Step 1 – Register your interest
Thinking of becoming a foster carer? How do you find out which fostering providers to approach?
As with anything in life, when it comes to becoming a foster carer, you should do your research. As a foster carer, you will need excellent support so you should look for local fostering providers who offer quality, 24 hour support. Smaller agencies are often better placed to offer quality, tailored support.
The Fostering Network have a tool on their website that allows you to search for local fostering providers. Moreover the internet is an excellent source of information. However, you need to know what you are looking for when deciding which fostering provider might best suit you and your individual needs.
I want to become a foster carer, shall I approach a fostering agency or the Local Authority?
Deciding who you want to foster with is a personal choice. The Local Authority prefer to place children with their in-house foster carers and will give them priority. Therefore you might get a greater choice of children. Increasingly, however, due to the shortage in foster carers, fostering agencies also receive a high number of requests.
The main difference between fostering agencies and Local Authorities is in the quality and level of support you will receive. In particular, smaller agencies such as Eastern Fostering Services will know you, your family and the children you foster very well. This means that when you need to call for help, you will speak to a team member who knows your situation – no need for lengthy explanations!
I have found some fostering providers – what now?
Ask yourself, are these people you could work with?
You can contact fostering providers by phone, email or web enquiry form. Indeed some fostering providers can be found on Facebook. Simply get in touch with them and ask them for more information.
Fostering providers should offer you the chance to talk either over the phone or face to face.
Here is a quick suggestion of what you might ask them:
What support do you offer carers?
Can you tell me about your matching process?
How does the assessment process work?
What positive outcomes do you achieve for children?
What training and development do you offer?
Which children do you need carers for?
In turn, Fostering providers might ask you:
Why do you want to foster?
Are there birth children living at home?
Do you have a spare room available for fostering?
Have you got experience working with children or vulnerable adults?
What type of child (age, gender etc.) do you feel would suit you best?
What do you do for a living?
Can you drive?
Do you have a criminal record?
A more in-depth conversation is now needed.
When you have decided which fostering provider(s) might be the best fit for you, you can request a home visit. This is a great opportunity for you to ask any other questions. In addition you can get an even better feel for the fostering provider. Ask yourself, are these people you could work with?
To get the best out of your home visit, keep your eyes open for our next blog: Becoming a Foster carer, step 2 – the home visit. You can access all our blogs from our homepage.