How to become a foster carer
To become a foster carer, you and your family will need to follow a careful assessment process.
You can read about each stage, and find out how to get involved, below or download our guide to becoming a Suffolk foster carer.
The Fostering Service Regulations 2013 provides statutory regulations and guidance to all fostering services on the process for assessing a person's suitability to foster.
The process consists of two stages (as well as an initial Enquiry Phase), and the regulations clarify the action required at each of these stages.
It might sound daunting, but please don't be put off - it's a two way process, taken one step at a time, that helps us make sure you're suitable, that the time is right for you, and you fully understand what's involved.
We'll support you through every step of the process.
The initial part of the fostering process is to help you decide whether you'd like to formally apply to foster, and for us to decide whether you meet our minimum criteria.
You can contact us or pop along to one of our recruitment events. Then we can answer any initial enquiries you may have, talk you through the process, and begin to find out a little about your interest in fostering.
Once you've been in touch, we'll post or email you an Enquiry Pack, and can put you in contact with one of our foster carers to talk to you about their experience of fostering; the rewards and challenges.
If you'd then like to proceed further, simply complete and return our Next Steps form (from the Enquiry Pack).
Following this, a member of the team will then call you to:
talk to your more about fostering
answer any questions you may have and explore whether you're ready to foster
arrange a visit to your home
During the home visit we'll begin to get to know you and your family in more detail, and talk through what you think you can offer a foster child. This visit may take two to three hours, and if you're a couple we'd need both of you to be present.
We hope this visit will enable you to decide if you'd like to formally apply to foster, and whether we would accept your application at this time. If yes, you'd then be asked to complete the Stage 1 Application Form.
Stage 1 (one to two months)
During Stage 1 we'll start to take up your references and checks.
As well as visiting you and your family, we will:
make police and local authority checks
ask for references from people who know you (including family, friends, employers, schools and previous partners)
ask your GP for your medical history (we will not complete any checks without your knowledge or consent)
ask you to complete a medical questionnaire, and ask you to start a short workbook which you'd complete in Stage 2
invite you to attend a preparation training course (these are held over two Saturdays and one evening)
The preparation training course will tell you more about what's involved in fostering, and start to prepare you for the role. For Link carers this training may be undertaken at any stage in the process, or may be completed with you at home.
By this time, both you and we will be in a position to decide whether you continue to the next stage.
Stage 2 (four months)
To complete your Stage 2 home study assessment, a fostering social worker will visit you and your family at your home, around six to 10 times.
Your social worker will get to know you and your family in much more detail, look at what type of fostering may best suit you and your family, and the support you might need as a foster carer.
The assessment follows a nationally recognised format, covering legal requirements, and gathering evidence towards how you meet the Training, Support and Development Standards that all foster carers need to meet.
Your social worker will try to be flexible when arranging future visits, so they're at convenient times for you.
At the end of the assessment your social worker will write up a full report to include:
information discussed during their visits to you
the standards you have worked on
the outcomes of all the checks and references
their recommendation as to whether to approve you as a foster carer
You'll have the opportunity to read and discuss this report with your worker (except some of the references, which are confidential), and identify any areas you disagree with.
Once your assessment report is completed, you'll be ready to go to the fostering panel, which you'll attend with your social worker.
The panel will fully discuss your assessment, and decide whether to recommend you as a foster carer for Suffolk. Soon after you'll receive confirmation from the Fostering Service of their decision.
"I helped him understand that his future would be as good as he made it."
- Angela, foster carer