One of the biggest reasons people decide to foster is to make a difference in a child’s life. By fostering, you will be expected to provide a temporary home for a child, as well as provide them with warmth and love and give them a space in which they can feel safe and nurtured. For those who would like to consider becoming a foster carer, but aren’t quite sure how to proceed, the main stages are outlined below to help guide you through the initial process.
The first step is to decide whether you would like to go through the local authority or through an independent fostering agency. If you are unsure, it is better to contact multiple services and make a decision based on how timely and efficiently your enquiry has been dealt with.
Once you have made an initial enquiry with an agency, a home visit will be arranged. This will be with a registered manager or social worker and will give you the opportunity to go more in depth about the reasons you wish to foster and to discuss whether or not the agency will be a good fit for you. You will also be encouraged to ask any questions you may have about the process.
Following the home visit, and providing you still wish to go ahead with fostering, you will be asked to file a formal application form. You will be assigned to a social worker who can help you through this application process. Based on your application, the agency will carry out appropriate reference checks. You will also be asked to undergo a criminal record check and a medical examination with your GP. Do not be put off about the medical examination, it is simply to help determine whether you are physically fit enough to take on fostering.
You will need to attend fostering training which will help provide useful tools and knowledge on how to get the most out of fostering, whilst providing the best possible care for the child. It will also give you a chance to interact with other prospective foster carers as well as current foster carers.
The final stage in becoming a foster carer is to submit a report (commonly known as form F) to be reviewed. This report will be completed by your assigned social worker who helped you through the application process. You will be given the chance to review your report before it is submitted to the fostering panel, who will then review all the information provided and ask any questions they may have. The panel will then make a recommendation to the agency on whether they feel you should become an approved foster carer. The agency will then make their final decision and inform you of the outcome.
Now that you have a general idea of the application process, you can weigh up the decision of whether or not you would like to proceed. Finally, do remember that one of the biggest misconceptions about fostering is that people feel they may not qualify, however almost anyone can apply to be a foster carer as long as they have the resilience, patience and warmth required to care for children separated from their families.