Step 1: Contact us
Call us for an informal chat to see if fostering might suit you. We will ask you about your reasons for considering fostering, your previous experience and the room you have available in your home.
If we are both happy to carry on with your expression of interest in fostering for Brent, we will send you an information pack and an invitation to one of our information sessions.
We will then arrange a convenient time for a home visit.
Step 2: Home visit
A social worker from the fostering team will visit your home to decide whether it is suitable for fostering a child, and answer any questions you may have about fostering in Brent.
The social worker will talk to you about your child care experience, your suitability as a foster carer, and about yourself as a person. You will also be expected to talk about your family and their feelings about fostering and provide details on your health, finances and relationship history.
The social worker will write up the details discussed at the visit and you will both decide whether to move forward to the next stage - the Skills to Foster preparation group.
Step 3: The skills to foster preparation group
This is a mandatory three-day course which runs four times a year.
It will give you an understanding of fostering in Brent and your role and responsibilities as a foster carer. You will take part in various exercises and group work activities.
Following this group, a joint decision will be made by the trainers and you to see if fostering is right for you. If you go ahead, you will move on to the formal assessment process.
Step 4: The assessment
The formal assessment can take up to four months and a social worker will visit your home at least every week.
During this time, you will talk about your background, your own experiences of education and employment, and your lifestyle. This will include religion, culture and day-to-day living, as well as your skills around caring for children and young people.
The discussion will also cover the impact that fostering may have upon you and your family.
As part of the assessment process, we will carry out various checks on you, your partner (if applicable), and any other member of your household who is aged 16 or over.
These checks will be made with your local authority, the police, the NSPCC and your doctor and will show whether you are suitable to be a foster carer.
We will also ask for references from previous and current employers, as well as personal references from people who know you well and can comment on your ability to care for a foster child.
Step 5: The fostering panel
Once the assessment is finished, the social worker will write an assessment report which they will present to the fostering panel.
You will have a chance to read your assessment report before it goes to the panel, and will be able to point out anything you may not agree with. You will also be invited to attend the panel if you want to.
The fostering panel consists of a central list of panel members who have the experience and expertise necessary to effectively discharge the functions of the panel, and who advise the council on the suitability of people who apply to become foster carers.
The panel will decide whether or not to recommend to the council your approval as a foster carer but the final decision rests with the Assistant Director of Safeguarding and Social Care.
Home study report
Home study report
A home study report will be completed based on a comprehensive assessment process. The assessment process will require you to work very closely with your assigned social worker and meet on a regular basis.
The list below gives an indication on the number of visits and interviews which will take place during the assessment process.
There will be a number of visits during the first month to:
- collect the completed application
- resolve any outstanding queries and agree time-scales / arrangements for any outstanding information
- advise applicant(s) of requirements for preparation training
- explain and leave the self-assessment for applicant(s) to complete
- verify documents, finance
- give homework (eco-map, genogram and support network)
- meet applicant's children
- assess the applicant(s)
Further visits will take place during month two of the process and will include:
- assessing the applicant(s)
- recap on the last month's discussions and answer any questions
- interviewing referees, nominated carer(s) and observations
- confirming plans for attendance of preparation training
- confirming dates to begin preparation training
- discussing updates on any statutory checks that have been received
- monitor take up of preparation training as planned.
- visit applicant if required to address any gaps in the assessment
- visit to assess the applicant and visit to interview remaining referees
- go through the written reports and gain signatures; including signatures from nominated carers, children, ex-partners, etc.
- ensure final draft of home study report and assessment documents are submitted to the assessing social worker's supervisor for review and sign off
- submission reports submitted to panel administrator
- panel date agreed
The purpose of this assessment process is to assess your qualities, skills, experience and aptitude required to become an approved foster carer.
The approval process - Fostering Panel
Once your assessment and statutory checks are complete, and you have completed your training, this information is submitted to the Fostering Panel.
You will be invited to attend the Fostering Panel, supported by your social worker, where the information will be presented and your application will be considered so the panel can make a recommendation as to whether you are suitable to be a foster carer and if so on what terms (e.g. number and age(s) of children to be placed).
The Fostering Panel members consist of people who have different skills, experience and qualifications, who between them, are able to make appropriate recommendations.
The recommendation regarding your suitability to foster is then given to the agency decision maker, who will make a decision within seven working days of receiving the final panel minutes.
You will be notified verbally within two days and in writing within five days. If the decision is positive, you will then be ready to foster.
However, if the agency decision maker does not confirm that you should be approved as a foster carer, you will be provided with a letter which will confirm the reasons why and the further steps you can take.