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How to become a foster parent

The journey to becoming a foster carer is one of discovery, learning,
friendship and support. As such, the fostering assessment process is very thorough and can take a lot of time and patience, something we look for in all of our prospective carers.

At Fostering Solutions, it's our role to make sure that you understand what is involved when you become a foster carer and how you can offer a child a safe, supportive home. This means that we ask lots of questions and get to know you extremely well to determine your suitability to become a foster parent. It's nothing to worry about though, our team is friendly and supportive from the very first enquiry to the final stage of the fostering process and beyond.

It’s important to find out all the facts before becoming a foster carer and we have pulled together a step-by-step guide to this amazing journey, giving you an insight into what the role entails and any questions you may have about fostering.

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1. Chat to our advice team

If you're interested in learning about how to become a foster carer, your first step is to chat to us. Fostering Solutions can answer any questions you have straight away, helping you to decide if fostering is really for you. If you have any questions to ask about fostering, during the initial stages is the best time to raise any queries.

I found the staff to be extremely helpful, supportive and I felt at ease straight away. I had many questions and they were answered with care and sensitivity.

Rachael - Approved 2012
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2. Ready to proceed? - The home visit

Following your chat with us, we will pop round for a home visit. Whilst there, we will discuss what follows next in the foster care process, ask questions about your life experience and begin to collect basic information for your application. It is imperative we get a feel for your home environment, but there is nothing to feel nervous about - we’re there to start the process and help you on your way to becoming a foster carer and work out the most suitable placements for your home.

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3. The application form & assessment begins

If all goes well with your visit, you will be asked to complete a foster carer application form. If this is successful, we will assign you a social worker who will start your fostering assessment. They will visit your home a few times (usually around eight to ten visits), to gather a wealth of information about you and your family. This information will go towards your Form F - a document that outlines your case for becoming a foster parent. It's a two-way process and your social worker is there to help you build your case as a foster carer, not to judge you. Ask questions and use this time to learn as much as you can about fostering from those who are most informed.

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4. Assessment

The assessment process can last four to eight months and is split into various stages. From checks to interviews, this is an important stage in your fostering journey.

The first stage is all about gathering references and running through medical, financial and safety checks, to ensure that each child is placed with the most appropriate foster parent.

The second stage involves further checks, and looks at your suitability for more complex types of foster care (such as experiences with vulnerable people, children with disabilities and challenging behaviour). At this stage, your fostering panel date is set. This is the date when your Form F will be discussed with our fostering panel to help make the big decision as to whether you are ready to become a foster parent.

I was able to reflect on the past and by thinking about my life I was able to learn things & I enjoyed every bit of the assessment

Barbara - Approved 2008
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5. Skills to Foster course

While the various checks and assessments are being undertaken, we invite you to take our Skills to Foster course. This three day programme is designed to help you become a foster carer, by introducing you to other potential carers and teaching you the skills needed to become fostering-ready. It's as fun as it is informative and offers you a real insight into what lies ahead as a foster carer.

The course also gives you the chance to speak to other carers, to find out more about their experiences, gain advice on the process and any feedback they found useful during their own assessment. This is a crucial part of the assessment, and the guidance our course leaders offer goes towards your success.

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6. Assessment report complete, panel meeting

As your assessment form is complete, your Form F and check outcomes are presented to the fostering panel. This panel consists of various independent parties within fostering, educational and other care backgrounds. Your panel meeting will take place at your local Fostering Solutions office and while it can be a nervous time, your assessing social worker will be right by your side to give you support. The panel members will ask questions about your Form F report and gauge your suitability to become a foster parent, but it is very likely that these will all be queries you will be expecting as your social worker will have worked with you to prepare for all such questions in advance.

Obviously, before panel we were anxious about what to expect but we need not have worried, everyone at panel were lovely and just everyday people like ourselves

Phil & Elaine - Approved 2014
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7. Approval

The panel will consider your assessment and then make a recommendation about your approval as a foster carer. The final decision is made by the agency's decision maker. Good luck!

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8. First placement

Congratulations! If you have made it to this stage you are now a fully-fledged foster carer! Now comes the next step in your journey - the first day in your new career in foster care. Our team continues to support you throughout your career, helping you with every single placement and being there as a constant source of guidance and advice.

As I opened the front door, I saw a little pair of shoes in the hallway and straight away all my anxieties melted away – I knew then it wasn’t about me anymore but making sure he was happy in our home

Claire - Approved 2006
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What next?

If you’d like to start your journey into fostering and need more information about how to become a foster parent, there are plenty of ways you can get in touch.

Request an information pack from us and we’ll get one sent out to you in the post straight away. Alternatively, you can request a call back and a member of our friendly advice team will ring you for a chat. Click on one of the links below to get started.

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