It’s important we have the right people for the role of professional foster carer, that’s why the recruitment process can potentially take around three months. This thorough process is vital for the safety of the children and young people that come into foster care – through no fault of their own.

So, for those considering applying to become a foster carer, here we have an overview of the recruitment process from initial enquiry through to assessment. While it might be a lengthy process initially, once approved, the rewards of this role are ten-fold.

Enquiry to become a foster carer

Following an initial enquiry, where we chat about the role of a professional foster carer and application requirements, we’ll arrange an initial meeting, which is currently done via video. This is an opportunity to talk in depth about the foster care profession, career path, training and everything it entails.

Formal process

After a home visit, which we currently conduct via video to adhere to social distancing, we assign a social worker who will start the formal process of you becoming a foster carer. This involves 6-8 ‘visits to your home’ which at the moment involves a mixture between Zoom virtual visits and where social distancing is possible meetings in their garden.

During this process you will also attend a 3-day training session which is conducted remotely too.

The fostering panel

Then, you’ll attend a fostering panel for consideration of approval to become a foster carer.

The fostering panel comprises of a chairperson, independent of the agency, one or more social workers and some independent members who may be a person who has the experience of being a ‘looked after child’, someone who is or has been a foster carer or someone with a professional background relating to child care.

Just like any job interview, you’ll be well prepared for this. You will spend time researching and prepping answers for questions the panel may ask. This will usually be something you work on with your assigned social worker. With their expertise, they will help guide you on possible questions or issues that the panel is likely to touch on.

The panel session is tailored to you and your application. The panel will have prepared questions based around your application to really get to understand you and how well suited you are for the important role of being a foster carer.

Currently the fostering panel is not meeting due to the pandemic and we have used the amended government regulations to allow a virtual meeting with the applicant and the agency decision maker. This may change in the autumn, when we will go back to having panels, and this is likely to be remotely for the foreseeable future.

The decision

It’s then down to the panel to make a recommendation on the assessment. This recommendation goes to the agency decision maker who makes the final decision.

The agency decision maker will make their decision and will write to you within seven days of them reading the minutes of the panel meeting.

A foster carer’s thoughts on the assessment process

One of our foster carer’s Mandy, gives insight into the foster carer assessment process: ‘There are quite a few avenues to cover during the assessment process, from application forms, necessity checks to details about your life from birth to date. I was appointed an assessor a supervising social worker to guide me through the process and answer any concerns I may have. My assessor made me feel amazingly comfortable and I very much enjoyed the process. I found enjoyment reflecting and writing about my personal life almost like writing my autobiography.’

We’re recruiting foster carers

If this has helped give more of a picture of the process and spurred you on to apply to become a foster carer, then here’s our initial requirements we look for when recruiting a foster carer. A potential applicant must have a spare bedroom, patience and understanding, and be over the age of 23.

We need people that can offer a secure environment, good communication skills and empathy. But most importantly, we’re looking for people who have space in their heart to care for a young person in need and be able to offer love and comfort at a time of unrest.

We’re recruiting foster carers within South London including CroydonGreenwichLewisham, Bexley, Lambeth, Bromley, Merton, Sutton, and Southwark.

If you live in or are close to any of these areas and are thinking about fostering, then get in touch.