Tag Archives: fostering assessment

The Fostering Panel: step 5 to becoming a foster carer

What is the fostering panel?

Once your fostering assessment is complete and the report known as the Form F has been submitted, you will get a date to appear at panel. You are now well on your way to becoming a foster carer.

A group of people sit at a table, smiling. They represent the mix and informality of the fostering panel.
The Fostering Panel are a group of people who will put you at ease.

We always maintain that fostering applicants should not be brought to panel if there is any doubt around their ability and motivation to foster.

For many prospective foster carers, the fostering panel can be a daunting prospect. However, the panel at Eastern Fostering Services are all keen to approve foster carers. As a result, they are there to ensure you are well prepared and that there are no glaring reasons as to why you should not be approved.

We always maintain that fostering applicants should not be brought to panel if there is any doubt around their ability and motivation to foster. The fostering assessment is robust and thorough and the Form F report should leave no stone uncovered and should fully cover any areas for future development and have addressed them appropriately.

Who is on the fostering panel?

You can find a list of our panel members at the bottom of our “meet the team” page.

Don’t worry, not all of the panel will be present! Usually there will be 6 people on the panel and you will be accompanied and supported by your fostering assessor, with whom you will have already built a good relationship.

What will they want to know?

In advance of the panel, the panel members will read through your Form F. Before you go in to the room, the panel will have spent some time talking about the assessment and will agree what questions they want to ask. Normally this is one each but sometimes there may be fewer questions.

Typically, the panel want to understand your motivation to foster. They may also ask you about the other important people in your life such as birth children or close family. In addition to this, the panel members may want to give you a few scenarios to respond to, “what would you do if…”

Remember, the panel are on your side. One of our panel members recently said, “I love approving new foster carers. It always give me such joy to see the start of the journey and to watch as foster carers make a real difference to children.”

For a foster carer’s view on the panel experience, you can read this blog written by one of our carers.

Good to go!

Once the fostering panel have made their decision, they will call you back in to the room and will let you know their decision. They will give you full reasons for your approval, what they like about you and what they feel your strengths are.

Once the paperwork is all signed off, you will be an approved foster carer and will be ready to be considered for children. Then the fun really begins!

If you would like to know more about fostering, call us on 01206 299775 or email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com. You can also find us on Facebook or visit our website.

The Fostering Assessment – Step 4 in becoming a foster carer

What is the fostering assessment for?

The image shows a smiling man in conversation with a woman who is making notes. Both look relaxed and this is a good illustration of the fostering assessment process.
Your Fostering Assessment will be carried out by one of our friendly, experienced assessors.

Once you have completed your application form and we have carried out the necessary checks, we will begin your fostering assessment.

A fostering assessor will be assigned to you and your family. All of our assessors are friendly, keen to put you at your ease and experienced in producing fostering assessment reports.

The job of your assessor is to provide a detailed report on you, your partner and your family. This report will look at your life experiences, motivation, strengths and qualities . It should also flag up training opportunities. In addition to this, the report will give your fostering provider pointers on how best to support you.

What will my assessor want to know?

The assessor will produce a final report, ubiquitously known as the Form F. If you want to have a thorough look at what the report contains, you can see a sample here. However, this blog summarises it nicely for you!

Your assessor will focus on the main body of the report. Through a series of face to face visits, conversations and informal interviews he/she will cover a range of topics.

Your early life experiences

A big part of who you are today stems from the experiences you had as a child. Your early experiences shape you, your views and often give you motivation in life. We do not expect our carers to have idyllic childhoods. In fact, we often find that carers who have had difficult times in life are able to empathise with our children and young people. Difficult situations and circumstances often help us to build resilience; something foster carers need in buckets! That said, if you had a wonderful childhood, this can also serve as motivation in wanting to share this with others.

Your adult life including relationships and employment

Your assessor will talk to you about the other experiences you’ve had throughout your life. This will include your experiences of significant romantic relationships, what you learned from them and how they have shaped who you are today. We’re interested in all the facets that make up who you are, including your professional life. The assessor will seek to demonstrate what transferrable attributes you will be bringing to fostering.

..we often find that carers who have had difficult times in life are able to empathise with our children and young people..

Your personality and current relationship

Who are you as a person? What are your strengths? What is important to you? The fostering assessment will paint a detailed picture of who you are and what motivates you. If you are in a long term relationship, the assessment will be detailed for both of you. Therefore you will both meet with the assessor together and separately.

When it comes to your relationship, we’ll want to understand how you work as a team. What are your complimentary strengths and qualities? Why does your relationship work? How do you expect to share the fostering, practically and emotionally?

Birth children and support network

If you have children, they will form an important part of the fostering assessment. We will want to ensure that their feelings and views are taken into account, even if they are fully grown and living away from home. It may be that they envisage being part of your support network. Perhaps they are still living at home? Either way, we will need to ensure that they are fully included in the support package that we put together for you.

Foster carers do need good support from friends and family and we will want to ensure that your support network is robust and reliable.

Your capacity and motivation to foster

The assessor will be looking for evidence to support your application. Fostering involves a variety of areas in which you will need to develop skills. How can you demonstrate warmth, empathy, encouragement. What are your attitudes towards diversity (race, gender, sexuality, religion)? How can you demonstrate that you will support a child in their education? What skills might you have in advocacy? How will you support contact with the birth family? How might you work with other professionals?

Your assessor will ask you a variety of questions to help include all the strengths and competencies you will bring to fostering. By their nature, the questions will require you to dig deep but you should NOT feel judged or interrogated.

What do our carers say about the fostering assessment?

We were a bit anxious that it would be intrusive but the process allowed real soul searching and was actually very liberating!

Our assessor was friendly, open and we never felt judged. We built a good relationship and trusted her to represent us faithfully in the Form F.

What happens after the Form F is written?

Once the assessor has finished the fostering assessment, you will be ready for panel! This will be the subject of our next blog. Stay tuned!

Want to find out more?

We have regular events and coffee mornings which offer you the opportunity to meet us and ask your questions. You can also meet some of our foster carers. Our next event is in Ipswich on 23rd September. Check out our Facebook page for more details. Alternatively, call us on 01206 299775 or email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com

The Fostering Application form

The next step in becoming a foster carer.

How do I proceed with the Fostering Application after the home visit?

A young lady sits next to a child as she completes a paper application form. The image illustrates the Fostering Application process.
Completing the Fostering Application form is not difficult…just a little time consuming.

Last week we shared a blog about the home visit. Once you have had your home visit and you, your family and the fostering provider are keen to go ahead with your fostering application, you are ready for the next stage of the process. The fostering application form.

What information does the fostering application form require?

We need quite a bit of information from you in order to proceed with your fostering application. The assessment will consist of information gathering both behind the scenes and directly from you in the form of face to face meetings. The application form helps us to start both of these processes.

Behind the scenes

There are some checks that we will need to carry out with Local Authorities, the Police and Due Diligence Services (DBS). In the application form, we ask you to list previous addresses so that we can contact the Local Authorities. This enables us to check facts and to gather a narrative of your history.

We also ask for references, both personal and professional, where appropriate. If you do not yet want us to approach your professional referees, you can state this and we can leave it until a later date once things have progressed further. The aim of references is to build a picture of your skills and personal qualities and is a useful way for us to get to know you better.

Many excellent foster carers manage long term health conditions and might also have a history of mental health conditions.

We’ll need to know about your general health and will ask for details of any health conditions on your fostering application form. Moreover, we will write to your GP and request them to carry out a health check. The GP then completes a report which will help us to assess your physical and mental fitness to foster. Please do not be worried about this. Many excellent foster carers manage long term health conditions and might also have a history of mental health conditions. These medical issues in themselves will not stop you from fostering but will allow us to assess what additional support you might need.

We will ask you for details of any previous long-term partners. We know that sometimes approaching previous partners can be difficult and we will talk to you about this. For some people there are valid reasons not to approach ex-partners and we will always take your views into account and discuss it with you.

The face to face

The fostering application form will ask you some more general questions which help us to get a feel for your family, lifestyle and home situation. In addition to this we will ask some initial questions about your motivation to foster. Why do you want to foster? Why now? How long have you been thinking about it?

You will provide details of any birth children, living away from home or in the family home. Your children will form an important part of the fostering assessment. We will need to understand their views, feelings and expectations. Where birth children are adult and living away from home, we would want to contact them to speak to them about you and their views on what you might be like as a foster carer. Younger birth children, living at home, will be spoken to by a social worker as part of the assessment process. In addition to this, their feelings, needs and circumstances will be assessed so that we can ensure the best possible package of support for the whole family.

Then what?

Once we have received your fostering application form, we will commence all the background checks. Additionally, we will assign you an assessor. This assessor will be responsible for producing your report, known as the Form F.

This document will form the subject of our next blog, so do keep an eye out for it.

In the meantime if you have any questions about fostering, you can email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com, call us on 01206 299775 or you can come to one of our fostering events, see here for further details.

Becoming a foster carer: 5 things you should know

Becoming a foster carer will change your life. Here are 5 things you should know.

  • Fostering is hard but rewarding

Becoming a foster carer is one of the bravest steps you can take. It is a job that takes place in your home, 24/7. Fostering will require you to make changes to your life. Not only will you be fostering the most vulnerable children in society but you will be working within a difficult system too. It’s hard work. BUT the rewards are beyond anything you could expect in any other job. If you’re in two minds about fostering, simply ask yourself, “in what other job can I transform lives?” With the right support, from the right fostering agency, fostering can be a joy.

Male and female foster carers with their two birth sons, smiling and looking excited.
Becoming a fostering family
  • When you become a foster carer your life will change too!

As with any big life change, foster carers need to learn to live differently. When you apply to foster, you will open your life up to examination. It is important that foster carers realise that no-one is judging them. You are not expected to be saintly! Fostering providers need to check that you have what it takes to foster and that you are offering the best standard of care for the child. However within that, it is understood that you are an individual with your own approach and you should be free to add your uniqueness to the fostering process. Any good provider will nurture you as an individual and support you to foster in the best way you can.

If you’re in two minds about fostering, simply ask yourself, “in what other job can I transform lives?”

  • You may lose some friends but you’ll gain some too.

Not everyone will understand the changes that will happen in your life when you foster. Many of your friends will want to support you; undoubtedly friends like this are gems and will form an important part of your support network. But there will be others who don’t understand that you may need to cancel plans at the last minute. They might not understand your motivations and feel left out. It is important that you can be part of a fostering community. Making friends with other carers will ensure that you feel understood and supported. Take advantage of the fostering communities offered to you by your fostering provider.

  • You will surprise yourself.

Fostering gives you endless opportunity to learn about yourself. The children that you care for will provoke all manner of reactions in you! Some children may cause your own unresolved issues to surface. It is for this reason that you must choose a fostering provider who will offer excellent support and supervision. But it’s not all bad! When you foster, you will discover strengths you did not know you had. As you help children to heal, you too will grow, learn and develop as a person.

In a world where kindness and understanding can be hard to find, one often sees them alive and kicking in fostering families.

  • Fostering will make your life richer.

We all know that good foster carers can transform the lives of children. This is one of the main motivations of good foster carers. Yet, it is also true to say that fostering will transform and enrich the lives of fostering families. Foster carers often tell us that their birth children have become more resilient, more empathetic and more emotionally intelligent. Both children and adults who foster learn something vital about their own humanity and that of others who are different to them. In a world where kindness and understanding can be hard to find, one often sees them alive and kicking in fostering families.

If you think that you have what it takes to become a foster carer, we have lots of information on our website, including some excellent fostering seminars. Find out more about fostering here.

We also post information about Eastern Fostering Services events on our Facebook page. See if there is a fostering event near to you!

What qualifications do you need to be a foster carer?

The short answer to the question of what qualifications foster carers need is none!

So what do we look for in foster carers?

Whilst foster carers do not need formal qualifications, there are qualities that we look for. Foster carers need to be resilient. During the fostering assessment resilience is looked at and foster carers can cite their life experience to evidence this.

Foster carers need to have emotional intelligence, empathy and kindness. Because many looked after children have specific emotional needs. But don’t worry if you don’t know a lot about the ins and outs of fostering. Foster carers undergo training as part of their assessment.

Whilst it is helpful to have experience of children and child care, even this is not a must. Undoubtedly what we look for is someone who has a passion to make a difference. Having empathy and a desire to positively change the outcomes for children is the most important thing.

A spare room to foster

The only thing we have to insist on is that foster carers have a spare room available for fostering. For some people this is a barrier to fostering. We understand that this is frustrating for some people. Nonetheless it is important to have enough space to enable long term plans to be made for looked after children.

I want to foster. What do I do now?

Email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com. We can send you information about fostering and can organise a visit to you in your home.

Fostering is difficult. However, it is also one of the most rewarding and valuable things that a person can do.

If you are thinking of fostering, contact Eastern Fostering Services today.

Eastern Fostering Services - With you every step of the way

The Fostering Assessment – why do we need to carry out checks?

Eastern Fostering Services wants to recruit foster carers who can meet the individual needs of children; who can 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. 

Included in the fostering assessment

·        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.

Why does the fostering assessment take so long?

People often ask why the fostering assessment takes so long and why so many checks are involved. Foster carers are charged with looking after some of the most vulnerable children in our society. We need to make sure that children are going to be safe, secure and given the best quality care. The fostering 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. During the fostering assessment we prepare 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.

What does the fostering assessment contain?

It is important that the fostering assessment report (the Form F) presents a faithful account of who you are. The assessor will write about how your experiences have shaped you. They will explain 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. We will check 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. We would also want to know what your employers say about you and whether close friends and 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 fostering 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!

What do our foster carers say about the fostering assessment?

One of our recently approved carers said, “I found the fostering 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. I am now putting this 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 info@easternfosteringservices.com. Or of course, you can drop into one of our information events or informal coffee mornings. Visit www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events for a full list of upcoming events.

Do I get paid to be a foster carer?

When it comes to fostering, money is an emotive and often controversial topic of conversation. Nonetheless, in the interest of answering the questions we get about finances, it is a topic we’d like to address.

We’d like to start out by making it clear that good foster carers are always motivated by a deep desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children. The best foster carers seek to nurture, love and advocate for the children in their care. In our experience, very few carers are ever motivated by financial gain and it is very important to us that they are not.

However, one cannot escape the fact that it costs money to raise a child and it is for this reason that Local Authorities pay a fostering allowance to foster carers.

The money foster carers receive will cover the cost of caring for a child. It includes the cost of food, clothing, pocket money, savings for the child, personal items such as toys or toileteries. It will include extra-curricular activities, school uniform and equipment, school meals, lesiure and sports activities. It is expected to cover other incremental household costs associated with caring for additional children, such as utilities.

Many people want and rightly need to know how much money they could expect to receive for fostering when deciding whether it is a viable option for them. The answer to this is that the amount will vary and is dependent on the needs of the individual child.

For example, a carer who looks after children with profound care needs would receive a higher allowance because there might be significant costs associated with providing the required level of care. Children and young people whose care needs are less challenging might require less round-the-clock care and a lower care-related expenditure and therefore carers looking after these children would expect a lower allowance.

It is worth saying that Fostering Providers will differ in what allowance they pay foster carers. We would strongly urge prospective carers to look at the whole package offered to them by Fostering Providers. Whilst we would expect no foster carer to be out of pocket when caring for a child, when it comes to fostering there are some things that money can’t buy and which are vital to ensure stable, positive and fruitful fostering experiences. When looking for a fostering provider, we recommend you check:

  1. How child focused the fostering provider is – talk to fostering providers and gauge how invested they are in the children they support. Their policies and activities should be child-centric and should promote stable, nurturing and successful fostering experiences for carers and children alike.
  2. What support you will be given: does the provider offer 24/7 support? Is the team small enough to get to know you, your family and the child(ren) you care for?
  3. What additional support is offered: does the provider offer services to promote emotional wellbeing and resilience amongst its carers? Is there an active and supportive fostering community who can meet regularly to support and encourage one another? Is there a sound Social Worker to carer ratio, ensuring carers and their families can be seamlessly supported and listened to?
  4. What training and development opportunities exist – a good fostering provider will provide varied, relevant and tailored training and development for their carers. It should be easy for carers to communicate their training needs and aspirations and fostering providers should be able to demonstrate that they are responsive.

If you would like to talk to us about any aspect of fostering, including the finances, please contact us at info@easternfosteringservices.com or call us on 01206 299775.

Alternatively, pop into one of our events. Our next drop-in session will be on Thursday 19th July from 10.30-12.30 at our offices in East Bergholt, Suffolk.

Eastern Fostering Services - Think you can foster

Becoming a foster carer

What does becoming a foster carer involve?

Do you live in Essex, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire? Do you want to become a foster carer? If so,  we at Eastern Fostering Services are really keen to talk to you. If you call us on 01206 299775 or email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com we will call you back and talk through your questions.

After we’ve visited you at home, we’ll leave you to complete a fostering application form. Once this has been accepted, we’ll assign you an assessor. This person will produce your assessment and take you through to panel.

The process of becoming a foster carer takes around 4 months. During this time, the assessor will produce a report that assesses your suitability to foster. We have assessors across Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. They will make several visits to your home (usually about 8 in total).

The fostering assessment or Form F is like the fabled, red “This is your life” book. We’ll ask you about your childhood, your adult life, your relationships. We will look at why you want to foster. We’ll highlight all of your strengths and talk to you about any vulnerabilities. In short, this report provides all the reasons that you will make a good foster carer.

Many people think that there is something in their past that will stop them becoming a foster carer. We believe that the challenges of life are the very things that give you many of the qualities we look for in a foster carer. We need foster carers who have weathered the ups and downs of life. There is very little that can stop you becoming a foster carer.

The fostering assessment is indepth. But it is not invasive.

We are not concerned with your marital status or sexuality. We need a variety of foster carers to care for the variety of children in need.

If you live in Essex, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire and you want to foster, get in touch. Becoming a foster carer might be easier than you think.