Why Do People Become Foster Parents?
Always wanted to be a foster carer, but don’t know how to go about it? Not sure if you’ll be good at it? There are some simple basic steps you’ll need to take initially to start your journey. Once your journey to foster parenting has started, you’ll find you pick it all up a lot easier and learn as you go. Becoming a foster carer is a huge step in your life and the decision to take that step does not happen overnight. So how to get started…
Who will you foster with?
There are two options you can take when fostering. You can foster through a Private Fostering Agency, or through your local authority’s fostering team. Neither is right, or wrong, it’s simply person preference.
It can be quite daunting making that first enquiry as you don’t quite know what to expect but it is our job to put you at ease and help you and your family make the right choices for you!
Your journey will consist of the 7 stages, the first being making an enquiry. Once you’ve made contact with your local author or private fostering agency, someone will contact you to chat more about it. They will be able to answer any questions you may have and will try to put your mind at ease so you can make an informed decision as to whether or not fostering is for both you and your family. It is best to be frank and honest at this point, to avoid any confusion or delay later on in the process,
The Stages of becoming a Foster Carer
Dependent on your circumstances, it will take between 4 to 6 months to become approved as a foster carer.
During this time, those assessing you will need to ensure you have all the information you need, for you to fully appreciate what fostering will mean for you and your family and for us to get to know you more so we can match you with the right foster child.
- The Home Visit
Once you are happy that fostering is right for you then someone will arrange to come and see you in the comfort of your own home. Whilst there, they will discuss what happens next into this process. They will take this opportunity to gather some basic information about you and your family, things like where you’ve lived and a summary of your various life experiences.
The main aim of this is to basically get a feel for you and your home environment and also to give you an idea of life as a foster carer and what you can expect.
- Social Worker Allocated
This is where the assessment begins. You’ll be allocated a Social Worker who will start and complete your assessment to become a foster carer! They will visit your home as many times as is needed, which is usually around 10 times over a 3/4month period.
This is to gather as much info about you and your family. They will gather references, medical checks, police checks and general safety checks. You should be prepared for in-depth checks and chats about your family history.
All of this information is put together to form what is known as a ‘Form F Report’. Don’t worry, there is no right or wrong way and no-one will be judging you as everyone has had different life experiences.
- Back to School!
Time to learn! Before you can be approved as foster carers and as part of your assessment you will need to attend what is known as a ‘Skills to Foster course’.
This is a 3 ½ day training course aimed to give you as much info about fostering as possible. You’ll be able to meet others that are also going through the same process so it gives you a chance to find out how others are getting on.
- Panel Meeting
Once your F Report has been completed, go through it with your Social Worker to make sure you are happy with it. After this you’ll be asked to attend a panel meeting.
Here, your Form F will be discussed, and you will be asked a few simple questions about it. Then, a decision will be made as to whether or not you will become a foster carer.
The panel members will then make a decision and a recommendation about your approval to the Agency Decision Maker, whose job it is to make the final decision! This all sounds a bit scary and daunting, but it really isn’t. Your Social Worker will be with you to give you any support you may need.
Fostering a child can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and with this information, hopefully an easy transition. Good luck!