Embarking on your career as a Foster Carer with Safehouses Fostering can either start with a telephone call on 01457829111, an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a visit to our office in Oldham.
Once you have registered your interest to become a Safehouses Foster Carer we will then arrange to visit you in your home to give you the opportunity to ask questions about fostering with us and to enable us to find out more about you and your family.
Due to the unique nature of fostering, the application process, from initial enquiry to approval, can take up to six months. We understand that this may sound like a long time, however, a career as a Foster Carer is life changing and cannot be compared to any other profession. The application process is thorough due to the unique nature of the fostering task and the importance of the role of a Foster Carer. As part of your assessment process you will also undertake valuable training on our ‘Skills to Foster’ course. This is mandatory, and must be attended, for your assessment to progress.
Safehouses Fostering appreciates that you will have many questions, queries and concerns about fostering and the impact it will have on your life. The application process is tailored to provide you with the opportunity to address these, and any other issues you may have, as well as presenting you with the time to get to know us and vice-versa.
Throughout your assessment, Safehouses Fostering will work closely with you to ensure that you have all the information and support that you need to evaluate if fostering is the right decision for you and your family.
Safehouses Fostering is always happy to hear from people interested in Fostering, if you have a query or would like more information please do not hesitate to contact us.
The agency currently follows the assessment process of Foster Carers as set out by BAAF, this is further described as Stage 1 and Stage 2 process.
There are several pieces of information that we will need to begin your assessment process these include:
- your full name, address and date of birth;
- details of other adult household members;
- details of children in the your family (whether or not they are members of your household) and any other children in your household;
- particulars of your accommodation;
- the outcome of any request or application made by the either yourself or any member of the your household, to foster or adopt children or for registration as an early or later years provider under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006
- the name and address of any fostering service that the you may have been an approved Foster Carer for in the preceding 12 months;
- names and addresses of two persons who will provide personal references for you;
- details of any current and any previous marriage, civil partnership or similar relationship.
In order for Safehouses Fostering to progress your application process we need to fully assess your suitability as a Foster Carer. For this purpose you must achieve the following:
- Each member of your household aged 16 or over will need to complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Certificate;
Police checks will be necessary for everyone aged sixteen and over in your household. Should you have a criminal record for a minor offence, such as motoring, do not let this stop you applying to become a Foster Carer; you should speak to a member of Safehouses Fostering staff who will be able to advise you on whether it is possible for you to proceed.
- We will also a request for you to undergo a medical with your own medical practitioner to ensure you do not have major health problems.
Once this medical assessment has been completed by your medical practitioner we will send the report to our agency’s medical advisor. They will comment on the information contained in the report and give their views and decision on your current health and how this will impact on your role as a Foster Carer.
- At Stage 1, if we are happy with the initial information you have given us, you will be asked to fill in a Declaration Form giving the agency permission to send out for your personal references and also Local Authority checks.
Once all the above information has been gathered, Safehouses Fostering will then make the decision based on the information collated at Stage 1 on whether or not to continue your application to Stage 2 of the Assessment Process. At Stage 2 of the process, if appropriate, you will be formally asked to submit your fostering application form to the agency.
The above is classed as Stage 1 of the Form F assessment application.
After the above information has been gathered, and your application has been received a Assessing Social Worker from the Safehouse Fostering will make contact with you. This person will meet with you and your family for a number of sessions in order to complete a document known as the ‘Form F’ report. The Form F report summarises information about you and your family’s personal backgrounds and the strengths you have, areas where you will require support and the number, age range and gender of children you will be suitable to foster for.
The Form F report will include information upon you and your suitability to foster and will include information such as:
- details of your personality;
- your religious persuasion and your capacity to care for a child from any particular religious persuasion;
- your racial origin, cultural and linguistic background and capacity to care for a child from any particular racial origin or cultural or religious background;
- your part and present employment or occupation, standard of living, leisure activity and interests;
- your previous experience (if any) of caring for your own and other children;
- your skills, competence and potential relevant to your capacity to care effectively for a child placed with you.
Your Assessing Social Worker will work closely with you and you will be fully involved in completing this report and will be asked to sign it on completion. You will, therefore, have the opportunity to discuss, alter or disagree with anything that has been written prior to the report being signed off and presented at Panel.
As part of the assessment process you will be invited to attend a three day ‘Skills to Foster’ course where you can learn more about what the fostering task involves. This course will provide you with an opportunity to meet other people who are also interested in becoming Foster Carers and to talk to existing Safehouses Fostering Foster Carers and some of our staff who will be running the course. This course is usually completed prior to the Form F Assessment commencing. During the Assessing Social Worker visits, they will talk about the skills and qualities Foster Carers need and they will also discuss the particular needs of children who are fostered/Looked After. You are required to show evidence of the life skills you have, known as ‘competencies’. The Assessing Social Worker will help you identify this information and experience in order to present it in an appropriate way via the report. As part of the assessment the Assessing Social Worker will need to visit at least six personal referees (who are not relatives) and meet with any birth children who are not living with you along with any ex-partners with whom you have had a significant relationship, e.g. fathers or mothers of birth children.
These references will be taken before the assessment process can begin. (During Stage 1 of the Assessment Process.)
Once all the appropriate checks and references have been completed and the Form F report has been signed by all the relevant persons, this information will be presented to Safehouses Fostering’s Fostering Panel who will decide whether to approve you as a Foster Carer. The Panel compromises various professionals and also independent Social Workers.
You will be invited to attend this Panel alongside your Assessing Social Worker. When you are approved, we will send you a letter and contract confirming your approval category, which will state the number and ages of children you can foster. You will then be considered for placements with Safehouses Fostering.
The Form F report is then used to share information with Local Authority Social Services as and when appropriate referrals are received and in line with the agency’s matching policy regarding placing children. The Form F is an essential tool, which Local Authority departments use when identifying placements for their Looked After Children. They can read about you and your family and decide whether you are a suitable match for the children they want to place.
You are welcome to ask us any questions you may have throughout the application process either direct via the office, or with your Assessing Social Worker.
Your Foster Care approval will be reviewed annually, or whenever there is a significant change in your personal circumstances or if a complaint or allegation is received. This is undertaken via the carer review process. The review process is also there to discuss any complaints allegations made and the outcome of any investigation that may have taken place due to a complaint/allegation being made.
The assessment process is designed to protect the children that all fostering service providers look after. All fostering decisions must focus on the interests of the children who need fostering support. Therefore, although six months may seem like a long time, however, in relation to the fostering task Safehouses Fostering considers the assessment process to be a necessary and valuable asset. The assessment process provides us with time to get to know you, and gives you time to fully understand and appreciate the unique role of a Foster Carer.
We welcome any enquiries you may have about the assessment process.