Children may enter foster care for short or longer periods because their families are unable to take care of them. This article explains what fostering is and outlines the steps to fostering children in the UK.
What is fostering?
Fostering is an arrangement where individuals, called foster carers, care for children in their homes. Children are placed with foster carers by social services departments for various reasons. Foster care is temporary in nature and many children return to their families.
How to register
Persons who are interested in becoming foster carers may register on the Fostering.org.uk website. After registering, they are contacted by an agency in their area. Interested individuals will need to provide the agency with contact information that will be used in the fostering process.
Steps in the assessment process
Foster carers assessments are conducted by social services departments or independent fostering agencies. The procedure may vary slightly, but many aspects that are governed by the Children’s Act must be followed by departments and agencies. The form F consists of five parts that must be completed. In the final section of the form, the agency social worker assesses the suitability of the applicant and makes recommendations. Step 1: Introductory meeting There are some basic criteria that must be met in a brief telephone interview with the department or agencies. Then, potential candidates are invited to an introductory meeting on foster care. This meeting will give the candidate opportunities to get further information about fostering, how assessments are done, and when to apply. Step 2: Preparation for foster carers group Prospective foster carers and agency staff meet in these groups. Potential candidates get a better understanding of the issues surrounding fostering and foster care. Groups usually meet four to six times for several weeks. There are opportunities for applicants to meet experienced foster carers, and explore their attitudes and beliefs regarding children and fostering. Step 3: Home visits At this stage, each applicant will begin to receive home visits from a social worker. The social worker will talk to members of the household together and separately. The main purpose of home visits is to build up complete profile of applicants and the parenting environments that they can provide. Social workers and candidates will fill out the Form F throughout this stage. On completion, it is read, agreed on, and signed by applicant and social worker. Final note The decision to foster children is a very important one. This process takes between six months more than a year from the first home visit to being presented to the Panel for consideration. Source Fostering Information Line (n.d.). “Basic Information on Fostering.” (Downloaded from Fostering.org.uk and accessed August 2011).