Preparation and assessment as an approved foster carer involves the following stages.
There is no hard-and-fast rule about how long this process takes; it depends on factors such as your availability to meet with a Social Worker.
As a general guide, the Government benchmark for approval is eight months from the start of assessment (the benchmark for connected carer placements is 16 weeks).
Request an Information Pack by contacting the Local Authority. Most prospective foster carers choose to contact the Local Authority where they live (so they can foster children from their own Borough). However you can become a foster carer with any Local Authority (or Independent Fostering Agency (IFA)) with whom you can work on a practical basis. The important factor is your confidence to build a strong relationship with the fostering service – you will need to be able to communicate with them openly and trustingly, and welcome professionals from that particular Local Authority (or IFA) into your home.
After reading and processing the information in the Information Pack, you will be able to progress your enquiry further. You will be able to meet with a Social Worker to discuss your individual circumstances. Each Local Authority will offer a slightly different route to requesting a visit, so check the Information Pack for details.
Once you decide to start the process of assessment – and the Local Authority is in agreement – the assessment stage involves a series of visits to your home, usually eight to ten sessions of around 2 hours each visit. Visits include meetings with household members.
You will attend a preparation and training course. Again, each Local Authority offers a slightly difference format of training. Check with your Local Authority for specific information.
A Social Worker presents your home study to a Panel who will consider your application.
The Agency Decision Maker will make a final decision about whether you should be approved.
If you are approved, your Supervising Social Work will work with you to match you with children needing placements.