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Steps to become a foster carer

Children playing football

Becoming a foster carer takes around 6 months. We will do everything we can to help you understand what’s involved and give you the best possible support. If you are transferring from another fostering agency, it's quicker.

Step 1: You learn about fostering

Attend an event, contact us or fill in our form:

Apply to be a Foster Carer

We'll send you an information pack to help you get started.

Step 2: We call you

A social worker will call to talk about your plans and answer your questions. If we think you're a suitable candidate, we'll ask your permission to begin the initial checks.

Step 3: We visit you at home

A social worker will come and see you at home so we can start getting to know you, and the sort of foster care you could provide.

Step 4: We do a few checks

  • We’ll do some safeguarding checks on you and anyone over 18 who will be living in the house with the child. This includes things like Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for any criminal convictions or police cautions.
  • We’ll ask you for the names of people who can provide a reference for you.
  • You’ll need a medical check by your doctor. We'll pay for this.

Step 5: You complete a course

We'll invite you to our 3-day Skills to Foster course. This will help you decide if fostering is right for you and your family. Your children can also attend a 1-day Children's Skills course.

Step 6: We decide if you're ready to proceed

We'll look at the checks we made in step 4, and how you got on with the Skills to Foster course in stage 5, and decide if you're ready to proceed. We'll let you know our decision.

You must let us know if you wish to proceed too.

The next step takes around 4 months.

Step 7: We do a complete assessment

Your social worker will prepare a full report over the course of 6 to 8 visits, covering things like:

  • your childhood, employment and relationships
  • any relevant childcare experience
  • your references
  • safeguarding checks to do with you and your family.

An outreach worker will help your children understand fostering and find out how they feel about it. We will share the final assessment with you.

Step 8: The Fostering Panel makes a recommendation

You and your social worker will meet the Fostering Panel to discuss your assessment. The panel will then make a recommendation and you'll be told their recommendation on the day.

The panel were friendly and I actually enjoyed telling them about my own children and what I felt I had to offer as a foster carer. - Nicola, foster carer


Have you got a question about fostering that isn't answered here? Try our Fostering FAQ.

Next > What training and support can I get?

or to talk to our friendly recruitment team call 0800 801 530

"We made the first step through the internet and from there, the fostering service made things simple." – Debbie and Gary, foster carers, Braintree