Step-by-step guide to becoming a foster carer
Here is a step-by-step guide to becoming a foster carer. It covers the following: the initial enquiry, information evening, home visit, training, assessment and the fostering panel.
Step 1 - Initial enquiry
If you are thinking about fostering for Harrow, please contact us or attend one of our information evenings where you can meet us and learn more about what is involved.
Foster carers do not need to own their own home. They can be in privately rented, housing association or council accommodation. Fostered children over the age of 2 will need to have their own bedroom but children under the age of 2 can sleep in a cot in the foster carer’s bedroom.
Step 2 - Home visit
Following attendance at the information evening we will arrange to visit you at home to answer any questions you have and together we will begin to look at whether you will be able to foster.
Step 3 - Preparation training
If the initial home visit is positive, we will invite you to attend our 'skills to foster' preparation training group/session. This is provided for our prospective foster carers, to learn more about the fostering job in more detail. Training is provided by our fostering team and includes foster carers and former looked-after children. Attendance is a requirement for approval as a carer.
Step 4 - Assessment
Following successful attendance at the preparation training, applicants will be allocated a social worker who will begin an assessment. This involves several home visits to you and your family, collecting information and getting to know you.
During our conversations, we will also discuss with you what age and/or gender of child would be most appropriate for you and your family to foster. Various checks will be undertaken, including Disclosing and Barring Service Check (DBS), personal references and medicals.
Taking care of someone else’s child is one of the most important and responsible tasks you can undertake which is why we need to be so thorough in the assessment process. We then write a report which we ask you to read and agree.
Step 5 - Fostering panel
The completed report is then presented to our fostering panel to consider. You will be invited to attend, along with your assessing social worker.
The panel meets once a month and will make a recommendation to the agency decision maker about whether to recommend your approval and, if so, for what age and number of children.
We aim to complete the assessment process within six months.
Step 6 - Looking after a child
When we match a child who needs a placement with your approval type, skills and knowledge, we will get in touch. This may be within a few weeks of your approval.
Step 7 - Support and development
Following your approval as a Harrow foster carer you will be allocated a supervising social worker who will hand you an initial Welcome Pack - which includes a Foster Carer Handbook- and who will continue to support you as a foster carer - on the phone and in person.
You will have access to a range of training courses to meet your identified training needs.
Within your first year of fostering you will complete your Training and Development Standards portfolio – an opportunity to showcase your growing skills and abilities as a foster carer!