The application and assessment process

Once you've decided that you'd like to be a Parents for Children foster or respite carer, the next step is to contact us to let us know. If so, you can register your interest online, email us at [email protected] or call 020 7520 2881/5 and ask to speak to our foster care team.

What happens next?

A social worker from our foster care team will contact you to answer any initial questions you may have and may need some additional information from you. The next step is to arrange a meeting to talk about your application in more detail. After this informal meeting, the social worker will probably arrange to visit you at home. Shortly after this meeting, you will find out whether your application has been successful and whether the assessment and training process will begin.

Providing foster care for a child is both difficult and rewarding, and both Parents for Children and the local authority with responsibility for the child have a duty to ensure that every carer has been properly assessed and received high quality and relevant training before a child is placed in their care. The assessment and training process can seem, to many new carers, to take too long. After all, the decision to become a foster carer is not one that people reach quickly, so all in all it can be many months from beginning to think about applying to actually caring for your first child.

How long will it all take?

The assessment process can be lengthy –it may take from four to six months – but it is designed to prepare new carers fully for what lies ahead and to make sure that vulnerable children receive the best possible care.

If your application is successful, we will arrange a series of home visits to discuss your application in more depth. Whenever possible, you will have one Parents for Children social worker assigned to you as your main contact, that way the two of you can get to know each other well during the assessment process. We'll talk to you in depth about your experience of caring for children, your family situation and any special skills you may have to support your application. You may also meet other members of the Parents for Children team, for example a psychologist who can carry out an attachment style assessment to further support your application.

Do you need references?

We'll need, at this stage, to check on the state of your health and we'll need to take up personal references. A police record check will also be carried out. Throughout the assessment process, we encourage applicants to keep in regular contact with their Parents for Children social worker who'll be happy to answer any questions about how the assessment is going and the next steps.

Is there an 'interview' process?

After the assessment process is complete and records and references have been checked, the social worker prepares a home study report which covers all aspects of the applicant's family life, previous experience of caring for children and suitability as a foster carer. This report is presented to the Parents for Children fostering panel for a decision to be made. Applicants are encouraged to attend the meeting of the fostering panel, with their Parents for Children social worker, to support their application.

It all sounds scary!

We realise that the thought of a lengthy process of assessment that involves meetings with social workers and psychologists and culminates in attending a panel is a frightening prospect for many people. Although the correct procedures have to be followed for the safety of children in care, we aim to work with our new carers to make sure that the whole process is as straightforward and open as possible for them.

Without our carers, we can't help some of the most vulnerable children in society. We will work with you throughout your assessment, preparation and training to equip you for your rewarding role as a Parents for Children foster carer.