Are you interested in becoming a foster carer? It is a topical issue at the present time because there is an estimated shortfall of almost 9,000 families between supply and demand. The number of children who need foster home accommodation has risen in the last few years, going up from 49,700 in 2005 to over 59,000 in 2011 and the Fostering Network charity says the pressure on these services is rising all the time.
It says there is a danger of a real crisis in providing the most appropriate care for those children who, for whatever reason, cannot live with their own family. All children who are being brought up in care need a family around them who can love them and help them achieve their potential.
Those interested in becoming a foster carer should have an idea of the procedure they have to go through.
1. Home visit
A social worker will get in touch with the prospective family to arrange a home visit. This will enable them to see the family in their own surroundings, look at whether the family home is suitable and learn a little about the family background, their work, experience and why they want to become foster carers. The visit will go some way towards giving social services the answers as to whether the family are suitable to become foster carers.
2. Application process
The family will have to fill in an application form which will include criminal record and other checks and the family will also be asked to take a medical exam with their own GP.
If the family passes through to the assessment stage, they will be allocated a social worker who will take the family through the process. This will involve
- Training. Preparation training in specific. This will also be useful in helping the family understand fostering a little more and enabling them to meet other people going through the same procedure.
- Home visits. This will help the social worker get to know the family better.
- Social worker report. The social worker then has to write a detailed assessment report which will recommend whether the family should or should not become foster carers. The family has the chance to read the report and say whether they agree with the recommendations put.
- Fostering panel. After the social worker’s report the matter is passed to a fostering panel who will invite the family to attend a meeting and then will decide whether or not to approve them as foster carers.
- Approval. If approved a supervising social worker will be allocated to ensure that the family have the right support in their start as a professional foster carer.