Fostering is something that many people find to be incredibly rewarding, and whether they do it just once or they do it for life, there are countless benefits not just for the child they are helping, but for their own lives too.
Yet understanding fostering and knowing where to start if this is something you are interested in can be difficult. Where can you turn for advice? What agency should you sign up with? Who will you end up fostering? There are so many questions, and plenty of research is required. With that in mind, this guide should help you with the basics and give you a better understanding about what it means to foster a child.
If you want to foster a child, there are six stages to go through to complete the process. This can take around four months on average, so make sure you are prepared to spend a lot of time getting ready to foster. The six stages are:
Once you feel ready, the first thing you’ll need to do is make contact with your chosen fostering agency. You will need to give them some information about yourself, and you can use this opportunity to ask questions to ensure you really do want to continue down the path of fostering a child.
Once you are sure of what you are doing, it’s important to attend an information evening held by the agency you are going through. This is where you will get a breakdown of precisely what is needed from you, and where you can learn about the different types of fostering. It can often surprise potential foster parents just how many ways they can help children in need.
Apply To Foster
By the time the information evening is over, you should have all the information you could need about whether or not fostering is the right step to take. Take some time to think things through – this is not a snap decision, by any means. When you are ready, you can now apply to foster. The application form is, perhaps unsurprisingly for such an important role, extremely detailed and thorough. Some of the information is needed by law, and some is needed to assess your suitability, so you will need to be completely honest when completing the form.
When your suitability has been assessed, the next step is a training session. Depending on the agency you have signed up through, this could be carried out over a number of days. This is where you’ll be shown the practicalities of fostering, and where the agency can see what you are like. This helps them to place the right children in your care.
After your training is complete, you will need to undergo an independent fostering assessment. This is carried out by a social worker who is not connected to the foster agency you are using. There will usually be six separate visits. At the same time, your legal documents will be assessed. These include your DBS (disclosure and barring service) paperwork and your identification.
Once all of this has been completed and you pass your assessment, you will receive approval to be a foster parent. The information gathered will be presented to a foster panel meeting, and you will also need to attend the meeting since there will be questions to answer.
Once you have been approved, you will be assigned your first foster child.