You’ve had your Initial Call and completed your Pathway To Foster Visit, maybe at your home. You’re now ready to move into the assessment process - but what does that involve?
We’ve answered some of the most common questions we hear from potential foster carers as they step forward to help Rotherham’s looked after children.
What are the different stages of the assessment process?
There are three main stages:
Stage 1: Application
We’ll meet up with you and other members of your household to chat about fostering and make sure everyone understands what is involved. If everyone’s on board then we’ll give you an application form to fill out. You’ll also be assigned a special social worker who will stay with you for the first stage of the process so that you can get to know each other and feel comfortable in accessing any support you need. One of the things your social worker is there for is to help you to complete the application form. They often come and do this with people in person, so don’t ever be concerned about reaching out for help. We get really great feedback about the support we offer. Current foster carer Sam says, “The support we received from the social worker throughout the process was excellent. She explained everything thoroughly and supported us every step of the way. Her guidance and constant encouragement was invaluable.”
This is a great time to sit and have a chat with your social worker and ask as many things as you like about what fostering with us is all about. They’ve got such a lot of experience that they’ll be able to give you a great foundation for the incredible journey you and your family are about to begin together.
“The support we received from the social worker throughout the process was excellent.”
Stage 2: Assessment
You’ll now be assigned your own personal social worker who specialises in helping people through assessments. They will meet up with you regularly throughout this stage, so you’ll get to know each other really well and build up a great bond. Foster carer Andrea remembers that, “We felt at ease from day one of meeting her, it was like a new friend calling for a cup of tea and a chat each visit.” Your social worker will continue to help you with any further paperwork that needs completing.
The assessment stage is also when you will do your first piece of training. This is called Skills to Foster™ and is led by our Fostering Team and existing foster carers like Steph, whose story you can read here. Everyone’s really approachable and many foster carers find this one of the most enjoyable and interesting parts of the process. Not only does this give them a great insight into what it’s like to be a foster carer, they also really love meeting up with other people who are at the same stage of their fostering journey. This is where lots of our foster carers meet each other and make lifelong friends, like Zariah, who remembers, “The application process was intense but a great experience, we have met some amazing people and made great friends along the way.”
Stage 3: Support and approval
As you reach the end of the assessment period, you will work together with your social worker to complete a Fostering Assessment Report. You will be able to check over the report and add your feedback. You’ll then be invited to attend a Fostering Panel. Fostering Panels are made up of a range of people with experience of and expertise in fostering. They always include someone who has personal experience of foster care, so either a foster carer or a person who is care-experienced. This means that there’ll be someone there who will likely understand how you’re feeling. Panels also have social workers and medical advisers. Although this may seem daunting, members of panels are keen to stress that this is not like a job interview, it’s just a conversation aimed at getting to know you better to make sure that fostering is the right fit for you and to make sure that you have a support network around you to help you through your foster care journey.
How long does it take?
The whole process from initial enquiry to being a newly approved foster carer can take as little as 6 months. Sometimes it’s possible to do stage one and two of the assessment at the same time in order to move through the process more quickly. We’ll let you know if this is possible in your case.
Why do we need to ask so many questions?
The process is in-depth because the welfare of Rotherham’s children in care is our absolute top priority. We also need to make sure that fostering is right for you. This means we need to take a good look at the values and backgrounds of all potential foster carers to make sure they are a good fit. Don’t worry, though, this isn’t an exam! It’s all about working together to get the right result for everybody involved. In fact, many of our foster carers are pleasantly surprised by the process.
Current foster carer Becky remembers that, “The whole process was laid back and relaxed … and the panel was the same. RMBC aren't trying to trip you up or fail, they want to make sure you are the right person to be with their kids and that they make sure you get the right match for your family.”
“The whole process was laid back and relaxed.”
Learn more about fostering in Rotherham
If you have any questions about fostering in Rotherham, book a call back with a member of our experienced team at a time that suits you. All our call backs are confidential.