Starting your foster care journey….
Support, training, advice, and a network of other foster carers to share experiences, offer tips and lend a sympathetic ear. We offer all this to the new foster carer and their family. But what’s the process of becoming a Foster Carer with Orange Grove like?
Give us a ring. It’s as simple as that. We’ll have an initial talk with you, and then arrange a good time for one of our team to come out and see you in your own home. That’s when we can start to get to know each other, answer some of your questions, and explain a little more about the whole fostering process. Fostering is hugely rewarding – but it’s also a big decision. We’ll give you, your family and friends the support and information you need to decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Our worker will use all the information you’ve shared to write a report, which will be considered by a Social Worker. If they’re happy to move forward, you’ll need to fill in an application form, and give your consent for us to obtain the vital statutory checks and references that help keep children safe.
This involves an assessing Social Worker visiting you and your family at home several times over a number of months. It will help us understand more about your home, and the skills you could bring to the fostering role, so that the right children can be placed with you. It has to be an in-depth look, so we’ll look into your past life, including your own childhood, and past relationships, as well as your work history, your health, your interests and your hobbies. We do a wide range of references and checks. These include a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on you and anyone in the house aged 16 or over, as well as a health and safety check on your home – and your pets. We’ll also need references from three friends or family members who know you well, and who we’ll visit in their own homes too. From all this, we’ll create a document known as your Form F Report.
During your assessment period, we’ll work with you to help you build the skills you need to be a good foster carer, improving the day to day life of the kids in your care – and their life chances for years to come. Don’t worry, this process isn’t about doing tests or exams. We’ll take you through a range of modules that will build on your life experience, empathy and naturally caring attitude, giving you the chance to learn from Social Workers, our expert team and existing carers as well as sharing experiences with other foster carers to be. A three-day course at one of our offices is at the heart of this training. We’ll cover everything from what foster carers do, to understanding the particular needs of children and young people who’ll be coming to you and safer methods of caring. We’ll also explore how you can work with your family as a team, strategies for getting through difficult patches and how to support children when they leave your care.
Once your assessment report is completed, it will be presented to a Fostering Panel. You will be invited to attend the meeting. The panel includes a mix of independent members and Orange Grove people, all with knowledge and expertise around fostering. Your assessing Social Worker will be there too, so there’ll be plenty of familiar faces. It will take place in an office near you, and you’ll have a chance to discuss your Form F report with the panel and explain why you want to be a carer. The panel members will make a recommendation to Orange Grove about whether you should be approved as a foster carer with the agency.
You’ll sign a Foster Carer Agreement, and then we’ll pair you up with a supervising Social Worker, who’ll provide you with lots of support through your placements. The timing of a family’s first placement will vary, but we work with a really wide range of local authorities, so it may not be long before you’re helping your first child. We’ll make sure that the child is one that’s a good match for you and your family. In most cases you’ll get to meet them first – and in all cases, you’ll get lots and lots of ongoing support from your Social Worker, including an in-depth introduction to the child’s history – and why they are in care. You’ll also have a big support team behind you.