What is a Form F assessment and how can you prepare for it?

Much like applying for a regular job, becoming a foster care requires approval from fostering organisations to ensure that individuals are suitable for the role. 

However, it isn’t as simple as submitting your CV and attending an interview. A crucial step in this process is the Form F assessment, also known as the fostering assessment. The Form F assessment is a meticulous process that acts as a gateway to this rewarding role. 

In this blog, we will explore what the Form F assessment entails and key considerations to help you prepare for it.

What is a Form F assessment? 

The Form F assessment is a process that every individual in the UK applying to become a foster parent has to complete. 

It involves a thorough evaluation through a series of social work visits to determine whether you are suitable to become a foster carer and a number of checks and references. The areas of your life which are assessed include your background, lifestyle, training, references and your motivations for providing care to a child in need. Due to how extensive the assessment is, it usually takes around 3-6 months to complete.

What is the Form F assessment process? 

The Form F assessment aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of your life, examining your childhood and adult experiences to determine your suitability to become a foster parent. The assessment covers specific areas such as your education, past and current relationships (including those with your biological child), work history, mental and physical health, finances, family and support networks, the safety and suitability of your home, and your availability.

Tips for preparing for the Form F assessment 

We understand that undergoing a Form F assessment can seem daunting. This assessment is designed to scrutinise all aspects of your life to deem whether you’re the right fit for fostering and caring for vulnerable children after all!

It’s an exciting yet overwhelming experience. However, there are ways to prepare for the assessment process to make it more manageable and less complicated.

Ensure you’re suitable for the role 

Before you take this step, it’s important to consider whether you are ready for the difficulties of caring for a child in need and that you are emotionally ready to share so much information about yourself and your past experiences

Becoming a foster carer is a transformative experience that can be hugely rewarding, but highly demanding and challenging. For this reason, not everyone is cut out for fostering, and that’s okay! It’s better to be aware of this before you start the assessment than come to the realisation that you’re unprepared halfway through.

Prepare your home for a child

Consider whether your current home is suitable for raising a child. As you look around your house, questions you may want to ask yourself include: 

  • Does it have fire safety features such as a fire alarm system? 
  • Are the rooms, floors and stairs free of obstacles to prevent accidents?
  • Is the kitchen and bathroom clean and hygienic?  
  • Are all sharp appliances, such as kitchen knives, stored safely? 
  • Are ponds or swimming pools safely covered?
  • Are there any strangulation risks, such as blind or curtain cords? 

These are just a few considerations you need to make about your home, and they may vary depending on the age of the child you will provide care for.

Prepare for the emotional toll of the assessment 

While starting the journey to become a foster carer is very exciting, the Form F assessment is a time-consuming and extremely thorough process. 

You may stress about not being approved, you may be stressed about other elements of the process; it can be emotionally taxing. For this reason you need to make sure that you treat yourself kindly and practise self-care. 

Ensuring that you’re looking after your mental wellbeing is crucial, both during the assessment process and throughout your journey as a foster carer. If you are stressed or burnt out, you won’t be able to present your best self!

Have your personal information ready and answer honestly

A significant part of the assessment process involves answering questions about your personal life, including your history, to determine your experiences and individual qualities. This means you must have all the essential information, such as your educational background, previous employers, etc, ready to share with your assessing social worker. 

It’s also crucial that you’re honest when it comes to your answering these questions, as the whole point of the assessment is to determine your suitability to foster. 

While you may be reluctant to share some aspects of your life, it is always better to be truthful so we can work through any concerns. Some questions might be quite personal, but you can rest assured that the professional carrying out your assessment is trained to handle your information with respect.

Try to avoid missing sessions 

We understand that life is unpredictable and things like illness or work commitments may arise. However, any sessions you miss will delay your assessment process, so it’s best to try and keep on track with your scheduled sessions.

Ensure your personal references are available to contact 

It’s important that we can reach out to the people who are giving you a personal reference. Whether it is your family member or friend, they will be asked to provide a written reference as well as attend an interview, so it’s important that they’re made aware of these obligations before the assessment process starts.

The assessment also requires past significant partners to be contacted as part of the assessment (if appropriate). We understand that this may feel uncomfortable, but the assessing social worker will be experienced in having balanced discussions with past partners.

Take your first step towards fostering with Children Always First 

Children Always First are an independent fostering agency based in Bromsgrove, England. 

We work tirelessly to ensure that each child has everything they need to achieve their full potential, against whatever hurdles life has thrown their way. We will always maintain our ‘family feel’ and always put children first, that’s at the centre of everything we do.

If you are considering applying to become a foster carer and have any questions, or would like a little more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly, supportive team today.