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 persons 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.
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, 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. This will help us both deicde whether it is the right time for you to proceed to Stage 1. See Are you ready to foster?
Step 2 - Return your Application Form Stage 1A
This form will be included in your information pack, and once you have returned it, a member of the Fostering Recruitment and Assessment Team will contact you to discuss your application further and if appropriate arrange an initial home visit.
Step 3 - Initial visit
A worker from the team will call you to arrange a mutually agreed time to visit, and 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.
Following this visit we will start to send off for your checks and references.
Step 4. Preparation course
Attend a training course of six short sessions spread out over three 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 2 Saturdays and 2 evenings 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. You will see this report and 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 have access to local training and support from other foster carers.