Process to become a foster parent

If you are thinking about becoming a foster carer, you will need to know how the process works. The fostering process is both simple and complicated. You don’t need a special type of education to become a foster carer. You don’t need experience to be a foster parent.

Even if you have never looked after children before, once your suitability to foster has been verified through an assessment process, you will be faced with the possibility of a new phase in your life – one that can be extremely fulfilling.

What you do need is the type of personality that can handle the demands of being available 24/7 to provide for children and young people who are in crisis. You will also need to have the dedication and patience to handle the ongoing demands of children who may live with you for years.

The first step

Your first step is to contact your local authority or an agency such as Orange Grove Fostercare. You simply submit your application and the approval process begins.

Throughout the process, which takes about six months, you will become familiar with the skills you already have and with the skills you need to develop to fulfil the fostering role.

Once you have passed the Criminal Records Bureau check and the health check and your assessment sessions have been completed, your application will be presented to an independent panel to review your application and make recommendations on approval. When your application is approved by the Agency decision maker, you will be provided with further training and support. You will learn what fostering is all about and how it differs from adoption.

After the assessment period, you will know if you are ready to step into the vital and important role that foster carers play in the life of a child who needs support.

Types of placement

Depending on the needs of the children and young persons in your geographic location, you will be called upon to provide health and social care that could be short term for a few days or perhaps even just overnight.

Your skills might instead be required to provide a child with a long-term fostering situation. Some children remain in foster care until they are old enough to live independently.

Children with special needs also need foster care. Sometimes these children need foster care on an ongoing basis and sometimes their families or other foster parents need respite. When respite or crises support is required foster carer duties will mean stepping in for a short period of time to provide a break for the family.

Support from a social worker

When you are a foster carer, you have access to a social worker at all times. Regardless of the questions you may have, the social worker will be able to help you.

When you are in the foster carer position, you are never left alone. You are part of a network where there are safeguards built in.