‘Safe placements are promoted through robust recruitment, preparation, assessment and approval of foster carers, comprehensive policies and procedures and excellent training for both staff and foster carers. This results in a safe service which has safeguarding and promoting children’s and young people’s well-being as its primary focus.’ Ofsted Nov 2014
The application and assessment process for prospective foster carers is rigorous and thorough. When you express an initial interest in fostering with Children Always First, we will visit you to talk about the agency, the way in which we work, and what is involved in terms of assessment and the requirements of the role.
It is a great opportunity for you and your family to find out more about the process of becoming of foster carer. After you have heard all about our service and what fostering actually entails you will be able to make a formal application, should you still be interested in working with us.
You will be asked to fill in an application form about yourself and other members of your household. This form gives the agency permission to carry out a variety of background checks.
In order to safeguard the children we care for, we need to carry out various checks. These include checks with the Disclosure & Barring Service and Local Authority checks. Medical, personal and employment references are also necessary.
It is not be possible for people to become foster carers if they have committed any offences against children, or some other serious offences. We will explain more about this during the initial enquiry and initial visit.
You will receive an invitation to attend the mandatory pre-approval training, where you’ll learn more about what’s involved in fostering. This is also a chance to meet other people who are going through the process, and talk to experienced foster carers.
The three day course (run monthly on Saturdays) explores why children arrive in care, the effects on them of poor parenting, positive ways of caring, attachment theory, safeguarding and many other useful inputs.
We also invite all of our aplicant carers to all of our training from recieving the application form. Getting this solid base in fostering early doors proves an invaluable induction.
The Form F Assessment
Concurrent with the course, you will be allocated a social worker who will carry out your personal assessment. They will explain the skills and qualities that foster carers need. They will also discuss how you can demonstrate your skills through practical examples of activities you’re already involved in.
The social worker will conduct an in depth assessment which also looks at your life, family, values, skills and childhood experiences as well as the other members of your household. This assessment will cover a range of subjects relating to the needs of children who require fostering.
Children Always First will take up your personal and employer references. We will ask your permission to contact ex partners and adult children. The reasons for this will be explained at the initial visit.
All the information gathered by the social worker is put into a report outlining your skills, your future training needs and areas where perhaps you need more help. You’ll see the social worker’s report before panel and you can make your own comments in writing.
Finally we will ask you to have a health check to show you don’t have any major health problems.
The panel will make a recommendation to our Agency Decision Maker (ADM) as to whether or not to approve you as a foster carer and the number, age and gender of children you can foster. The ADM will then review the papers and the recommendations, advised by the panel, and give their final decision regarding approval within a week of the panel date.
The panel pictured was when we had them all together for the first panel. These days you can expect to be sitting with around 7 people.You will be supported by your assessor. In the very unlikely and unusual situation you are not approved at panel, your social worker will discuss the reasons with you and we will write to you. You will be able to put forward your own views and appeal the decision. Normally we would not take people to panel if we did not believe they would be approved but panel are rightly independent of the company in order to ensure applications are vigorously examined and only those people with the competence and skills are approved as foster carers.
Once you’re approved you’ll be given further information about more training opportunities by your own allocated Fostering social worker who will enroll you on our year one training programme and support your learning. Additionally within the first year you will be expected to undertake the CWDC Induction to Foster Care, which is a mandatory national programme.
After discussions on matching a child’s needs to your skills, a child or children will be placed with you. Their age and the length of their stay depends on the type of fostering you’re approved for and what might suit your family.
If, at any point, we consider that fostering is not the way forward for you, we will always explain our reasons behind the decision. Once you have had your application accepted you have a right to appeal against the decisions we make.
We generally process applications from Initial visit to Panel in 3 -6 months depending on the complexity.
‘Matching children to appropriate carers is a significant strength of this agency, and results in children thriving, making good progress and experiencing placement stability.’ Ofsted Nov 2014