Once we’ve had an initial chat with you over the phone, we will establish if it’s the right time for one of our fostering advisors to visit you at home. This is a great opportunity for us to get to know one another a little better.
Your fostering adviser will be able to answer all your questions and tell you about life fostering with FCA. They’ll explain what becoming a foster parent involves, the different types of fostering available and the next steps you’ll take on your journey.
Making an application
Once you have had your home visit or virtual visit via video call, you’ll be invited to apply. This means completing a fostering application form and giving your consent for us to obtain statutory checks and references.
What’s a fostering assessment?
Following your application once it has been accepted, we’ll undertake a fostering assessment which is carried out by your allocated assessing social worker. The assessment will include information about you and your life which helps us to identify what individual skills to foster that you have and qualities you’ll bring to the role of a foster carer.
Meet our foster parent, Sara, as she shares her experience of the fostering assessment process:
“When we started the assessment process we were a bit dubious about it all, but everything seemed to fall into place. We had a fantastic Form F Social Worker who came to speak to us and told us everything we needed to know.”
What references and checks will you carry out?
As part of the application process, we’ll carry out a number of references and checks. These include:
Disclosure and barring service
Disclosure and barring service, also known as a DBS check, (formally CRB) will be undertaken on anyone in the household over the age of 18.
Local authority check
We carry out local authority residency checks for the last ten years and enquiries to local authorities and their child protection records (including previous involvement with services for children or vulnerable adults).
If you have previously been involved in any significant relationships (usually where your relationship has lasted more than 2 years, you’ve lived together or have had children together) with your permission we will need a reference.
We appreciate there may be some instances where this is simply not appropriate we will discuss this with you.
A medical report will be completed by your GP. This report will highlight any health conditions that may affect your ability to care for children and young people. Having an underlying medical condition won’t automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster parent; it will completely depend on how you manage your condition.
We ask for written references from at least three personal referees from family or friends that know you well.
We will also need to obtain any education references for any children in the home.
Evidence of citizenship
If required you will be asked to provide the necessary evidence.
We require references from previous employers, including voluntary organisations. If you have fostered for another foster care provider, we will also contact them for a reference.
Home safety check
We will carry out a full safety check on your home to ensure the environment is safe, secure and well maintained for children and young people. We may offer some recommendations and offer advice to ensure your home will be ready for fostering a child. As part of this process any pets in your home will also be assessed.
After completing the Form F, your assessor will help you prepare for the fostering panel. This is a group of fostering professionals who will consider your assessment and make a recommendation regarding your approval as a foster carer. After panel, you’ll be an approved foster parent and can begin to foster children so you can make a real difference to vulnerable children and young people’s lives.
The process from beginning to end can take between 4 – 6 months and our foster care professionals will be there to make it as easy as possible.
To find out more about the application process or to take the first step on your fostering journey, call us on 0800 023 4561 and our fostering advisors will be happy to help.
Alternatively, you can complete our short enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Want to know what happens at a fostering panel?
Steve, Service Manager responsible for fostering assessment has a wealth of fostering panel experience and knowledge having previously been a Vice Panel Chair and then Panel Chair for a number of years. So who better than to write a blog for prospective foster parents to tell us what happens at panel.
Frequently asked questions
How do I apply to be a foster parent?
Applying to become a foster parent starts with a phone call to our fostering enquiry line on 0800 023 4561 or filling in one of our enquiry forms and we can call you back.
One of our dedicated fostering advisors will talk you through the process and the steps you’ll need to take to begin your application.
How long does the fostering application take?
The length of the application process can vary, but it normally takes around four to six months. We’ll guide you through every step of your journey and keep in regular contact with you throughout the process.
Does it cost me anything to apply?
No. It is free to apply to be a foster parent – bags of enthusiasm and dedication are all you need!
Can I apply to be a foster parent online?
You can call us on 0800 023 4561, or fill in our enquiry form to request a call back to talk to a fostering advisor before beginning the application process. Our application form is available to fill out online.
What checks are carried out?
There are vital checks and references we will need to carry out as part of your fostering assessment such as:
- Enhanced disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
- Health and safety check on your home
- Checks with your local authority or health trust social work service
- Professional / personal references and / or checks with school or college
Who will be assessing me?
When you start the application process, we’ll allocate you an assessing social worker. They’ll be your main point of contact throughout your journey and will work with you to complete an in-depth report called a Form F. This will then be presented to a fostering panel, who will make a decision about your suitability to foster.
What training will I receive to be able to foster?
We believe in learning alongside peers and offer joint training sessions for both staff and foster parents to enable the sharing of best practice and experiences.
All of our training is mapped to regulations and national minimum standards and cross-referenced to the Training Support and Development Standards in England and the Induction Framework Outcomes in Wales.
Our training programme consists of:
Introduction to Fostering - All of our foster parents complete pre-approval training during their assessment.
Induction - We have an online induction course which looks at the key areas to equip foster parents with the necessary skills and confidence to take their first child or young person.
Mandatory training - Once approved, there is a comprehensive programme of ongoing training and development available; starting with mandatory courses that all foster parents will receive.
Complementary training - We have a wide range of courses available both online and face to face to develop foster parents offering a greater depth of knowledge, theory and practical application.
Will I be employed by FCA, or self-employed?
Foster parents are classed as self-employed which means you’re entitled to tax relief on your income. You could pay very little or no tax or national insurance, depending on your own financial circumstances.
Got some more questions?
Find out the answers here.
How can we help?
Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.