How long does it take to be a foster carer?
The application and assessment process
There are normally about three months between an initial enquiry and someone getting their first foster placement.
It takes this long because the council has to be 100% certain that every foster carer that we place a child with is fully prepared for the responsibility that comes with this role.
We hold information meetings every month to give people interested in fostering an opportunity to hear a short presentation and find out about the application process. You will also have a chance to talk to experienced foster carers, social workers and young people who have been fostered in Croydon.
Please contact us on 0800 112 3644 for the next available meeting. However if you simply wish to proceed with an application then call us on the same number and you will be taken through the following procedure:
Step 1: Telephone assessment
Within two working days of receipt of your enquiry a social worker will ring you at a time that is convenient. This discussion normally lasts about half an hour and allows us to make an initial judgement about whether it is worth your time proceeding with your application.
Some of the questions will be about you and other members of your household, including any children who currently live with you. Some will be about the suitability of your home. We would expect it to be safe and clean and have adequeate space for a fostered child.
- For a teenager he/she would need room for a bed and wardrobe as well as a desk for homework.
- You should have adequate living space and for this reason we will not normally consider homes where living space has been converted to a bedroom.
If you have children, then a later stage in assessment process will also involve talking to them to make sure their views are taken into account and that they fully understand what becoming a foster family means.
Step 2: Preparation groups
If the initial assessment is successful we will invite you to participate in a series of fostering preparation group sessions. Prospective foster carers are expected to attend all the sessions in this programme which runs every three to four months and includes one evening session and two and a half Saturdays
The group sessions are very enjoyable, they provide a good opportunity to find out what fostering is all about and will help you decide if fostering is right for you and your family.
On completion of the preparation group sessions we will be in a position to mutually agree whether or not you wish to move on to the final assessment stage.
Step 3: Form F
If you decide to progress your application, you will be allocated a social worker who will help you complete Form F, which is a nationally agreed assessment process designed by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.
Form F allows you to explain your personal and family history, your experiences as a child and your experiences looking after children to date.
Together with Form F you will be asked to provide the following documents:
- An enhanced criminal records check
- A medical report from your GP
- Reports from health and education agencies
- Employers references (if they apply)
- References from your child/children(s) school (if applicable)
- Reference from your mortgage lender or landlord
- Disclosure of any county court judgements
- A full health and safety inspection of your home (including electrical and gas safety certificates)
- References from three independent people (outside the family) who have known you and your family well for a reasonable period of time.
Because everybody has a different past each form will be completed differently, so there is plenty of opportunity to make additional comments about things that you believe are relevant to your application.
If you have children the assessment will also involve them being asked for their views so that we are happy that they understand what being part of a foster family might be like.
Step 4: Final assessment
The Form F report will be fully discussed with you by your supervising social worker before it is presented to Croydon's fostering panel in your presence.
- The panel will decide on your suitability to become a foster carer based on an assessment of the agreed national criteria
- The panel makes the final recommendation about your suitability to become a foster carer.
Note: If you are approved as a foster carer you need to tell us if your circumstances change (e.g. if you get a new partner or move home). The council may not be able to place more foster children with you until a re-assessment is completed.
We'd love to hear from you, use the contact details to get in touch.