Further information about the fostering process
Making an initial enquiry is easy and this can be done by phone or email.
You may email our duty service your interest and a duty worker will phone you or you can call us directly on 020 8753 1057. You will be able to speak to a member of the team to answer any questions you have and to discuss whether fostering is right for you and your family.
We will complete an initial enquiry with you to find out more about your reasons for considering fostering, your previous experience of caring for children and your housing space and the time you have to care for children. The information will inform us whether you are a good candidate for fostering.
Following this call you will be sent an information pack, which will contain information around the eligibility criteria, types of fostering, fees and allowances, and the fostering assessment process. If you wish to progress, you will be invited to an information event.
Attending an information event will provide you with an opportunity to find out even more about the fostering process, learn about the children who need foster placements and meet some of our social workers.
You will benefit from the open discussions of the group and personal testimonies from some of our foster carers. It is recommended that all applicants attend these events, however if you are unable to attend, we will discuss this and conduct an initial home visit.
Initial home visit
A social worker from the fostering team will visit you at home to discuss fostering in more detail and answer any additional questions you have. They will complete a brief assessment with you and your partner (if applicable) in relation to your consideration into fostering.
The visit will also give you the chance to share your motivation, understanding and ability to meet the needs of looked after children.
You will be able to discuss the fostering role and have the opportunity to highlight any experiences you have had that may strengthen your application to foster. We will ask about your family and support system and their feelings about fostering.
The social worker will make a recommendation to the fostering team manager and a decision will be made whether we progress to the assessment stage or if there is additional work or learning that needs to take place prior to this.
Stage 1 Assessment (8 to 10 weeks)
The Skills-to-Foster preparation training
You will be invited to attend a 3-day training course for prospective foster carers.
Attendance at the course forms part of the assessment process, and all applicants are required to attend. Depending on when the training course starts, you may be invited to attend the course before the assessment begins or after the during the assessment.
The training will cover a variety of topics in order to prepare you for the fostering role. Following the course, the trainers will discuss with you whether you have the skills to foster at this time.
During the assessment stage a number of checks will be undertaken which includes:
- your local authority
If you have a school-age child, we will also complete personal references. You will be expected to undertake a health assessment with your doctor.
We will need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on you, your partner and any members of your household who are over 18.
Stage 2 - Assessment (up to 4 months)
If you and the Skills to Foster trainers agree to proceed and there are no child protection concerns regarding your checks, we will begin to complete a comprehensive assessment.
You will be allocated an assessing social worker who will have a discussion with you about your:
- life experiences
- parenting skills and the qualities you would bring to fostering
You will provide evidence of your ability to care for children or young people and the social worker will talk to your children, any adult children who have left home, and any former significant partners, where applicable.
Your assessing social worker will put all the information gathered during the assessment in one report. You will have a chance to read, make comments and sign the finished report before it is presented to the independent fostering panel.
Halfway through your assessment, your assessing social worker and their manager will undertake a midway review, which requires them to meet with you, either in your home or in the office.
This is an opportunity to check that the assessment is on track and put in place plans to address any issues that may have arisen during the assessment and any challenges or concerns you may have about the assessment or the assessor.
The Fostering Panel
If it is a successful or unsuccessful assessment, your report will be presented to the Fostering Panel which you will be invited to attend.
The Fostering Panel is a group of professionals independent of the service. The panel will make a recommendation to the agency decision-maker on your suitability to foster. The agency decision-maker considers the panel recommendations and makes the final decision.
Once you are approved as a foster carer, your assessing social worker will arrange for you to be enrolled on our payment system and transferred to a supervising social worker.
They will help you to order any equipment that you will need for a placement and arrange any training and support you may need once you are approved you will be ready to take placements.