How to become a foster parent

If you want to become a foster parent, you will most likely have a host of questions. The first and biggest question is often around fostering requirements.

The fact is that anyone can apply to be a foster parent – you simply need to contact a fostering agency, such as Orange Grove, to discuss whether becoming a foster carer is for you.

Why become a foster carer in the UK?

Around 65,000 children are living with foster families in the UK and more foster homes are needed all the time. Each child has his or her own special set of circumstances.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and somewhere, a child needs someone like you to provide the home they need, whether it be a temporary home or a long-term home.

The process of becoming a foster carer

The agency or the local authority, if you choose to go directly to the local council, conduct a Criminal Records Bureau check (CRB) for you and any member of your household that is over the age of 18. They will also carry out a health check on you.

Once this is satisfactorily completed, there will be a preparation period which includes training alongside other people who have applied to become foster carers. During this period, the agency or council assesses your suitability to foster and your foster care skill level. The fostering application process usually takes around four to six months.

At the end of the assessment period, your application to be a foster carer will be presented to an independent panel. This foster care panel will review your assessment and will make a recommendation on whether you can become a foster carer. While anyone can apply, there are certain factors that are assessed and evaluated. Not everyone has the temperament or facilities to ensure appropriate foster care.

Once the independent panel has made its recommendation, the agency or council makes the final decision on your suitability to foster. This assessment process gives you time to understand the expectations and demands of foster care.

Is there any support for carers?

A social worker is on hand to help you through the process and provide advice and support once you do become foster parents. There are many different types of fostering and over time you will learn your strengths and weaknesses as a foster parent. One of the biggest challenges of being a foster carer is bonding with a foster child who is later moved from your care to return to his or her family or to an adoptive family.

It takes a special person to love and care for a child knowing that the child may only be with you temporarily. While there is a joy when a child is able to return to his or her own family or a successful adoption takes place, there is also wistfulness in letting that child go.

If you’d like to learn more about fostering children and young people, then we’d love to hear from.