Every year, there are thousands of vulnerable children and young people in need of the safety, stability and support that fostering can provide.
People foster for various reasons, but the one thing they all have in common is their passion for making a real difference to children and young people’s lives.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, you might be wondering what your next steps look like. To help, we’re taking a look at the 6 steps to becoming a foster carer, and what you can expect from different stages of the application process. This guide is ideal for those wondering how to become foster parents!
Step One: Your Initial Enquiry
So, you’ve decided you’d like to be a foster carer. You’ve got a spare bedroom, some relevant skills and experience and, most importantly, the desire to provide a safe, welcoming, and loving home for a child or young person. But what happens next?
Your first step to becoming a foster parent will be getting in touch with us and submitting an initial enquiry. By submitting an initial enquiry, you let us know that you’re interested in fostering with us.
You’ll probably have plenty of questions, and we have the answers! Whether you decide to get in touch with us online, or over the phone on 0800 566 8317, one of our friendly team will be in touch with you within 24 hours.
Step Two: Your Initial Visit
Becoming a foster carer is an in-depth process and can take between 16 – 24 weeks. There are various checks and assessments that need to take place for us to get to know you better. The first of these is our Initial Visit.
Within 48 hours of your initial enquiry, one of our Assessing Social Workers will get in touch with you to find a time for an Initial Visit. They’ll meet with you either virtually or face-to-face, and will talk to you more about the role of a foster carer and everything it involves.
Your Initial Visit helps us get to know more about you and what you can bring to fostering. It’s also a great opportunity for you to learn more about fostering with us, including the kind of support we’ll offer you, our training opportunities and much more.
Step Three: Your Fostering Assessment
Following your Initial Visit, we’ll be in touch to let you know whether we’d like to continue with your application. At this point, we’ll create a Form F Assessment for you.
A Form F Assessment is a more in-depth fostering assessment and is often the longest part of the fostering application process. Depending on whether you choose to pursue our Standard Assessment or our Fast Track Assessment, this step in your fostering journey can take between 3-6 months.
The assessment process helps us figure out the suitability of your experience, skillset, home environment and support network for fostering. We’ll also undertake various checks and references, like a DBS check. It can get a bit personal at times, but this is important for us to ensure a foster child would be safe living in your home – as child welfare is our top priority.
Step Four: Your Skills to Foster Training
We want all our foster carers to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to provide excellent care for our children.
If all goes well during your assessment process, you’ll be invited to your local Compass Fostering office to partake in a 3-day Skills to Foster training course. Led by one of our experienced Social Worker’s, and one of our existing foster carers, this course will teach you the essentials skills required to care for a vulnerable child or young person.
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!
Step Five: Your Fostering Panel
By this step in your journey, you’ll have completed your Initial Visit, Assessment and Skills to Foster training – meaning you’re ready for your Fostering Panel!
The final step in the fostering assessment process, the Fostering Panel is an interview conducted by various professionals with a range of relevant skills and experience in children’s care. It’s normal to feel nervous about this stage, but by now, hopefully you’ll be confident in your ability to make a great foster carer.
In the interview, you’ll be asked a variety of questions about your reasons for wanting to become a foster carer. After the panel, the professionals will make a recommendation as to whether they think you should be approved as a Compass foster carer.
Step Six: Your First Foster Child
If your panel is successful, you’ll join the Compass Fostering family as an approved foster carer! With the ongoing support of your Supervising Social Worker and your local Compass Fostering team, you’ll be ready to start making a difference to the life of a vulnerable child or young person.
By this point, we’ll have a good understanding of your strengths and skills when it comes to fostering a child or young person. Our Family Finding Team will use this information to match you with your first foster child, taking into account the needs and requirements of the child, as well as your own preferences. This could take a few days or weeks, as we always want to make sure that the fostering match is the right one for everyone involved.
This can be a nerve wracking time for any foster parent, so we’re put together our list of 5 Things to Consider For Your First Day With a Foster Child.
Become A Foster Parent 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’s currently an ongoing national shortage of foster carers in the UK. If you have the space in your home, heart and personal life to offer a child a nurturing place to live, we’d love to hear from you.