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Your five step guide to becoming an approved foster carer

1. Initial enquiry

If you contact the fostering service you will be sent an information pack, DVD and an invite to attend one of informal information evenings.

After the information evening, if you've decided you want to do something extraordinary and become an approved foster carer for Plymouth, then one of our experienced social workers will arrange to visit you in your own home to help you decide whether to make a formal application to become a foster carer.

2. The assessment

The assessment is one of the most important parts of your journey towards becoming a foster carer. Your assessment will be carried out by a qualified Social Worker who will assess your suitability to be a foster carer, using a document you’ll often hear referred to as Form F.

Your Social Worker will visit you regularly at home so they can really get to know you and the important people in your life. The whole process usually takes around 4 to 6 months, depending on your personal circumstances. We know this may seem a very lengthy process; however, it is necessary to build up a comprehensive profile of you and the parenting environment you can offer. So we can make sure we place the right children with you.

3. Checks and references

We carry out rigorous checks to make sure that all the children and young people we look after are going to be safe in the care of anyone we approve as a carer. As the Fostering Agency, we have to meet certain legal requirements. During the assessment a series of checks will be carried out on you and other members of your household.

This includes:

  • Your local authority
  • Employers
  • The Criminal Records Bureau
  • Health visitor
  • Probation Service
  • NSPCC
  • Education providers if you have children at school
  • Medical - this is done by your GP
  • Health and Safety check on your home

4. Form F

Your social worker will write a report based on all the information they've gathered about you to present to the Fostering Panel. You and your social worker will then be invited to go to this meeting.

5. The Fostering Panel

This sounds scary but it's not! The Fostering Panel is a group of people who have a wide range of professional and personal experience of fostering or looking after children. The Panel includes experienced social workers, foster carers, people that have grown up in foster care and people with experience in working with children and young people. The Fostering Panel also has a Legal Advisor who helps in the decision making process.

The Panel receives a copy of your assessment report before the meeting to allow time to consider this carefully. The Panel will make a recommendation based on the information within the assessment and references received. They will be open minded about your application whatever your background and the recommendation will be balanced and fair. It will then be the role of the Agency decision maker to make the final decision based on the panel’s recommendation.

You can find out more about the fostering panel here:

PDF icon Information about the Fostering Panel [300KB]

“We understand this may seem a very daunting process but we’re here to help you through the whole process. It’s important you talk to your social worker if you have any questions or concerns right away.” Theresa Gleave, fostering manager.

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