Should I Become A Foster Parent With Social Services or Through An Independent Agency?

Becoming A Foster Carer - DecisionsOnce you are sure you are ready to become a foster carer, the first decision you will need to make is whether to foster with your local Social Services (SS) or through an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA).

Social services will place local children with their own foster carers, however when there are not any appropriate matches, a referral is made to independent fostering agencies (like Affinity Fostering) that they work with, to see if they have a suitable vacancy.

Independent fostering agencies receive referrals from a number of social services and therefore children can come from far and wide, though there is always an emphasis on keeping children at the same school if at all possible.

Choosing The Right Organisation To Become A Foster Carer With:

Once you have decided on an organisation to become a foster carer with, it is advisable to visit the OFSTED website and find the latest Inspection report for that social service or fostering agency.

Different agencies specialise in various types of fostering and operate differently. Their latest OFSTED Report will offer you valuable insight into the type of support and training that is on offer within that Organisation.

Tip: Becoming a foster carer can be tough so it is vital that quality support is available to you on a 24/7 basis.

Becoming A Foster Carer: The Application Process

Once contact has been made with the chosen social service or independent fostering agency, the application process should commence quickly and efficiently.

Tip: If it progress is slow with your chosen organisation then question your choice, and perhaps look for an alternative fostering agency.

Here is an overview of the process of becoming a foster carer:

  1. 1. A qualified social worker visits the applicant’s home, to discuss becoming a foster carer in more detail. Clarity at this stage about the type of fostering that appeals to the prospective foster carers, will help the social worker to explore that area more fully.

  2. 2. Application paperwork is completed. There’s quite a lot of initial paperwork but it’s all necessary to adhere to the stringent regulations that relate to fostering.

  3. 3. Attend a Skills to Foster Course. These range between 2 and 4 days and go into all the aspects of fostering in fine detail. It is necessary for both applicants to attend if it’s a couple that are applying to foster.

  4. 4. A Social Worker will commence a ‘Form F Assessment’ by visiting your home and conducting a comprehensive assessment of your history, education, lifestyle and day to day lives.

  5. References will be needed and any ex-partners will be interviewed. Your home will be assessed from a health and safety aspect to ensure that it is safe for children to be placed there.
  6. This process can take about 3 months. This assessment document also helps with matching a child or young person.

  7. 5. The Form F is presented by the Social Worker to a Panel of professionals who come from all backgrounds. The panel may include a teacher, foster carer, ex-fostered young person, health professional to name a few.
  8. The Prospective Carers are usually asked to attend the panel as well and whilst most find it a bit nerve racking, there is plenty of support from your social worker.

  9. 6. If all of the above goes well, then approval is given. You will have become a foster carer and a placement will be made with you as soon as there is a suitable match.

Becoming A Foster Carer, What Next?

So you've deciding you want to become a foster parent.

You've read our guide and have a greater understanding of the application process (don't worry, we know it's quite daunting, but we're here to help!).

What next?

By reading this article you have taken an important first step into fostering. We recommend you continue researching fostering agencies and learning what it takes to become a great foster carer.

We have a number of great articles that might be of interest to you:

Short Term Fostering

Long Term Fostering

Ultimate Fostering FAQ

Fostering Quiz

If you think you are ready to become a foster carer then we would love you to consider joining our agency.

Affinity Fostering are are an OFSTED Outstanding rated fostering agency and would love to talk to you about becoming a foster carer with Affinity.

For a no-obligation, informal chat about becoming a foster carer please call 01245 237158 today, we would love to hear from you.
We're happy to answer all fostering questions!