Consistently Outstanding since 2013

How to become a foster parent

Fostering children is one of the most rewarding careers available. Find out more on how to become a foster parent.

What better way to make a difference to a child’s life than providing something that most of us have taken for granted – a safe, supportive and caring family environment, through which children can learn, grow and develop?

Opening your home and your family to others is a big decision and we know that you need time to consider this fully before taking the first step to becoming a foster parent. Our website is packed full of information you need to make a fully informed choice and, if you have any questions at all, you can call to talk these through with a member of our fostering team on 0800 077 8159.

Many people consider fostering but discount themselves because they hold foster parents in high esteem and feel that fostering agencies are only looking for ‘superheroes’! 

We do think our foster parents are amazing; their dedication and commitment to the children in their care inspires us every day! But our foster parents are ordinary people, living their ordinary lives. But by welcoming a child who is in need of a family home, they are achieving extraordinary things!

Find out more                            Get in touch

Could you become a foster parent?

Why not take our fostering quiz to see if you’re eligible to become a foster parent. We promise, you won’t be asked if you have any super powers!

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Application process

When you first enquire about fostering, you will be contacted by a member of our team to have a preliminary discussion about your interest in fostering, your motivation and to go through some very basic questions such as your age whether you have a spare bedroom and, if you are applying jointly, how long you have been in a relationship for. If you meet the basic criteria at that stage, then an initial home visit will be booked with a member of our team, for a date and time of your choice. 

How to apply

Our friendly team are here to help you decide if fostering a child or young person is right for you and offer any advice and guidance you may need.

You can contact us by calling our freephone number: 0800 077 8159, chatting online or by completing our online enquiry form.

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Home visit and application

The home visit usually lasts between 1-2 hours and you will be asked further questions, but also given the opportunity to ask questions about Fostering Peoples' fostering network and about fostering in general, as well as anything else that you are unsure about and which may help you to decide if fostering is right for you. 

During this initial visit, you will be asked more in-depth questions about your family (including your birth children), your job, your health, your experience of caring for children and young people, your reasons for wanting to foster, any ex-partners and also we will ask to have a look around your home to ensure that it is suitable for fostering with no obvious hazards.

Sometimes it may be that the timing is not quite right for you and you may be advised to come back to us at a later date. For example, it could be that you are just overcoming a significant health issue or the loss of a loved one, or you may be in the process of moving house or changing jobs.

If we both agree that the time is right for you, we’ll invite you to apply to foster with us. We’ll give you our application form. The application form is not very lengthy and just asks for some basic details. It is important that you complete this as comprehensively as you can, so that we have as much information as possible to be able to start the checks and references process.

You will be asked to sign a form to consent for relevant checks to be undertaken; this is called a Form of Authority. At this point, you will be allocated a recruitment support officer (RSO) who will oversee all the administrative tasks related to your assessment, including all of the relevant checks and references. The RSO will keep in touch with you throughout your assessment and, along with your assessor, is your main point of contact during your assessment with Fostering People and they are there to help and support you.

Checks and references

A fostering assessment is a very in-depth process which can feel quite intrusive (although many applicants feedback that they thoroughly enjoy the process!) The reasons for this are clear, as you are being assessed to care for the most vulnerable children in your own home. We need to know that you have realistic expectations of the role, are genuinely motivated and committed, and have the potential to provide good and safe care to children.

Part of this process therefore involves carrying out third party checks and references alongside the social work visits to you.

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Social worker visits

Once your application has been received, a social worker will be allocated to undertake your assessment; this may be an independent social worker (who does not work for Fostering People) or it may be one of our own Supervising Social Workers. The assessment usually takes around 4 - 6 months from receipt of application to Panel but on rare occasions, based on your circumstances, could take up to 8 months.

Your assessor will visit you at home and will also visit your referees (including adult birth children and significant ex-partners) and will want to speak to your birth children to ascertain their views about fostering and get to know them too. It’s normal for birth children to be involved in some of your assessment sessions and your assessor may complete some ‘direct work’ (fun activities such as games / drawing etc) with them to check that they have an age appropriate understanding of fostering and appear happy with your decision to foster and to share you and their home with children they do not know. 

The number of home visits usually averages between 8 and 10 and they are usually around 2 hours per visit. Your assessor will also want to meet your pets and basically get to know you as a family, including your routines, hobbies, interests and day-to-day life etc. This all forms part of the picture of how a fostered child would experience living in your family and will also help with matching a child to your family once you are approved. 

If you are applying jointly with your partner, your assessor will want to see you together but will also complete one or more sessions with you on an individual basis. You will discuss all aspects of your life, including your life history, starting from your childhood and then working through your teenage years and adult life, including employment and relationships. Many applicants find that they enjoy this, but there can obviously be times when you may discuss sensitive or difficult issues – your assessor is there to support you and it is absolutely fine to say if you need to take a break.

Preapproval training

As part of your assessment, you will be asked to attend our Skills to Foster training, which is usually a 3 day course and is run regionally. You’ll be asked about your availability for this training as, though it often spans a weekend, you may need to take some time off work. It’s important that you try to prioritise this training as you cannot go to Panel without having attended.

At the training, you’ll meet other applicants from your region, current foster parents and possibly even looked after children too. This is a perfect opportunity to learn more, to ask questions and to get to know those you will be linked with as you progress in your fostering career.

In addition to this you will receive our ‘Next Steps to Fostering’ guide. Your assessor will support you to work through this booklet and you will be asked to submit some written responses and reflections at the end of this. Your assessor is likely to also provide you with other reading materials, scenarios and exercises or suggest some additional reading and research for you. You may even want to ask your assessor for further reading suggestions and your assessor will have lots of ideas for you!

Form F

The Form F is the report which is completed by your assessor and sent to our fostering panel with a recommendation for approval, including the terms of approval, such as numbers and ages of children.

Once all home visits have been completed alongside references and checks, your assessor will be able to make a decision on your suitability to foster. Please don’t worry though, if any potential problems arise during the assessment, these will be discussed with you at the time. You won’t have to wait until the very end of the process to know what your assessor is likely to be recommending.

Your assessor will complete the report – the Form F – and you will have chance to read it, make any comments and agree its content before it is sent to the fostering panel for consideration.

Fostering Panel

The word ‘panel’ sounds a bit daunting and the idea of a room full of people asking you questions might seem quite overwhelming.

The truth is, though, that most people say afterwards that panel was much less intimidating than they had feared and that panel members were friendly and welcoming. All panel members will be aware that people may be a bit anxious about attending and they will try to help you to relax.

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Take your first step to becoming a foster parent today

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent and would like to learn more, then we’d love to hear from you.

Simply fill in the form below and one of our friendly team will be in touch.

The company takes the requirements of GDPR seriously in ensuring the privacy and lawful processing of personal data provided to us by you. Please view our privacy notice which explains how the company will manage and use your personal data.

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

Frequently asked questions

What checks are carried out as part of the application?

To help find out whether fostering is right for you, we’ll carry out a number of checks on you and your home. These include: Police checks, a standard safety check on your home, employment references, school references, financial stability checks, health checks and personal references.  You can read more about each check on our checks and references page.

How long does the fostering application take?

The length of the application process can vary from carer to carer. On average, it takes around 4 - 6 months to complete your assessment and be approved as a foster carer. Visit our How to become a foster parent page to find out more about what’s involved.

Does it cost me money to apply?

In most cases no, it doesn't as we cover most costs. There are a few exceptions, such as if you've lived abroad, you'll need to apply for a criminal record check in that county and will be liable for the cost of that check, which we will refund if you are approved. Some foster parents need to make small changes to there home to meet the health and safety standards and you will need to cover the cost of that too. All homes need to have a gas certificate to ensure a child will be safe and the cost of this is covered by the applicant.

Can I apply to be a foster parent online?

Yes you can. You can enquire with us here. Following a home visit, you can complete your application online securely on our website and we will give you the link to enable you do do this.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call us on 0800 077 8159

Fostering People Limited, Suite D, The Point, Welbeck Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 7QW