To become a foster carer you and your family will need to follow a careful assessment process. The Fostering Services 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, and the regulations clarify the action required at each of these stages.
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, and ask your G.P for your medical history. We will not complete any checks without your knowledge and consent.
It might sound daunting, but please do not be put off - it's a two way process, taken one step at a time, that helps us make sure you are suitable, that the time is right for you, and for you to fully understand what's involved.
The 7 steps to becoming a foster carer
Step 1 - Ask for an information pack and speak to our duty worker
This pack will provide you with more detailed information about Suffolk's Fostering Service. You can also read about some of our existing foster carers and the different types of foster care they provide. The duty worker will be able to answer some of your questions and will begin to find out about you and your family.
Step 2 - Initial Visit
Return your 'Request for a Home Visit' form and a worker from the team will call you to arrange a mutually agreed time to visit. We will send you some further information, called The Next Steps pack, to read prior to the visit. At the visit they will begin to get to know you and your family, answer questions you may have and talk over the type of foster care you could offer. This will help us both decide whether it is the right time for you to formally apply to Stage 1. See Are you ready to foster?
Following your home visit you will be asked to return your application form for Stage 1
We will send off checks and references on you and your family.
Step 4. Preparation course
Attend a training course of five short sessions spread out over two weeks to help you decide if fostering is right for you and your family, and learn about the skills required to help you look after foster children. The course is generally run over two Saturdays and one mid-week evening and is led by social workers and foster carers who will be able to share their own experiences of fostering and answer questions you may have.
At the end of the course you will be asked if you would like to proceed to the 2nd stage of the assessment. We will continue to this next stage once we have received sufficient checks and references.
Step 5 - Complete your assessment
You will work with a dedicated social worker who will visit you and your family over a few months to get to know you and your family in much more detail and to start to prepare you all for fostering. They will ask you to do some reading and tasks as part of this assessment. During this time you will also be given the chance to meet up with a foster carer in your local area.
At the end of this, your social worker will prepare a full report for your assessment as a foster carer and you will have the chance to add any comments you would like to make.
Step 6 - Attend a fostering panel
Gain recommendation for approval from the Fostering Panel, who will fully discuss your assessment with you and decide whether to recommend you as a foster carer for Suffolk County Council. Soon after, you will receive a letter form the Fostering Service confirming the decision.
Step 7 - Start fostering
You will be supported by a team of social workers from your local area to help you provide foster care for Suffolk children, and will have access to local training and support from other foster carers.