The fostering journey

To be a good foster carer you need patience and perseverance. Pirjo - foster carer

That journey is made together with the social workers from Worcestershire Children First Fostering. Their job is to work with you and make sure that you understand the needs of children who are looked after and that you have or can acquire the skills and knowledge to meet their needs.

The assessment of a person’s suitability to foster consists of two stages. To ensure that the process is smooth and efficient, in most instances we run the stages in parallel. Once your initial enquiry is processed, we aim to complete the assessment within four months. This allows time for people to consider carefully whether embarking on this journey is right for them.

We know that people may have been thinking about fostering for some time before feeling ready to begin their journey. We hope this helps you to decide if you can make a positive change to the life of a child or young person.

Step one: Register your interest

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You can register your interest in fostering, email or telephone. An information pack can be downloaded or emailed to you. Once you have read the information pack and considered all the information, you can contact our Recruitment Support Officer to have an ‘initial enquiry’ taken.

This will then be passed to a social worker who will call you to arrange the Initial Home Visit.

If you have any questions we will be able to answer them for you.

Step two: Pre assessment - Initial home visit and preparation training course

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After the initial enquiry has been completed, a social worker will contact you to arrange to visit you (and your partner if relevant) in your own home. This will provide the opportunity to further explore your personal circumstances in privacy and to talk about the role of fostering.

If both you and the social worker agree that fostering could be right for you, you will then be invited to attend a preparation training course. We hold these monthly, alternating weekday, evening and weekend courses.

Once you have attended the Preparation Course and managers believe you might be suitable, a formal application form will be emailed or posted to you at this stage to complete and return.

Step three: Assessment Stage One Registration and Checks

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Once you submit your formal application form, Stage One can begin. We will take up a number of statutory checks and references, including, for example:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service which is a criminal background check
  • personal references, from family members and non-family members
  • employers’ references

We will request your agreement to undertake a fostering medical, which is completed by your GP. This is simply to ensure that you are medically fit enough to cope with the challenges of fostering. Your application can, however, be stopped at any point during Stage One, should the statutory checks reveal information that we consider would make you unsuitable to foster.

Step four: Assessment stage two assessment

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Your social worker will meet with you throughout this period. During this time the social worker gets to know you and your family and spends time helping you think about what strengths you could bring to caring for a looked after child or young person. We will talk to you about your family background and your present circumstances.

You will be asked to provide information about your education, employment history and leisure interests, past relationships and experience of caring for children. Remember, the whole process is focused on finding the right homes for the children and young people who need to be looked after, so developing an understanding of the kinds of children and young people you could support is very important.

The process of preparation and assessment of prospective foster carers is thorough. This is to determine whether applicants are suitable to foster. During this stage we will have to ask some very detailed and personal questions, so we ask you to be as relaxed, open and honest with us as possible.

Step five: Fostering panel

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On completion of the assessment, it is written up into a report called the Prospective Foster Carers’ Report (Form F), which is taken to Worcestershire’s Fostering Panel.

You will have the opportunity to read and comment upon the report.

You will be invited to attend the panel meeting with your social worker. All panel members will have read your assessment and will have some questions to ask you. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have.

The panel will make a recommendation regarding your approval. This will be passed to a senior manager, who decides whether or not to accept the recommendation based on all of the reports and minutes of the panel meeting.

Step six: Following approval

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Following approval you will be asked to sign the Foster Carer Agreement.

This sets out what you can expect from the Fostering Service in supervising and supporting you, and our expectations of you and how we work together.

You are then ready to foster.

The Fostering Service will look at matching you with a child and young person depending on your type of approval,the needs of the child and young person and your particular strengths.

What if your application is not successful?

During the early stage of the process

Occasionally applicants will be advised that the Fostering Service believes they are unlikely to be recommended as suitable to foster a child or young person. If this is the case, we will provide you with a clear written explanation of the reasons why you are unable to complete

Stage Two. An applicant cannot appeal this decision. However, if you are unhappy with the way your application has been handled, representation can be made through the complaints process. The complaints process cannot, however, consider whether you are suitable to foster or not.

Following attendance at Fostering Panel

Should you not agree with the decision of the Agency, you have the opportunity to appeal and have your case reviewed either by the Fostering Service or by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). This is operated by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (CoramBAAF), on behalf of the Department for Education.

Whilst it cannot overturn the Agency’s decision, it can make a recommendation to the Agency on your suitability to be approved as a foster carer. The Agency will take that recommendation into consideration when making its final decision.