From the moment you first consider becoming a foster carer you are on a journey to discover if fostering is right for you and what kind of carer you might be.
That journey is made together with the social workers from Worcestershire’s Fostering Service. 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 two stages in parallel. 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.
Registering your interest
Once you have read the Fostering Information Pack and considered all the information, you can register your interest in fostering on our website. A recruitment worker will call you back by telephone to carry out an ‘Initial Enquiry’. They will ensure you have received all the relevant information and talk to you about your enquiry in more detail and establish whether you have a spare bedroom available for a child or young person.
Following on from this initial discussion, one of our social work team will call you and take a ‘Full Enquiry.’ If the time is right for you and your family, our social worker will arrange to visit you (and your partner if relevant) in your own home.
During the Home Visit, if you have any further questions we will be able to answer them for you. 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 be invited to attend a preparation training course (Skills to Foster Training) and also given an application form to complete, sign and return.
Stage One – Registration & Checks
Once you submit your formal application form, Stage One can begin.
We will take up a number of statutory checks and references, e.g:
- Disclosure and Barring Service which is a criminal background check
- Personal references, from family members and two 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.
Stage Two – Assessment
Your social worker will meet with you regularly throughout this period to carry out a full assessment. 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.
On completion of the assessment, it is written up into a report called the Prospective Foster Carers’ Report, 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, which will be passed to a senior manager who makes a final decision based on all of the reports and minutes of the panel meeting.
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. As a Worcestershire foster carer you can be guaranteed of being the first pool of carers we go to when children require fostering.
Being approved at panel is just the start of your journey as a foster carer!
The Fostering Service will support you through each placement and you will receive training and further professional development throughout your career as a foster carer for Worcestershire County Council.
Find out more about the support and training available.