Hello again! If you've been following 'Your Five Steps to Fostering', you'll know what happens when you make that first tentative enquiry and what an Initial Home Visit is all about. Today, we're looking at the next stage; the assessment process. So much happens during this time as Jenny, our Senior Recruitment Coordinator explains:
The application form
“We’re always excited when we receive completed application forms from people, it’s the start of an adventure, not only for the applicant, but for us too! Every single applicant has a different story to tell, so it’s always interesting.”
All together now!
“You’ll hear the words ‘Form F’, very regularly during the assessment process and we’ll discuss this in our next instalment of ‘Your Five Steps to Fostering’, but whilst you’re busy with your Form F and attending your Skills to Foster training and Pre-Panel Workshops, we’re busy behind the scenes carrying out all the statutory checks. Each of us has our own specific role, but we work together as a team and we’re all good friends. We find that good communication is key to our function; we work closely with you, supporting you and keeping you informed of developments and progress. By the time you get to the end of the assessment process, you’ll know us all very well!”
“Every fostering provider has to follow the regulatory framework known as the Fostering Services Regulations 2011. They’re part of the Care Standards Act of 2000 and they govern the way fostering services function. In line with the regulations, we have to undertake certain checks, such as gaining references from your previous employers, a Disclosure and Barring Service check for you and anyone 18 years old and above who is resident in your home or is a regular visitor (e.g. your grown-up children, your parents, your siblings or very close friends). In addition to this, we check if you are known to your local authority and in what capacity and we also pay for you to have a medical with your own GP, just to check you are fit for fostering! There can be lots of twists and turns in this process, especially for people who’ve moved around a lot and those who’ve lived and worked overseas! We will undertake all of these checks and the whole process of becoming a foster carer is completely free of charge for you.”
What happens at Skills to Foster Training and the Pre-Panel Workshops?
“These are the events you attend during your assessment process. The Skills to Foster training takes place over a weekend and offers you an insight into the role of foster carers. In total, there are five days of Pre-Panel Workshops (two Workshops per day), covering subjects such as ‘Hellos and Goodbyes’, ‘Working in Partnership with Blue Sky’, ‘Attachment’, ‘Working with Birth Parents’, ‘Parent & Child Fostering - an Introduction’, ‘A Childs Experience of Being in Care’ and more! However much you may already know, everyone needs to undertake these events and they’re a golden opportunity to meet with people going through exactly the same process as you; your fellow ‘foster carers to be’! Many people meet at our events and become firm friends, so we hope you benefit greatly from them, in lots of ways.”
How long will the assessment process take?
“We aim to complete all this within three to four months, but, as we are totally reliant on other agencies and people giving us information, we can’t guarantee it will be a quick job! I suppose the best way to look at it is that as you will be looking after very vulnerable children, we have to ensure yours and their safety, so whilst all these checks may seem like a big hurdle, it’s in everyone’s best interests they are done, thoroughly, and don’t forget, we’ll be with you every step of the way.”
What happens next?
“Once all the checks are satisfactorily completed, your Form F is nearing completion and you’ve undertaken your Skills to Foster training and Pre-Panel workshops, you will be invited to attend Panel. I’ll leave this for my colleague, Kaylie, to chat about in the fourth instalment of ‘Your Five Steps to Fostering’, coming soon!
In the meantime, we look forward to receiving your completed application form and helping you on the road to your fantastic career in fostering!”