Becoming a foster parent

At AFA Fostering, we’re dedicated to supporting your journey towards becoming a Foster Parent. We prioritise finding the right foster family for every child, recognising the vital role strong relationships play in a child’s growth. We appreciate that fostering, like parenting, can be challenging but that it is also incredibly rewarding.

Our assessment and approval procedure is thorough and transparent, aiming to present a final evaluation to the Fostering Panel which illustrates what you have to offer as a Foster Parent. Throughout this process, we’ll keep you informed and address any queries you may have, providing a supportive, respectful environment.

We welcome your initial contact and aim to initiate a screening call to you within two days. Whether you’re an experienced Foster Parent seeking a new agency, or someone looking to start their fostering journey, we invite you to contact us. 

On this page we set out our recruitment and assessment process to give you a clear idea of what’s involved, and summarise the standards and expectations we have of our Foster Parents.  We are always looking to hear from people who can potentially care for children of all ages, including sibling groups as well as parents and their children.

Initial Visit and Application

At AFA, we ensure your fostering journey is a collaborative one, right from the initial stages. If your screening call is positive, we will aim to arrange an initial visit which gives us an opportunity to come to your home to meet you and your family. Here we will discuss the fostering role including the responsibilities and expectations placed upon a Foster Parent, along with skills and knowledge required. We will discuss the application and assessment process and consider any issues which may impact on a fostering application such as relating to health, accommodation, employment, or finances.

Should you be invited to apply, you’ll receive an application pack and on acceptance, we’ll commence Stage 1 of the Fostering Assessment process as per the Assessment and Approval of foster carers: Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4: Fostering Services (2013).

Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol England (2014)

Where an existing Foster Parent is seeking to transfer to AFA from another Fostering Service Provider (FSP), we work openly and transparently with that FSP using the Fostering Network’s Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol (2014), to ensure a smooth and efficient process.

Further information on the Transfer Protocol can be found on the Fostering Network website.

It is important to note that where you are invited to apply to AFA, before doing so you must submit an intention to resign and transfer agency letter to your current FSP. This is because you can only be approved by one fostering service at a time. AFA will not be able to progress your application if your FSP is not aware of your intention to transfer.

Stage 1 of the Assessment

In this initial stage, various checks are conducted to assess your suitability including DBS checks, Local Authority checks, Medical assessments, and references from various sources, including personal referees, previous partners, and educational establishments. A financial assessment considers your financial viability to foster. In addition, we undertake an Attachment Style Interview and depending on where you have lived, we may also undertake checks with other countries.

We consider all information gathered within Stage 1 in order to decide whether to progress to Stage 2, the assessment stage of the process.  Where information gained is positive, and to avoid delay as far as possible, we may decide to run Stage 2 concurrently before all Stage 1 information is gained.  In the event we decide not to proceed with your application, we’ll promptly communicate this decision to you with clear explanations as far as we are able to do so. Rest assured, if your enquiry concludes here, you’ll receive guidance on how to voice a formal complaint, should you wish to.

“Preparing to Foster” training course

At AFA, we include a comprehensive ‘Preparing to Foster’ (PTF) training within the application process. This training helps develop your understanding as to the fostering role and provides an opportunity for consideration as to whether it’s the right path for you and your family. In case of joint applications, both applicants must attend all sessions. The PTF is also an opportunity for our staff to understand more about you and your active participation helps us assess your suitability as a foster parent.

Moving on to Stage 2

As noted, in some instances, Stage 2, which is the formal assessment part of the process, may commence while Stage 1 is ongoing. It will be made clear to you if this occurs.

Stage 2 involves us completing assessment sessions with you and your family members, gaining in-depth information about you as individuals, your experiences and skills. We gather detailed information and evidence so as to consider your suitability further.    

During this time, you will also be expected to complete additional initial core training courses, such as Safeguarding and First Aid, which helps you be more prepared for the fostering role.

At AFA, we aim to complete the entire foster parent assessment within eight months from the application date to presentation to the Fostering Panel. However, this timeframe might vary due to factors such as delays in receiving reference information or your availability. Our dedicated AFA team will support you throughout this journey, providing you with the information you need to navigate the process with confidence.

Completion of Fostering Assessments

At AFA, we thoroughly assess prospective Foster Parents using our comprehensive Fostering Assessment Report.  The final Fostering Assessment Report brings together all information from checks, references, interviews, and training observations. The Report is shared with you for review before it’s presented to the Fostering Panel. 

Presentation to the Fostering Panel

At AFA, the final part of your assessment is the presentation to the Fostering Panel. The comprehensive Fostering Assessment Report, inclusive of your comments, and with information on all checks and references is submitted to the Panel to thoroughly consider.

Following the Fostering Panel’s recommendation

Following the Panel meeting, our ADM will consider all information to determine your suitability to foster. If approved, you’ll receive verbal notification, followed by a written confirmation and terms of approval.

Representations/Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)

If the ADM doesn’t approve an application, applicants can appeal within 28 days, prompting further Fostering Panel consideration. Alternatively, within the same 28-day period, applicants can request a review by the IRM.

After Your Approval

Upon approval as a Foster Parent with AFA, you’ll be assigned a dedicated Fostering Social Worker as your main contact. You’ll sign a Foster Parent Agreement and receive a comprehensive Foster Parent’s Handbook. You will also complete key induction training.

Get in touch to find out more about fostering

Already a foster parent?

We’d love to hear from experienced foster parents too. Find out more about transferring fostering agencies.