If you’re interested in fostering with Compass, you might be wondering what your next steps will bring. To help, we’re taking a look at the 6 steps in our fostering process, providing insight into what to expect from every stage of your fostering application.
So, you’ve decided you want to be a foster carer. You’ve got a spare bedroom, some relevant skills and experience, and more importantly, a genuine desire to provide a safe and welcoming home for a child in need. But what happens next?
Your first step will be to get in touch with us and submit an initial enquiry. This is how you can let Compass know that you’re interested in fostering with us.
You’ll probably have plenty of questions at this point, and we’re here to answer them as quickly as possible! Whether you decide to get in touch with us online, or over the phone (0800 566 8317), one of our friendly team members will be in contact with you within 24 hours.
The road to fostering is a comprehensive process that can take between 16 – 24 weeks to complete. There are a number of checks and assessments along the way, but the first of these is your Initial Visit.
Within 48 hours of an initial enquiry, one of our Assessing Social Workers will be in touch with you to arrange a home visit. They’ll meet you virtually or face-to-face, and will tell you a little bit more about the role of a foster carer and everything it entails in detail.
Your Initial Visit allows us to learn more about you as a person and understand what you can bring to fostering. It’s also a great opportunity for you to find out more about fostering with Compass, including the kind of support you’ll be able to receive, our training opportunities and more.
After your Initial Visit, we’ll be in touch with you to let you know if we are proceeding with your application. Should the outcome be positive, we’ll create a Form F Assessment for you.
A Form F Assessment is an in-depth fostering assessment that is often the longest part of the application process. Depending on whether you choose to pursue our Standard Assessment or out Fast Track Assessment option, this particular step in your fostering journey should take 3-6 months in total.
Throughout the assessment process, we evaluate the suitability of your experience, skillset, home environment and support network for fostering. We also undertake a number of important checks and references, including a DBS check. This can get a bit personal at times, but it is vital for us to ensure that the foster child will be safe in your home – as child welfare is our top priority.
We want our foster carers to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to always provide exceptional care for our children.
If all goes well with your assessment, you’ll be invited to your local Compass Fostering office to attend a 3-day Skills to Foster training course. Led by one of our experienced Social Workers, as well as one of our existing foster carers, this course is designed to equip you with the skills required to care for a vulnerable young person or child.
The Skills to Foster course is also a great opportunity to connect with other potential foster carers who are going through the same process as you!
The final step in the assessment process is the Fostering Panel, an in-depth interview conducted by a number of professionals with a range of skills and experience in caring for children. It’s normal to feel a bit nervous at this stage, but by now, you should be confident in your ability to be an excellent foster carer.
In the interview itself, you’ll be asked a series of questions about your reasons for deciding to foster. And finally, after the panel, the professionals will make a final recommendation as to whether or not to approve you as a Compass carer.
Step Six: Your First Foster Child
Should your panel be successful, you will join the Compass Fostering family as one of our latest approved foster carers! With the support of your Supervising Social Worker and the steadfast presence of your local Compass Fostering team, you’ll be ready to start making a difference to the life of a young person or child.
By this point, we should have a solid understanding of your strengths and skills when it comes to fostering. Our Family Finding Team will use this information to match you with your very first foster child, taking into account the child’s needs and requirements, as well as your own individual preferences. This could take a few days or weeks to complete, as we strive to ensure that the child you are placed with is the right decision for all parties involved.
Start Your Fostering Journey with Compass
At Compass, our foster carers come from a variety of different backgrounds and life experiences. We pride ourselves on seeing the potential — not perfection — in all our foster carers, looking at what each individual can bring to the role and supporting them at every turn.
There is an ongoing national shortage of foster carers in the UK. If you have the space in your heart and home to provide a child with a nurturing environment, we’d love to hear from you.
For more information on how to become a foster parent, have a read through our definitive guide.