What happens at panel?
Fostering panel will take place at an office near you. It’s a meeting consisting of about eight or nine independent panel members who have related fostering experience and skills. At the meeting they will sit down and together will look through your Form F to discuss the type of fostering placement that’s right for you and make recommendations about your suitability to be approved as a foster parent.
At the meeting, you may have to answer some additional questions, it is difficult to know what those questions will be as this very depends on the content of your Form F assessment. But for example, if you have your own children, you could be asked questions about how they feel about being part of a family that fosters.
How long will it take?
Panel meetings usually about an hour. You won’t be on your own either; your assessing social worker will be there to fully support you on the day. You’re often informed of their recommendation on the day. This recommendation will inform the decision of the agency. An FCA Manager is the agency decision maker and will make the final decision, so you can expect to be informed up to a week after.
Sometimes the panel may recommend that you need a little more time to prepare for fostering. If this happens, our fostering team will work with you to provide additional pre-approval training and support to help get you ready to begin your fostering journey.
How soon can I start to foster?
The time you have to wait before getting your first foster child is different for every foster parent and family.
It depends on your personal circumstances and how soon we can find a match that’s right for you and the child or young person. We receive referrals from local authorities every day and, because we have contracts with over 90% of local authorities, you might not be waiting as long as you think.
You’ll have regular contact with your supervising social worker who’ll discuss with you in detail the needs of the young person before they are placed with you and answer all your questions. Wherever possible, your social worker will arrange for you to meet the child before. We want to make this transition as smooth as possible for you and your family.
Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
What kind of support will I receive?
We wouldn’t expect anyone to foster without the right support, so when you foster with FCA you are not alone.
Become a foster parent with us and you have access to:
- Social Work Support– you will have a dedicated supervising social worker who is your main point of contact and will organise monthly meetings and support for you whenever you need it
- 24 / 7 support
- Training and development - We will prepare you to foster and keep developing your skills with an ongoing training programme featuring both face to face and online courses thorough our Learnative portal.
- Events and activities – we host a range of events and activities for all the family to enjoy.
- Online portal – Join our online community with our portal The Exchange just for FCA foster parents. It gives you free and instant access to information and advice right when you need it – day or night, 365 days a year. Plus access to a range of discounts to some major retailers and online stores.
- Fostering Network membership - useful and practical benefits, including insurance, legal protection, medical and stress advice helplines, as well as a foster care magazine.
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.