Below is an outline of the assessment process highlighting key stages you will go through to become a foster carer. From your Stage 1 Assessment to being approved at panel it should take around 6 months.
You can make your initial enquiry either online or with a call to your local authority duty line. The duty worker will chat to you about your reasons for wanting to foster and your current situation. They can answer any questions you may have about what fostering is, what is expected and in return what you can expect. You may also be sent an information pack or be invited to attend an information session where you will learn more about fostering.
A social worker will visit you in your home to discuss your personal circumstances and check the suitability of your home. The visit is then written up by the worker and evaluated. They will talk to you about the report and if they feel it would be possible for you to continue to the next stage.
The next stage involves being invited to attend a preparation course, which will help to highlight some of the experiences and behaviours that foster carers may face. There will be discussion and group work with other applicants.
After the preparation course you can decide to formally apply to become a foster carer by completing a Stage 1 Assessment of Suitability. It is at this stage we need to carry out checks on you and other members of the household. These are a legal requirement and will include medical and police checks as well as personal and work references from people who know you well. Once this information has been gathered a decision will be made within 10 working days whether to proceed to Stage 2 Full Assessment.
In Stage 2 Full Assessment you will have a dedicated worker who will work with you through the fostering assessment. They will talk to you in detail about your life experiences and background as well as your day-to-day lifestyle, beliefs and home life. They will discuss the skills you have and how a child would fit into your family home and how this will affect you and your family.
The assessment process will end with you attending a fostering panel. This consists of a number of people from Children Services, Council members, health representatives, an education representative and an independent Chair. They will talk to your assessor to decide whether they can recommend you as a foster carer or not. Each applicant is assessed on his/her individual situation and circumstances, however your local authority has the right to discontinue the assessment at any time during the process; applicants will be given clear reasons in this case.