It’s a big decision and one that is life-changing but at the start of the process, many would-be foster carers want a simple, clear guide to becoming a foster carer.
#1 Do your research
There is a whole raft of information out there about fostering in the UK. What does it really mean for you and your current lifestyle? What about pets? How will affect you financially and what support is available for your own children, if you have any?
#2 Look at the fostering agency options
As well as the local authority, you can choose to work with a private fostering agency. Look for how clear the information is on their website, and what information you get when you ask them for further information.
#3 Start the fostering assessment process
Once you have chosen a fostering agency, you ask them to begin the fostering assessment process. This initially involves gathering basic but important information about you, your partner if you have one, and your children, again if you have any.
STOP CHECK – by this point, you will have been given a lot of information on fostering, training and what is involved. Don’t rush into your decision. Take time to read and absorb all the information.
#4 Initial foster care training
If you have decided to continue, your application won’t progress any further until you have attended the weekend-long initial training with the fostering agency. You will meet other potential foster carers, as well as current foster parents you can give you the inside track on what it is really like to open your home and hearts to foster children.
#5 Foster care approval
With all the paperwork done and initial foster care training complete, you will be allocated a social worker who will now complete your application process. And this includes being ready for the Approval Panel.
STOP CHECK – the Approval Panel is a group of people all with a professional and personal interest in social work, working with foster children and young people and foster parents. They review your application and decide if you have what it takes on paper to become a foster carer.
Once approved, your foster care journey can really begin. You will be matched to the children that you said you want to offer a home to.
You will be approved as offering a certain kind of foster care placement. For example, you may seek approval as a foster parent offering short-term or respite care.
Or you may want to offer a stable home in the long term, which means your approval will be as a long-term foster carer.
All this can take up to eight months but it is important not to rush the process, as there is a lot to be learnt about you and what you can offer.
As a foster carer, you can develop your career by attending specialist courses so that you can offer therapeutic foster care or work with a specific group of children, such as young people leaving care.
What does your fostering future look like?
Foster Care Associates Scotland is looking for foster carers who can offer children a loving home that will see them reach their full potential. Are you that person or family who have the capacity to help a foster child?