What can you expect during a foster carer assessment?
Whether you’re preparing to undertake a foster carer assessment or thinking about becoming a foster carer and researching to get yourself prepared, we understand you might feel nervous or apprehensive about this step.
If you apply to become a foster carer with Foster Portsmouth, we’ll be there for you every step of the way.
We spoke to John, one of our assessing social workers on what happens during a foster carer assessment and why.
When will your foster carer assessment happen?
The foster carer assessment is usually the third stage in an individual or couple’s foster carer application journey.
Once an initial enquiry form has been completed, either via our website, over the telephone or in person, we’ll send you a fostering information pack to help you decide if fostering is a good fit for you.
If you find it is, we’ll arrange a visit from one of our team who will assess your suitability for fostering. This visit usually lasts about 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 can provide a safe and loving environment for a foster child.
It’s also an opportunity to ask as many questions as you can think of. I want those I assess to feel as comfortable in their decision to proceed to the next stage as I am.”
What is the fostering assessment process?
Once we receive a formal application, an assessing social worker like John will be assigned to work with you and your family throughout the assessment process.
“Once a family is allocated to me, I’ll make contact with them and arrange a home visit. It’s important that I meet with the entire family, including birth children, as you’ll all be important to the placement being successful.”
Stage 1 of the process is where the assessing social worker will start to collect information on you and your personal life through various checks such as a DBS, local authority check and a medical examination by your doctor.
“We ask for six personal references and contact a minimum of two. Personal references can include family and friends, employers or organisations you volunteer for, but I’ll explain this more when I meet you. We also ask you to undertake a preparation to foster training course.”
The process can seem intrusive, but it’s imperative that we go into this level of detail. The children that you may foster are vulnerable and have virtually all experienced significant trauma. We need to ensure that if there are issues that may impact on the foster carer(s) ability to be emotionally available to the child, parent well and cope with the emotional challenges of being a foster carer, that they are discussed and thoroughly understood.”
Stage 2 is the part where your assessing social worker will visit you and your family at home roughly 8-12 times over the coming 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, identity, health, family, personal interests, and any significant life events.
Your social worker will want to understand about your life experiences, attitudes, motivation to foster, your family, your support network, and your skills and abilities in looking after children safely and supportively, in order to assess what you can offer a child in need of a foster home.
“I usually meet with the family around 8-12 times throughout the assessment.”
The process usually takes up to 6 months, depending on how long references and the other checks take to come back, and what issues need to be resolved and discussed. Once all the information is available, your assessing social worker will share the completed Form F with you for you to add your comments to. Then it will be submitted to panel.
Are there any qualities that would help in the assessment process?
There are a number of qualities your assessing social worker would look for during the process.
“You need to have some sort of experience with children, either through parenting your own or working in a childcare environment. If you don’t have this, we would look for transferrable skills like work experience in a care setting, voluntary work with children, or looking after children of family/friends.
You need to be calm, and able to manage your emotions. Foster children can come with dysregulated emotions, so it’s important that you can manage your own emotions and be a good role model to them.
Communication is very much a key skill you’ll need to work with children. You’ll also be part of a team and will need to complete forms, reports, attend meetings and liaise with multiple agencies on behalf of the child placed with you.”
Want to know more?
If you feel ready to start your fostering journey, or if you have further questions to ask, fill out our enquiry form, give us a call on 023 9283 4071 or email us at email@example.com.