The fostering assessment process is something which every potential foster carer will need to undergo before they can become a foster carer with UK Fostering. Not every case follows exactly the same sequence, but the following list of stages should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Your application to foster
Once an interested applicant has made contact with us, either by telephone or email, we’ll send out a fostering application pack to them by email or post, which should be filled in and returned to us. Once we receive your completed application we will contact you via phone to discuss your application, and if all is well proceed to the Initial Visit.
Initial Fostering Assessment and Visit
The next stage in the fostering assessment process is that a social worker from UK Fostering will arrange to come out and see you in your home. This initial visit usually lasts for about 2 hours and sometimes it might be split into two separate visits. It’s a chance for us to see where you live and assess aspects such as your spare room, and communal areas.
During the visit, we’ll go through some questions with you such as:
• Your understanding of fostering
• What you hope to achieve through becoming a foster carer
• Your skills and attributes and how these will enhance your fostering work
• Your expectations of the fostering process
The visit is also a great chance for applicants to ask more questions, and to make sure they are clear as to the finer details of fostering work before they are comfortable with moving forward. Following the meeting, it should be noted at this stage that both UK Fostering and the potential foster carer have the right to decide whether they want to continue with the fostering application process or not.
Form F Assessment
Should you and UK Fostering agree to proceed to the next stage, the actual assessment (Form F Assessment) starts. UK Fostering will allocate a fully qualified social worker to carry out this assessment. To assess your abilities as a foster carer, our social worker may visit anywhere between six and twelve times in order to complete the fostering assessment process. Once a written assessment has been completed, and you have been approved, this will then become your fostering portfolio. It will be used to help match you with the right foster children when you become a foster carer.
Everyone living in the fostering household will be included in the assessment, including the applicant’s own children. Once this has been completed you and the assessing social worker will both be asked to attend the fostering panel.
As part of the fostering assessment process, you’ll be asked to undergo a DBS check and a local authority check, as well as a medical examination by your doctor. These will all be covered financially by UK Fostering.
Skills to Foster Training
During the Form F assessment and before you can be approved as a foster carer, you’ll need to attend the Skills to Foster training programme, which is compulsory for all applicants. The stage at which you’re asked to attend this training may vary, for example it might be before or after the start of the Form F assessment. The training usually runs over two to three days and covers all you need to know before you start to foster.
Fostering assessment panel
UK Fostering has an independent fostering panel of nominated members, who each have a broad range of knowledge, skills and experience, including staff members from UK Fostering. Some of these members have professional child care backgrounds and some will have direct experience of the fostering process, either through being fostered themselves or through being a foster carer. As well as this expertise, members also have access to legal and medical advice if required.
The Panel will consider the report (Form F) which is presented before them, and will make a recommendation whether you should be approved as a foster carer.
This is the final step: UK Fostering will issue an approval notice to all foster carers. From there on you are an approved foster carer. Immediately afterwards we will allocate a named Supervising Social Worker who supports you throughout your fostering career.
You will then be placed on our vacancy list alongside other foster families awaiting the placement of a child or young person. A placement of a child can happen quite quickly, but it largely depends on the referrals of children which UK fostering receives for your local area, and how flexible and skilled you are to accommodate and cater for their needs.