HOW TO BECOME A FOSTER PARENT IN UK?
You may have already decided that you are ready to begin your journey to becoming a foster parent, but you may not be sure how to go about it and exactly what is involved. The application process for becoming a foster parent could be a lot more straightforward than you think. Our guide provides you with everything you need to know, from making an initial enquiry right through to becoming an approved foster parent and beyond.
Download Guide to Fostering here
We have streamlined our process to make it as simple as possible, we believe in keeping things simple helps you to understand how to become a foster parent. As an open and friendly agency, you can speak to us at any time to discuss any issues or problems that you may have while making your application to become a foster parent and we will help in any way that we can. We have a dedicated recruitment team, who share a wealth of experience and knowledge of the assessment process and they are available throughout the course of the assessment process.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
On deciding that you want to become a foster parent, there are a few pre-qualifying questions that you should ask yourself before making an application:
- Do you have experience with children?
- Do you have the free time required to care for foster children full-time?
- Do you have a spare room?
- Do you have patience and empathy?
- An ability to deal with challenging circumstances and difficult situations?
- Willing to learn and develop new skills in order to provide the best foster care?
- Ready for a new challenge?
If you have answered yes to all of the above then you have passed the first step!
Essentially, what we are looking for in a foster parent is someone that is able and willing to provide a safe, nurturing and supportive environment for a child who is dealing with difficult circumstances. Being able to provide a temporary home for these children during their time of great need is something that a lot of people would love to do, however in order to become a foster parent you must be assessed and ‘approved’ to be a foster carer. This status is gained through our thorough and detailed application process. Outlined below is an overview of each step in the process on how to become a foster parent:
This is the first step towards making an application to become a foster parent with us. You can do this by using our “make an enquiry” form or you can give us a call on 01582 433 775. A member of our dedicated team will call you back. This is an informal chat to tell you a little bit more about Pride Fostering and what is involved in the application process. This is also a chance for you to ask any questions that you may have about fostering children at this stage. Feel free to ask any questions that you have, no matter how big or small your concerns may be. Our friendly telephone team are experienced and are here to make sure that you have all the information you need to help you decide if fostering children is for you.
If, after the initial chat, you would like to continue with the application process, we will arrange a home visit where we will come out to see you at home. This helps us to get a feel for you and your home. We will talk through your skills and experiences along with the reasons that you want to become a foster carer and we will also make sure that your home is suitable to house a foster child. We will go over your application with you and make sure that you are aware of what will happen next. During this visit you will be asked to provide some basic identity documents and there will also be some forms for you to sign. Use this initial visit to ask any questions that you may have thought of since your initial telephone contact with us.
Once you have had your initial visit, you will need to complete an application form in order to formally express your interest in becoming a foster carer. This form will cover your personal history, background and work history amongst other things. This form is the foundation of your application so please be sure to double check all the details provided. Once we have received and processed your completed application form we will contact you to explain the next stage of the process. If you are having any trouble completing any part of the application process, please give us a call, our recruitment team will be more than happy to help you.
FULL ASSESSMENT STAGE
Once we have received your full application, you will go through what we call the ‘assessment stage’. During this stage you will be assessed on your suitability to become a foster parent and will be allocated a social worker who will undertake the assessment. There are many factors on which we base our criteria for foster carers including past experiences and qualifications. We will, of course undertake background checks as part of our safeguarding children policies, but you will be asked for your consent before any of these checks are carried out. These checks must be carried out by law and help to ensure the safety of all the children referred to us. You will also be asked to undergo a medical (at our expense) to ensure that you are fit and healthy enough to look after any children placed in your care. As part of the process of becoming a foster carer, you will be invited to a skills to foster course. This is a three day course designed to give you further insight into becoming a foster parent. Once the checks have been successfully completed you will then move on to the final stage in the application process.
The final stage to the application process is what is known as the panel interview, this is a face-to-face interview with panel members from various backgrounds and professions. These interviews are used make recommendations on your suitability as a foster parent to our agency decision maker. You will be asked questions about your application and about your personal experiences and how you may have handled difficult situations in the past. The best thing you can do in the interview is to be completely honest. The panel members are not expecting you to be perfect, making mistakes is part of life. What they are looking for is genuine, caring people who have the ability to make a real difference to the lives of the children in their care. You will be supported at panel by the social worker who completed your assessment. Pride fostering panel members are friendly and will do their best to make you feel at ease.
OUTCOME – BECOMING A FOSTER PARENT
The agency decision maker considers the recommendations from panel and will make the ultimate decision in regards to the outcome of your application and assessment to foster. This process can take a few days after the panel to complete. If your application is successful and you receive approved foster carer status you will be allocated a supervising social worker who will be ready to support you in preparation for the first young person moving into your home.
All of our new foster carers receive a personalized training programme depending on your current skills and also on the individual needs of the young people placed in your care. Our training programme helps to ensure that when a foster child arrives you have all the skills that you need to enable you to deal with any challenges that you may face. Training is not only for new carers, our training programmes are available to you throughout your time fostering with Pride. The training offered will be refresher courses but also the more specialised training to help continue your own development as a foster carer. At Pride we understand the importance of foster carers continuing to learn new skills and expand their knowledge base so that they can confidently care for young people of differing needs.
We will provide you with regular contact and updates on your application at every stage. A social worker from Pride will always be on the other end of a phone should you need further support. We are here to help you from the very beginning of your fostering journey.
We like to provide continuous and ongoing support for our foster carers and this does not stop once you are approved. You may find that you need more support during your first few placements and we are always here to support you through this time while you settle into your new role as a foster parent. We have a dedicated 24 hour support line for our foster carers as well as regular meetings with your supervising social worker. We also arrange regular local meetings with other foster carers where you can chat, swap tips and support each other. Our door is always open to you at any time of the day or night.
Pride Fostering Service is not just interested in your application, we will support you all the way through your fostering career. Join us at Pride on 01582 433 775.