Next steps to becoming a foster carer
Step 1: register your interest
Or phone our Fostering Team on: 01305 225568.
We will contact you by phone to talk through your interest in becoming a foster carer. We'll gather some information and answer any questions you may have. We'll either invite you to an information session to talk to other foster carers or offer you an experienced carer to can talk to.
Step 2: home visit
If you'd like to foster and you meet our criteria, we can arrange a home visit. A fostering team member will visit you at home, meet other family members and discuss the different types of fostering with you. They will also ask about you and your family and how you see fostering as part of your life.
Step 3: application form
We will send you an application form to complete with your personal information and consent for us to carry out the checks and follow up references.
Step 4: assessment references and checks
The assessment of you as a foster carer is a two-stage process:
A social worker will meet with you to discuss next steps.
We will then start a series of checks including:
- local authority checks
- medical, personal and employment references
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) on all adults in the home over 16 years old
Not all criminal convictions will stop you fostering, but it's important you tell us if you're concerned about your past.
We will also ask you to have a medical examination with your GP (at no cost to you) to make sure there are no health reasons that could stop you fostering.
We will also complete a health and safety check of your home.
We will invite you to attend our Journey to Foster preparation training course to help you prepare for fostering and to learn about the needs of children who are fostered. This is a chance for you to meet other people who are interested in fostering and to learn more about what's involved.
Once we've received all the checks and references, we will decide whether we can take your application forward to stage 2.
Your assessing social worker will visit you in your home over a number of weeks. They'll speak to you and people living with you. Together you will look at the task of fostering in more detail, your personal circumstances and qualities.
This will include information about:
- you and your family
- your support networks
- your skills and abilities for looking after children
- the type/s of fostering you and your assessor think will be best for you
You will be very much involved in providing information and evidence for this.
We will compile all the information gathered during your assessment, including references, into a report. This report will make a recommendation about your suitability to foster. We will ask you to read and comment on this document and to sign it.
What happens if you're not approved at the end of stage 2
If you're not approved as a foster carer at the end of stage 2, you can write to the Agency Decision Maker within 28 days to have your application reviewed at a foster panel.
You also have the right to contact the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM Fostering).
Once they have asked additional questions and clarified other points, they return your report to panel for a revised recommendation.
If you're not approved after resubmitting your report for a second time, we can't take your application any further.
Step 5: Fostering Panel
We submit the report about you to Dorset's Foster and Permanence Panel, which you attend with your assessing social worker.
If the panel recommend that you're approved to foster, the Agency Decision Maker will then make the final decision.
If the decision is that you can foster, you will then be registered as a foster carer for:
- a specific age range
- number of children
- type/s of fostering
Step 6: ready to foster
Congratulations! You're now a foster carer with Dorset Council.
Together with your fostering social worker, you'll look at the children who need a home.
You will receive ongoing support and guidance and start your post-approval training.