The process takes around eight months, from when you first get in touch to when we welcome you to our fostering family.
This roughly breaks down as:
- around 10 weeks from when you first get in touch to getting you onto our preparation course
- around 16 weeks from the day you attend the preparation course to getting your application to our fostering panel
- around two weeks from when our fostering panel goes through your application to officially becoming one of our foster carers
This guide explains the process step by step. If you have any questions about what we expect from you at any point of the process, please ask.
If you think fostering might be for you, the first step will be to get in touch with us. You can
- use our contact form
- call 0117 353 4200
We'll answer any questions you may have at this stage, and we might ask you for some information.
If you're able to proceed, we'll arrange for a member of our team to visit you in your home so we can start getting to know you.
The home visit is an opportunity for us to get to know you better.
During the home visit, if you decide to proceed and we agree this would be the right thing for you, we'll ask you for some basic details about you and your family.
We'll also give you some paperwork to fill in so you can:
- express an interest in being assessed for fostering
- give your consent for us to undertake some checks
We'll also ask you for:
- three personal references, for example from friends, relatives, co-workers
- employer's reference, if you're working at the moment or have had a job in the past
- a reference about your health from your GP
- a reference from your health visitor, if applicable
After the home visit, we'll do some checks, including criminal record checks. We'll ask for a reference from your child's school, if applicable.
Once we've done our checks and have your references, we'll invite you to a Skills to Foster course, run by foster carers and social workers.
- will help prepare you for caring for a foster child
- is a great opportunity to meet other people applying to be foster carers
The course usually runs over two Saturdays, one Sunday and one evening session.
If you're interested in being a Short Break carer for disabled children, we run separate courses for this.
"The Skills to Foster course helped [us] realise what some children go through and how resilient they are. It was really useful to listen to real life stories from foster carers and consider things we wouldn't have thought about before.
The facilitators are knowledgeable and encouraging."
Jules and Ahmed, fostering with us since September 2017
We'll arrange for a social worker to visit you at home. They'll usually visit you six to eight times, depending on your family's circumstances.
The visits help us to get to know you and your family and better understand the skills and experience you have. We'll also answer any questions you might have about fostering and make sure you have all the information you need.
Once we've completed our visits, we'll write a report and make a recommendation to our fostering panel. The fostering panel is an independent group who make sure we've followed the right process. They'll tell us if they think you're suitable for foster caring.
You and your social worker will meet with the fostering panel, so they can get to know you and ask you a few questions.
Our fostering panel will then talk about your application. They'll make a recommendation to the fostering team senior manager about whether or not fostering is right for you.
If the fostering panel have made a positive recommendation, your application will most likely be approved.
If it isn't approved, you have the right to ask for an independent review.
Congratulations, you're now part of our fostering family!
We'll start looking for the right child or children for you to welcome into your home.
This is an exciting time for new carers. We'll give you plenty of help and support, and we're always here to answer any questions.