Get started

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Initial enquiry

You must register your interest in fostering online or call the Fostering team on 01634 335 726.

If you called us, we will contact you within 24 hours to ask you to complete the register your interest form.

If you meet our fostering criteria, an appointment may be arranged for a Social Worker to visit you at home.

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Arranging your home visit

If you are applying to foster as a couple, you will both need to be there for the visit.

If you have children living at home, the Social Worker may want to meet your children.

Following the initial home visit, we will decide if we can progress you to the next stage.

We will let you know our decision and send you an application form to fill in.

Once we have received and reviewed your completed application form, we will let you know if you have been accepted onto stage 1 of the assessment process or tell you why we could not accept your application.

Stage 1 (2 months)

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Starting the fostering process 

During the stage 1 process, you will be asked to complete:

  • checks
  • references
  • training.
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Checks and references

For each applicant, you must complete all of the following statutory checks:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks – this must be completed for you and anyone who is 16 and over living in the house (costs covered by us)
  • medical assessment, a full medical health check with your GP (costs covered by us)
  • probation check
  • 3 personal references
  • ex-partner reference check if you parented together or share children together (risk dependent)
  • current partner check
  • education references for your own children usually from the school(s) they attend
  • employment references, including explanations for any employment gaps
  • financial assessment
  • full credit check
  • bank and mortgage check
  • landlord references (if applicable)
  • home safety checks (including pets).
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Mandatory training (Skills to Foster course)

All new applicants must complete a 3 day Skills to Foster training course.

The course will provide you with a quick summary about what you will learn more about, including:

  • children in care, identity and life chances
  • the impact of early life trauma and therapeutic parenting
  • understanding and caring for children and young people in care and their individual needs
  • managing behaviours
  • safer caring (including risk of allegations)
  • safeguarding
  • working with others and professionals around the child
  • the responsibilities of the carer(s)
  • shared insights from an experienced foster carer.

All applicants are encouraged to use this time to explore, research and develop their knowledge of looked after children.

After completion, we will let you know if you've been successful to progress to stage 2 of the fostering process.

Stage 2 (3-4 months)

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Form F assessment

Completing the Form F assessment takes around 3 to 4 months.

You will be allocated an Assessing Social Worker who will support you through the fostering process.

Together, you will have 6 to 8 home visits each lasting about 2 to 3 hours.

In the home visits, you will plan and discuss all paperwork you need to complete your assessment.

If you are a couple, you will both need to be involved in all sessions.

If you have children or other members of the household, the Social Worker will also need to meet with them.

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Midway Review

During the assessment, you will attend a Midway Review meeting with:

  • your allocated Assessing Social Worker
  • Senior Practitioner or Team Manager from the Fostering Recruitment team.

This is to make sure that the assessment is progressing correctly.

At this stage, we may take the opportunity to undertake a Second Opinion visit to review any matters raised before approving the Form F.

Once the Form F report and Midway Review (and Second Opinion report, if applicable) is written, it will be shared with you.

You will have the opportunity to comment on it and the areas covered in the report before it is submitted to the Fostering Panel.

If your Form F assessment is approved, you will be invited to attend the fostering panel.

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Fostering panel

Your Form F assessment is presented to the fostering panel by your Assessing Social Worker.

The fostering panel is a group of people, including:

  • foster carers
  • Social Workers
  • independent people.

At panel, you and your Social Worker will share information about the assessment and answer any questions the panel members have.

You will be introduced to your Supervising Social Worker before the panel and they may come to the panel for support.

Panel members will make a recommendation about your approval, and you will be told this at the end of the panel.

The recommendation will be passed to the Agency Decision Maker who must approve the recommendation.

You will be sent formal notification in writing within 7 working days of attending the panel.

Once you are an approved foster carer, your Supervising Social Worker will be there to help you prepare for your first placement.