To become a foster carer, you must complete what is known as a Form F assessment. Form F is just the name of the form used to show that you have completed all the stages of the assessment and are ready to go to panel. There are 2 stages of the assessment: Stage 1 is the completion of several different checks, including criminal records and medical, which will show that there is no reason why you shouldn’t proceed to the Stage 2 of the process. You may also attend a training course during this time called Skills to Foster; this course will give you a chance to meet other candidates and to learn more about fostering.
Stage 2 is a much more personal process in which you will have a number of regular meetings with one of our social workers (who may well become your Supervising Social Worker if you are successful) and be asked to talk about your adult life and relationships, your early childhood experiences, your work and your family life.
Depending on how things go the whole process (Stage 1 and Stage 2) will probably last over a period of a few months and then you will be asked to sign the completed form before attending the fostering panel for your region.
The following is by a foster carer who talks about the assessment experience:
We had been thinking about fostering for many years but now the time just seemed right. We looked at various agencies and chose The Fostering Foundation as it seemed to tick all the boxes; small enough to be personal, good support and training and we liked their quick response. The initial visit was great. Anne, the local Team Manager and Sally, the social worker, were friendly and informative, so we signed up for the assessment!
Getting the checks done was quite straight forward (I did tell them about the driving offence twenty years ago, but that was alright; just be honest and open was the message and that applied throughout the assessment).
Stage 2 was a bit different: at times, I thought it was going a bit far, even intrusive. However, Sally explained the reasons for the questions and linked everything we were talking about to the task of fostering. She explained how the children we would be looking after are really adept at ‘pushing buttons’ and that sometimes, faced with particular behaviours or something said, things we thought we had forgotten could come flooding back in our minds, taking us by surprise and creating confusion.
Sally talked to me and my partner together and separately; it was fascinating as we learned things about each other that we hadn’t known before and it drew us closer together.
Of course, what came through most strongly was the challenge we were going to face looking after very vulnerable and troubled children. We both have some rich life experiences and brought up our own family, but we soon realised that the love we were offering, although essential, was not going to be enough. We had a lot to learn!
During the assessment, we enjoyed meeting experienced foster carers who were very kind and encouraging, whilst talking to other people in the same boat as ourselves, was also helpful. At the training sessions, we met other members of the staff team, which was good as they were so friendly and welcoming.
Sally supported us throughout the assessment; she answered all our questions and didn’t rush us. She kept us up-to-date with what was going to happen; for example, she explained about the panel and she told us as all the references and other documentation were arriving in the office.
It was a relief when we were able read the final report and we were happy to sign it. So, finally, we were ready to go to panel……. But that is another story!!