Preparing for your Initial Home Visit – Fostering Assessment
First step to Fostering Assessment, The initial visit is a meeting in your home, conducted by a recruitment officer / or social worker. For Sunbeam, the initial visit enables us to discuss key areas specifically relating to our recruitment strategy. For you, this is an opportunity to gather information to assist in your decision to foster, it is also an opportunity to ensure that Sunbeam will meet your needs as a foster carer.
Specific areas for discussion: fostering assessment questions
What is Fostering?
You are not expected to be experts however, it would benefit you to have an understanding of fostering, who needs foster care and why.
Preparation: please do read through the information contained on our website, and note down any areas where clarification would be beneficial to you.
Language and Literacy
During the home visit, we will be looking to gage your ability to communicate effectively in English. If English is not your first language, please do not feel under pressure. The initial visit is an informal discussion.
Your accommodation will be assessed, with reference to Health and Safety Standards, and bedroom sharing; we will also need to know if you rent or own the property, and if you currently have lodgers, regular visitors who stay over.
Preparation: If you will need to make adjustments to sleeping arrangements to ensure you have a spare room for fostering, please have a think about this before the visit. Please also discuss any changes with the other members of your household, especially if the directly effects them.
Time Available for Fostering
Your employment – hours of work, any planned changes to your working hours and how this can meet our requirements for flexibility and availability to the fostering task.
Preparation: You may find it beneficial to consider how supportive your employer would be, if you can reduce your working hours, or request flexible working. As an agency, our preference is to have a full time foster carer in the home. Please consider any changes to the finances of the household seriously.
Views of Applicant’s Children
You as applicants must discuss your plans to foster with your own children at an age appropriate level and establish their views.
Is there someone available in case of an emergency? Do you have family or friends for emotional and practical support?
Preparation: It would be useful if you could identify a number of people who would be able to fulfil this role.
Lifestyle – Health
Note any past or present serious medical problems or investigations. Do you smoke? It would be useful to inform of any regular ongoing medication / treatment which you or any member of the household are receiving, especially if specific consideration would need to be made.
Social and recreational activities
Do you have any experience of working with children in a voluntary or professional capacity? All information is relevant, and would only strengthen an application should you choose to make one.
Your marital status, any extended family and support networks. We would need to know brief details of any previous or ex partners, especially where children were born into the relationship.
Preparation: The assessment will require interviews with significant members of the family, and or previous ex partners. We recognise that this may be a difficult situation and are will be happy to discuss it’s relevance in regards to the fostering task.
Pets should not pose a risk to children and feeding and sleeping arrangements should be hygienic. You will have to clarify the breed of your dog.
Age Range/ Gender
Please consider the ages, gender of the children or young people you could look after. Is there a specific area you are most interested in, such as teenagers or parent and child for instance.
Discrimination & Diversity
An initial discussion will take place about your attitudes to people from other backgrounds (race; culture & language); religions; sexual orientation and disability.
Enquiry & Application form
Please take your time to complete these documents fully. The Stage 1 checks are a crucial part of the assessment and we need to ensure that we have undertaken all the relevant checks and references to support your application and assessment to become a foster carer.
We will also look to verify your identity as part of our safer recruitment practice. It would be useful to have your identification to hand.
The following checks and references are sought following acceptance of your completed application and once a decision to proceed to Form F has been made:
- DBS checks for all household members aged 18yrs +
- Medical checks for applicants
- Local Authority check for all addresses over the last 10 years
- Current employer references
- Previous employer references (if applicable)
- Voluntary work references (if applicable)
- School references where there are children aged under 16 years within the household
- Ex-partner reference (if applicable)
- Personal and family references
Process of fostering assessment
The process of fostering assessment is summarised below. Click each step for information to be displayed below. You will receive full support at all stages and help with anything you are unsure of.
Call us, complete an online enquiry form or arrange a call back
Sunbeam will contact you for an initial discussion and arrange for an enquiry form to be completed over the phone or online. If the enquiry is positive a worker will call you to book an appointment to come out and see you if you wish to proceed further with your enquiry.
A worker from Sunbeam will visit to discuss fostering with you further, to gather some background information about you and your family and to check you have appropriate bedroom space in your home and discuss any other Health & Safety related issues. At this point, you will be asked to provide photocopies of ID and some other documents and to sign a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check consent form. If the visit is positive application form can be completed following the home visit or alternatively this can be completed later and send to us by post.
The assessment process sometimes called a ‘home study’ or ‘Form F’ essentially involves a review of your suitability to provide foster care. This will be undertaken by a skilled member of our staff and you will receive full support at all stages. As part of the process, you will be required to:
1. Provide references – both personal and employment
2. Undertake a medical check with your GP (paid for by us)
3. Consent to other checks with Local Authorities, schools or other agencies
You will receive specific training through a three day training course to prepare you to foster and to achieve “Skills to Foster”. Attending courses will also allow you to meet other carers, share experiences and learn more about foster care. For carers wishing to look after disabled or challenging children, additional training will be provided at this stage.
Following completion of your training and fostering assessment, the report will be submitted to an Independent Panel for approval recommendations to be made in terms of the numbers and ages of children that can be placed with you. You will be asked to attend the Panel with the social worker who completed your assessment.
The Agency decision maker will have the final decision regarding your approval. Once approved you will then be a registered carer with Sunbeam Fostering Agency, and be able to take “looked after children” and young people into your home and care for them. You will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker to help and support you.
The path to becoming a Foster Carer requires a commitment to the assessment process and our current foster carers would be happy to share their experiences of the assessment process.
To become a foster carer contact us today.