Fostering - the next step
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, please view all our online information. Having read and taken time to consider if fostering is right for you (and your family), please complete our online information request form.
After we have received your completed enquiry form, you will be contacted by a social worker from the Fostering and Adoption team to discuss your enquiry and arrange a home visit to discuss further, if appropriate. Following this, you will be invited to attend our skills to foster course.
Skills to Foster
Ours skills to foster course is designed to enhance your existing caring and communications skills. We share our experiences and discuss the needs of children who have been accommodated, to understand how a child's life experiences may affect their future development. Our course promotes the additional needs of a child who has been looked after, which may differ from your own experiences.
Participation in the skills to foster course gives both the applicant and our team the opportunity to decide if fostering is appropriate for you and your family at this time. If it is mutually agreed that you should move to the next stage, you will be.
Becoming a foster carer
You will be allocated a supervising social worker who will regularly visit you at home to gain a greater understanding of you and your family's suitability to foster. Our assessment process will involve the social worker assessing the skills and experience you bring to your potential role as a foster carer and also identify any areas where you may require additional development or support. We hope to finish the assessment process within six months. We will then complete a report to present to the Fostering panel. You can contribute to and/or read the report (apart from third party information) prior to submission. You will be invited to attend the Fostering panel, whereby the panel will make a recommendation on your suitability to be approved as a foster carer. The Panel's decision maker will ultimately decide whether it is suitable for you to become a registered foster carer.
As a registered fostering agency, we are required to undertake several statutory checks on potential and current foster carers:
Protection of Vulnerable Groups
All foster carers are required to undergo a Protection of Vulnerable Groups check. The PVG check will highlight any criminal convictions you may have. It is best practice to let us know at the start of your application process if you have been convicted of a criminal offence. If you have a criminal conviction, it may be possible for you to become a foster carer - we will discuss your conviction(s) with you on a case by case basis. The PVG check is undertaken every two years for all foster carers and will also be undertaken on anyone over the age of sixteen who resides in your home.
We do not discriminate on the grounds of ill health or disability. However, we are aware that fostering can be demanding and a disability or serious health problem may affect your ability to care. Any health problems or disability would be considered sympathetically by the agency's medical adviser and your social worker, however this may lead to restrictions of the age group, number and type of child that you may be considered suitable to care for. We would request that you undergo a full medical assessment, which would be conducted by your General Practitioner. Your local health visitor is also contacted to ask if they have any opinion on your ability to care for a child. This check is repeated every five years, or more regularly if required.
Local Authority checks
We undertake a check of our records. If you have lived in another Local Authority since the age of sixteen, we would also check their records.
Employment history and employers reference
We will require you to disclose your full employment history. As a matter of course we will seek a written reference from your current, or most recent, employer.
Previous partners, older and adult children
As part of our checks, if you have been in a previous long-term relationship, we will seek to contact your former partner. If any children were involved in the relationship, we will also seek to contact them. If you have any concerns, please inform us when we discuss your application.
You will be asked to provide a list of six potential referees covering various stages of your life - two may be from relatives. Referees will be asked to provide a written reference - some referees will also be visited.
What happens next?
If you are successful in becoming a registered foster carer, we will meet to complete a written agreement. The agreement sets out the terms of your approval and the fostering responsibilities for you and the Council. The agreement will identify the number of children you can foster, including age limits and sex. We keep a copy of our written agreement on file and may, if necessary, be reviewed at a later date. We also offer you a range of advice, training and support.