Skip to main content

Steps to become a foster carer

Children playing football

There are eight main steps to becoming a foster carer with ECC. The process takes around six months, less If you are transferring from another fostering agency.

Step 1: You get in touch

Call us on 0800 801 530 or email us at and we'll send you an information pack. Or come along to one of our local fostering information events, where you’ll be able to chat to ECC foster carers and fostering social workers, and hear about some of the children who currently need homes.

Step 2: We call you

After you’ve made contact with us, one of our friendly initial enquiry team will call to talk about your plans and answer any questions you might have. If we think you're a suitable candidate, we'll ask your permission to check our social care records for any connection or previous involvement with our services.

Step 3: We visit you 

A social worker will visit you at home so we can start getting to know you, and discuss what type of fostering would be best for your family.

Step 4: We do a few checks

  • We’ll do some safeguarding checks on you and anyone over 18 who lives in your home. This includes Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for any criminal convictions or police cautions.
  • We’ll ask you for the names of three people who can provide a personal reference for you.
  • Your doctor will need to confirm that you are medically fit to foster. We’ll pay related costs.

Step 5: You attend a course

We'll invite you to a compulsory three-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 one-day children's skills event but this is optional.

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

We'll look at the checks we’ve made, and how you got on with the skills to foster course, and decide if you're ready to start a full fostering assessment. We'll let you know our decision within a week of you completing the course. You’ll also need to let us know whether you still want to proceed.

Step 7: We assess you fully

Your social worker will prepare a full report over the course of six to eight visits. This will cover things like:

  • your childhood, employment and relationships
  • relevant childcare experience
  • your parenting capacity
  • your references
  • further safeguarding checks on you and your family, for example, from schools and the probation service

An outreach worker will help your children understand what fostering involves and find out how they feel about it.

The Step 7 process will take around four months. When it is completed we will share our final assessment with you.

Step 8: The Fostering Panel makes a recommendation

Your social worker will go with you to meet the local Fostering Panel, which will give its view on whether you are suitable to be a foster carer. The panel is made up of independent social workers, members of the community, people with experience of fostering and adoption, a therapist and a medical advisor. The panel will have read your social worker’s assessment and will have points it wants to discuss. The panel will make its recommendation on the day, when it will be shared with you.

The final decision is made by our Head of Service, usually within two weeks. By this point you will have met your supervising social worker. They will share referrals and start preparing you for the arrival of your foster child, who could be with you within a fortnight of your approval as a foster carer. 



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



You need a good heart and a willingness to open your doors. Go along to recruitment events with an open mind and listen to your gut instinct.” Jess, ECC respite foster carer since 2016



“[ECC] social workers have a thorough understanding of the children they work with and are passionate about improving outcomes for them.” Ofsted, 2019




“I would encourage everyone to consider fostering. We were so nervous, but it’s been absolutely amazing. We’re loving every minute.” Annette, ECC foster carer since 2016



“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, ECC foster carer