Foster care application & approval process
There are lots of myths about the fostering application process and what's involved. But it can take as little as six months to be approved as a foster carer and matched with your first child, children or young person. And we're here to help. Throughout your approval journey, the Foster with North East Hub will support you through the assessment process.
Our social workers here at the hub will also take you through our bespoke package of pre-approval training to ensure you are equipped with the tools and knowledge you need to welcome that first young person into your home.
Once we have passed your application onto your local authority, they will be your main point of contact and who will guide you through your assessment process.
However, our hub officers will offer check in phone calls or contact to answer any questions you may have or reassure you of the process.
Foster care approval, your step-by-step guide
We've created a step-by-step guide to answer all those common questions about the foster care application process. It shows you what you should expect and when, and who you can turn to for help along the way.
Our first conversation
Once we've received your initial enquiry, we will arrange to talk to you over the phone, in person or online. We'll explore your interest in fostering, your home and personal circumstances. To help you get to know us, we'll explain how we work with you and the children in need of foster care. You can expect this call to last around 30-40 minutes. Our first conversation will help both parties decide if it's the right time to take an application further.
We hold regular information events where you can meet some of the team, hear from foster carers themselves and learn all about the application process. You don't have to attend an information event to progress with us, but many people find it useful to hear about fostering in a group and meeting others in a similar position. View our upcoming events here.
Expression of Interest
Prior to submitting an official application to be a foster carer you will complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) form with the Foster with North East team.
After you've completed your Expression of Interest (EOI) and if both parties decide to take your enquiry forward, a social worker from a local authority will organise a home visit with you. When they come to meet you, they will look around your entire home and meet you and your family members.
The home visit gives us an opportunity to find out more about you, your values, motivation, and personal circumstances. You will have the chance to ask questions about fostering or to speak to us about areas specific to your own situation.
Following the home visit we will discuss whether both parties would like to progress to the next stage. If we don't feel it is right for you to progress, we will be honest and open about the reasons why. If we feel it is right for you to progress, you will officially move into the application process and start Stage 1. We will also talk through what else we think would help you to prepare for fostering.
Stage 1 - starting the official application
During Stage 1 you will complete an application form - your social worker can support with this if needed. The form requests detailed information about you, so you'll need to set aside a good amount of time to complete it and it will ask for your consent for checks such as medical assessments and DBS. It will also ask you to provide an overview of your life including dates for education, employment, house moves and relationships. You will also need to provide employment and family references.
This may sound like a lot of checking, but it is a standard requirement across all fostering agencies, and is all about making sure that as local authorities we are acting in the best interest of children.
Stage 2 - starting the assessment
Once all of the information and results of the Stage 1 checks come back, you will start the formal assessment part of the process under Stage 2. At this point, a qualified and experienced social worker will come out to your home to talk more in depth with you and your partner (if you are applying as a couple).
The assessing social worker will ask about your lives, backgrounds, how you were brought up, and what makes you the people you are today.
The visits will be planned in advance with you, and you'll know when the social worker is coming. This process is sometimes called the Form F home study assessment. Following each session, you will be asked to do some thinking, and planning to contribute to the final assessment report.
The social worker will also want to talk to your children or other family members who live in your home, both with you and without you there. For applicants who are in a relationship, the social worker will meet with each of you individually as well as together during the assessment.
The assessment helps us build up a good picture about you and your family. It will inform decisions about what ages and numbers of children you may be able to look after, and what needs you could confidently meet.
You will start fostering training during your application process. Your first foster care classes will be the Skills to Foster Training and Preparation course. The course is specially designed to help prepare people for fostering. You'll find out more about what is involved, the role of a foster carer and the team of other professionals you will join. You'll gain an understanding about the needs of children who have come to be looked after. You'll learn skills to support children and young people and how to manage and maintain links with birth families.
The training will provide you and your assessor with evidence for your home study assessment. In particular, it will help us assess your understanding of how to meet the needs of looked after children. This course is run over a series of sessions, over a two day period. Depending on the needs of each group, it may be run over shorter evening sessions, or weekends.
If you're part of a couple, both parties must attend. You may also wish to bring along older children (16+) and young people.
Assessment and panel
Once your fostering social worker has gathered all the information needed to complete their home study assessment report and make their recommendation, you will be asked to attend a fostering panel. Fostering panels are made up of people who have experience relevant to fostering, and/or looked after children. Panel members will read the full assessment report and consider any questions or matters they need to check. Together they will make an informed decision as to whether you are approved as a foster carer or not. They will also outline the age range and number of children you will be able to look after.
The support available to you doesn't end at approval. Your social worker will continue to offer advice and guidance throughout your career with us. You will be invited to training and support groups where you can start to build relationships with other foster carers and more professionals, so you truly feel part of the fostering community. You might also want to explore joining the Mockingbird programme.
Once a child or children is/are matched with you, your social worker will continue to support you and help you understand the individual needs of the child or children in your care. You will also start to work with other professionals such as children's social workers, service managers, health professionals, teachers and Independent Reviewing Officers. This team of professionals will work with you in the best interests of the child or children in your care.
Your fostering enquiry
It's easy to make an enquiry with us. Simply fill out our enquiry form and one of our Foster with North East hub officers will get in touch to chat you through the next steps. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 0800 917 7771 and one of our friendly team will be happy to help.
Don't worry if you aren't sure if fostering is right for you, or you're not quite ready to progress, you haven't made any commitments by simply enquiring. We're happy to talk to you, tell you a little about ourselves and answer any questions you may have.