Just what does it take to become a foster parent? How many hoops are there to jump through? Do you think you can become a foster parent?
If you are considering becoming a foster carer, you are probably wondering what is involved.
THE PRE-APPLICATION PROCESS
STEP 1 – Register your interest
Children are placed with foster families through either the local authority, a fostering charity or a private fostering agency.
Each of these organizations may have a slightly different way of doing things and so by registering your interest, you are not committing to fostering through them but interested in how they work and what’s involved.
STEP 2 – More information
A fostering agency, along with charities and local authorities, will hold information events from time to time to encourage people with an interest in fostering to find out more.
Look for important pieces of information such as allowances and other financial information, the type of foster placements they are looking for, the geographical areas they are seeking foster families and so on.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
If you decide to continue, you will start the fostering application process. This is not as simple as filling in a form and popping along to an interview. It is a longer process that looks at many aspects of your life, including your home, your health and lifestyle.
STEP 3 – The initial home visit
The fostering agency wants to be sure you have all the information you need to continue with your application. You will also have questions and concerns, such as how fostering will affect your own children.
The social worker will answer all these questions and if you decide to continue, will start to complete the application form.
STEP 4 – Training
As part of the assessment process, you and your partner (if you have one), will attend a training course. Every agency does this differently, but a three-day course is not uncommon.
The course covers all kinds of topics. It is also a chance to talk with other people becoming foster carers. Quite often, as well as social workers from the fostering agency, current foster carers will be on hand too, to talk about fostering from their point of view.
Sometimes, if you have older children, they too can attend the course to find out more about what fostering is and what it will mean to them.
STEP 5 – Allocated a social worker
You are now quite far into your journey to becoming a foster carer!
After the training course, you will be allocated your own social worker. In this step, you will consider what you can offer in terms of the number of children you are prepared to foster, the age range you feel most comfortable with and the gender too, if this is important to you.
STEP 6 – Approval
Once you have completed all the steps and your application form is fully completed, your application will go to the agency’ or local authorities approval panel.
The panel is made up of people who have experience of the fostering system, either as a foster carer, a fostered child or a professional who works with looked after children. There will be people from the local community too.
The approval panel have one aim: to approve people to become the best foster carers and to approve matches with children. Sometimes, they ask to meet potential foster carers. This is not a test! They simply want to meet the people who are prepared to open their homes and lives to some of the most vulnerable children in society.
Once approved, your fostering journey really begins. You will be matched with children or a child and offer them the home that they need to grow and thrive.
It takes a matter of weeks to become an approved foster carer with Foster Care Associates Scotland. Why not start your fostering journey today?