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The Assessment Process 

Enquiry, application and assessment

If you apply to be a foster carer with Foster Portsmouth we will take you through an assessment process to make sure fostering is right for you and your family and to assess what you are able to offer a looked after child.

From the date of your application to foster the assessment process should take no longer than five months. 

Step 1: If you would like to know more

When you call 023 9283 4071 you will reach a friendly team. If you are looking for more information, want to chat over your personal circumstances or are ready to apply to foster we will be happy to help you.

At this stage we will ask a bit about you - why you want to foster and how you feel a foster child will fit into your life. We will ask some questions about your home, your family, what you do and your experience of children and young people. We will aim to answer any questions you have to help you decide if you want to go onto the next stage.

Step 2: Meeting you at home

A member of the fostering team will visit you at home at a time convenient for you. A home visit will last about an hour and a half to two hours and will include a look around your home and garden. The home visit is about getting to know more about you and your family and assessing if you and your home are able to provide a safe and caring environment for a foster child.

It is also an opportunity for you to get to know more about fostering and Foster Portsmouth and what we can offer you should you decide to become a foster carer with us. As everyone in the household is involved in the decision to foster it is important to involve your children and wider family at an early stage.

The home visit is a good place to talk about how fostering might affect your own children and to answer any questions your children may have. The home visit will answer any questions and explore any concerns you have such as any health issues or previous contact with social services or the police. Together we will decide whether or not to continue with your enquiry to the next stage of the assessment process.

We will make sure that both you, and we, are happy to proceed.

Step 3: Assessment

Everyone who wants to become a foster carer has to go through a formal assessment. You will be invited to make a formal application and to give written consent for the required checks and references. If at any stage you or your family decide fostering is not for them you can withdraw your application and we will stop your assessment. The assessment to become a foster carer is a two stage process.

Stage 1 includes the collection of information from checks and references and your attendance at a preparation to foster training course. Stage 2 includes the writing of an assessment report evidencing your suitability to foster. The assessment report is undertaken as a series of home visits by a fostering social worker who is allocated to carry out your assessment.

In order to progress to stage 2 you must successfully complete stage 1.

In stage 1:

Checks and reference will be taken up to make sure all foster carers are safe and suitable to care for vulnerable children. These include:

- Disclosure and barring service (formally CRB) checks on anyone in the house over the age of 18
- Local authority residency checks for the last ten years
- A medical report from your GP
- Written references from at least two personal referees
- Educational references for any children in the home
- Ofsted
- References from current and previous employers if working with children or vulnerable adults
- References from previous foster care or adoption agencies
- Enquiries to local authorities and their child protection records (including previous involvement with services for children or vulnerable adults
- Ex-partner checks (with your permission)
- A full safety check on your home including pets

We will talk to you about the checks and references we need to undertake when we visit you and as part of the assessment so you will have plenty of opportunities to talk to us about any questions or concerns you may have. 

The skills to foster

We will invite you to attend a three day preparation to foster course 'The Skills to Foster' run by members of the fostering team and experienced foster carers. It is a great opportunity for you to meet other people who want to become foster carers and to learn much more about fostering. The training is informal, easy to follow and helps you prepare practically for a foster child arriving to live with you and your family.

In stage 2:

Your assessing social worker will visit you and your family at home a number of times over a few months to speak to you and collect information about you and your life. Your assessor will talk to you about your childhood and past relationships, work history, health, family and personal interests.

Your social worker will want to understand about your life experiences, attitudes, your family, your support network and your skills and abilities in looking after children in order to assess what you can offer a child in need of a foster home.

All of this information will be detailed in a report called a Form F and your social worker will make a recommendation about your suitability to foster and the age and number of children you could look after.

You will be asked to read and comment on the report. If you have already been a foster carer or have professional skills and experience in caring for other people's children we will aim to fast track your assessment by completing stage 1 and stage 2 concurrently.

Step 4: The Fostering Panel

After completing the report your assessor will help you prepare for the fostering panel. This is a group of fostering professionals who will consider your assessment and make a recommendation regarding your approval as a foster carer. You will be asked to attend the fostering panel along with your assessing social worker.

Taking into account the fostering panel's recommendation Portsmouth's Agency Decision Maker will make the final decision about your approval and the age and number of children you can look after.

If your application is not successful you will be told the reasons for this by your social worker and given the opportunity to appeal against this decision.

Step 5: Congratulations you're a foster carer - welcome to Foster Portsmouth

Once you are approved your assessing social worker will introduce you to your support social worker. Together we will start matching you to children needing a foster family and you can begin to make a real difference to vulnerable children’s lives. This is often an exciting but anxious time for new carers, but don’t worry you'll receive plenty of help and support.

Your first fostering placement

During the assessment process, we’ll really get to know you and your family and will develop a strong profile about your strengths and the type of children who will be a good match for you. Before the placement begins you’ll be made fully aware of the child’s history and why they are in the care system. We’ll provide you with all the support you need to do your best with the child and will always be there for support and guidance as and when you need it.