Application and assessment
Once you express an interest in fostering, your suitability to care for children / young people will be assessed. It is a thorough process but it is necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of any child / young person in your care. Many applicants find the assessment experience very helpful in understanding their strengths and skills.
A social worker from the fostering recruitment team will visit you in your home to discuss fostering further and answer any questions you may have.
If you and the social worker from the fostering team both agree to continue your application you will be invited to complete the pre approval course.
Once an application form has been received the following checks will commence:
- Full medical completed by your own GP
The Trust’s fostering service pays for this medical. If you have a medical condition and are seeing / or have been seen by a consultant we will also ask for a consultant’s report. The purpose of the medical is to ensure that you are healthy and fit to look after a child / young person and also to ensure that you would not be putting your own health at risk.
- ACCESS NI checks (known as police checks)
You and all members of your household aged ten years and over will have an ACCESS NI check completed. The ACCESS NI form requires forms of identification to be verified by the social worker eg. passport or birth certificate.
You will be asked to give the names of two referees who are not related to you and who have agreed to give you a reference. Your referees will be asked to complete a written reference and will also be interviewed face to face by the social worker completing your assessment. It is important that you speak to your referees to make sure they are willing to do this and that they will speak honestly about you.
- Health and Safety checklist
This checklist is completed at this early stage to ensure there are no obvious risks within your home eg. a child in foster care cannot sleep in a bedroom that is an attic conversion for which you did not obtain proper planning permission and building control approval. Any other obvious hazards will be highlighted to you to ensure the safety of the child / young person in your care.
There are some other checks that we will ask for if they apply to you:
- In the event you are not the home owner you will need to inform the owner of the property of your intention to foster. It will also be necessary to reflect this in your home insurance documentation if you become a foster carer.
- If you are a parent and have school age children we will ask your health visitor for a report.
- If you have been in a previous relationship and there are children to that relationship we will wish to speak to your ex partner.
- If you have had involvement with social services the social worker will explore the circumstances surrounding this and the implications for you in your role as a foster carer.
A social worker from the fostering team will complete a detailed assessment on you and your family. You will work closely alongside the social worker in completing this assessment. It is important that you talk openly and honestly to the social worker about your life and family during this assessment process, which is usually carried out within four to six months. You will then have the opportunity to read the report and add your own comments. During this time you will be able to consider how fostering will affect you and your family and friends, and reflect on topics raised with you by the social worker.
During the assessment the social worker will also spend some time talking to your children to ensure that they understand how fostering will affect them and also answer any questions that they have. You are free to withdraw from the process at any time, similarly there may be things arising from your assessment that the social worker feels needs to be discussed with their line manager. Sometimes the social worker and line manager will bring concerns to the Fostering Panel for discussion and advice. You will be kept fully informed throughout the process.
The completed assessment is brought to a Fostering Panel for approval. In most instances you will have the opportunity to attend the Panel. The Panel is made up of mostly senior social work staff and an experienced foster carer. The Panel consider your assessment and make the decision whether to approve you as a Trust foster carer. Your approval as a foster carer is reviewed every year.