Becoming A Foster Carer
Having previously mentioned points to think about in the early stages of becoming a foster carer, we thought it was time to go into a little more depth about the process as a whole.
What exactly is required when becoming a foster carer?
Am I going to have inspector visits to my home?
How long will it all take?
What will they want to know about me and my family?
It’s natural to have plenty of questions when we embark on a new chapter in life. However, becoming a foster carer is the kind of chapter in which the stakes can be higher. The decisions made early on have a real, lasting impact on a select group of people, and not just yourself and your immediate family. At Perpetual Fostering we strive for excellence in supporting the amazing people who foster with us. We believe in empowering our foster carers throughout the relationship, and that starts with transparency. So read on for insights into how the placement process plays out, our mindset and thinking behind each step, and where potential foster carers fit into the journey.
After the initial enquiry, things kick off with a response call, during which candidates are asked around 10-12 questions, largely covering:
- whether you have a spare bedroom, i.e. one solely available for a foster child
- any past misdemeanours or criminal convictions
- the status of your overall health
- past relationships
- your financial health
- whether you have any dangerous animals in your household
- the motivation behind your interest in fostering
Following on from this, an initial visit is made to the household, the purpose being to inspect the potential home of a foster child. The social worker responsible then summarises these findings to their manager. After this, the candidate is invited to a three-day skills and assessment workshop. This involves an evaluation of the actual person; what kind of personality and temperament they possess, how they respond to challenging situations, their interpersonal skills, and so on.
Last but not least, a series of home visits – between six to eight different occasions in total – are carried out, with each visit lasting around two to three hours. Home visits are conducted with the view of:
- getting the measure of the overall stability of the family and home environment.
- building an accurate chronology and understanding of the family unit
- enquiring about the relational health of family members, i.e. if there is a string of failed relationships on the part of the parents.
- Statutory, Health, Local Authority and Sex Register checks – amongst others – are also carried out around this time.
This is the final step involving the candidate and their family, with the final verdict being communicated fairly promptly thereafter: the whole process generally requires around eight months in total.
To summarise, it’s important not to view the above as a number of overly-meticulous steps. For one, this level of careful consideration is just as crucial for potential foster carers, in determining whether foster caring is genuinely for them, as it is for fostering agencies to able to safeguard vulnerable foster children. Consider each step as an opportunity for self-reflection, especially in the early stages of such a significant life decision.
For another, being honest, conscientious and transparent with each answer, at each and every stage, can ensure smooth progression through the assessment process. Again, these checks are just as much about looking out for you as they are about protecting those arguably most affected by fostering: the children themselves.
If you’re considering becoming a foster carer, are curious about what is required, and want to find out more about the process, we encourage you to read more, or get in touch with us.