The fostering process

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.