Your fostering questions answered – personal checks and references
What personal checks and references are needed for my assessment to become a foster carer? And why?
Eastern Fostering Services wants to recruit foster carers who can meet the individual needs of children and young people and provide them with a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.
When they apply, all prospective foster carers undergo a fostering assessment which takes on average 4-6 months. The assessment includes:
- An initial home visit
- A medical report – carried out by the GP and paid for by EFS
- At least 3 personal references
- Identity checks including an enhanced DBS
- Previous partner references
- Health and Safety assessments
- 6-10 home visits and interviews including some with birth children and other household members
- A full Coram/BAAF form F assessment detailing the qualities, competences and suitability to become foster carers
- Skills to foster training
Sometimes we get asked why the process takes so long and why so many checks are involved. The simple answer is that foster carers are charged with looking after some of the most vulnerable children in our society and we need to make sure that children are going to be safe, secure and given the best quality care. The assessment process is also about preparing prospective carers for the task ahead. Applicants are given time, space and guidance in considering what their strengths and weaknesses might be and preparing them for the reality of fostering. Being aware of what you might feel, how you might respond and understanding your core motivations are all things you will draw on again and again during your fostering career.
It is important that the assessment report (the Form F) presents a full, faithful account of who you are, how your experiences have shaped you, what your motivations are, how well prepared you are and what you are going to bring to fostering. As such it needs to be in-depth. The checks that are carried out are important as a means of establishing you are who you say you are, whether you have anything in your history that could prevent you fostering (there is very little that could stop you but violent crimes and crimes against children would certainly rule you out), what your employers say about you and whether close friends and/or relatives would support your application.
Sometimes people worry about the previous partner checks. These are necessary for previous partners with whom you have had children, been married or where the relationship is classed as significant. We would only not carry out checks where there is evidence of domestic violence or other criminal activity on behalf of the partner whereby approaching them might put the applicant at risk or if the whereabouts of the partner is unknown. We are always mindful of the fact that by their very nature, ex-relationships can be tricky and full of nuance and we always use our judgement in these circumstances. We typically find that previous partners are supportive of applications to foster. Where this is not the case, we would use the assessment to explore why this might be.
The assessment is an opportunity to showcase you; to show your skills, attributes and motivations. The form F document should present a rounded picture of who you are, the experiences that have shaped you and how you might use these experiences to empathise, nurture and advocate for children. It is not designed to catch you out, pull you apart or look for reasons not to approve you – quite the opposite!
Of the assessment, one of our recently approved carers said, “I found the assessment to be a really good experience. It’s not often you get to reflect on your life and the person you’ve become. It was empowering to realise how many relevant skills and attributes I had and I learned so much about fostering, which I am now putting to good use with the young lad we’ve had placed with us.”
If you have further questions on the assessment or indeed any aspect of fostering, please post your comments on Facebook, message us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or of course, you can drop into one of our information events or informal coffee mornings.
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