If you’ve decided you want to provide a home to vulnerable children as a foster carer, you are probably wondering what the process will be, and what you should do first.
Choose an agency
You will first need to choose a fostering agency. You could be a foster carer for a local authority or an independent fostering agency (IFA). Research the agencies and local authority in your area and contact them to discuss your interest in fostering, and ask any questions you may have. At Diagrama Fostering we are always happy to answer queries about becoming a foster carer.
Things to consider are:
- How they support their foster carers
- Are they not for profit or profit making
- The ages and behaviours of children that are generally placed
- Do they place siblings, parent and child
- Area that they cover
- Training they offer
Once you select an agency you will be able to have a chat with a social worker and a home visit so they can learn more about you and your family and they can share information about the agency.
A social worker will assess a prospective foster parent. They will check that you have the skills, experience, and a suitable home for fostering. All those in your family who will have contact with the foster children will also be assessed. This includes your partner if you have one and any children of your own, and any former partners with whom you share children.
The assessment is in 2 stages:
Stage 1 is the administrative element of the assessment. This is when all your checks will be completed including:
- School references (if you have school age children)
- Completion of the portfolio (family tree, support network, health and safety, safe care plan)
Stage 2 comprises of the narrative element of the assessment when the social worker will have a series of meetings with you, your partner (if in a couple) as well as other members of the household. The assessment can take 6-8 months and is very detailed. You will be interviewed many times and have plenty of opportunities to reflect on whether fostering is the right choice for you. At the end of this process, your assessor submits a full report to a fostering panel.
The fostering panel is made up of people with knowledge and experience of the fostering process and the children who need placements. They will decide whether you are suitable to be a foster carer. If they decide you are well suited and able to provide that much-needed home to a foster child, you will be approved as a foster parent, and ready for your first placement.
If you would like to find out more about the assessment process or any other aspect of fostering, contact Diagrama Fostering today to discuss how you can become a foster carer for a child in need of a safe home.