Choosing the right fostering service for you is the first step on the way to becoming an approved foster carer. The assessment and approval process is likely to take around eight months.
Once you have decided upon the service you would like to foster with, contact them to enquire and have an initial discussion about fostering and for the service to find out a little about you. You may be invited to attend an information session or the fostering service will offer for a member of their team to come out and visit you in your home to have a discussion about fostering.
If you are keen to progress your enquiry, you can ask to be assessed to foster by the service. You will be asked to complete an application form and a social worker will be assigned to begin a detailed assessment as to whether you are suitable and for which type of fostering.
You will also be invited to attend training, giving you the skills to foster, taking place on a combination of four to five evenings and/or weekends, depending on your fostering service.
The assessment can take around four to five months to complete. Your assessor will submit a full report to the fostering panel who will consider your suitability to foster. The fostering panel will make a recommendation about your approval to the fostering service.
On average, the journey to approval can take around eight months from your first enquiry. This can seem like a long time, but fostering services need to make sure you are suitable, and prepare you as best as possible, to foster a child or young person in your local community.
Sometimes a child can be placed with you as soon as you are approved as a foster carer. For others, it can take a while for a child to arrive. It is important that your fostering service makes sure that you are the right foster carer to look after a particular child or children. Making a good match is essential for a successful fostering placement.
Throughout your career as a foster carer, you will receive support and supervision from your fostering service as well as the opportunity of ongoing learning and development. The fostering service will review your approval to foster annually.