Becoming a foster parent

At AFA Fostering, we dedicate ourselves to supporting your journey to becoming a Foster Parent. Our main goal is to find the best foster family for each child. We understand the importance of strong relationships for a child’s development. 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. The aim is to present a final evaluation to the Fostering Panel which illustrates what you can offer as a Foster Parent. As we progress, we’ll provide regular updates and address any questions you may have. We’re committed to creating a supportive and respectful environment for you

Considering fostering? We’d love to hear from you! We aim to schedule a screening call within two days to discuss your fostering goals. Whether you’re an experienced Foster Parent or just starting your journey, we can help.

This page explains our recruitment and assessment process, so you know exactly what to expect. We also outline the standards and qualities we look for in our foster parents. We welcome people interested in caring for children of all ages, including sibling groups and families together.

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.

AFA fosters a collaborative journey from the start. If your screening call goes well, we’ll schedule a home visit to meet you and your family. During this visit, we’ll discuss the fostering role in detail, including the responsibilities, expectations, and required skills and knowledge. We’ll also walk you through the application and assessment process and address any potential concerns you may have about health, housing, employment, or finances.

If invited to apply, you’ll receive an application pack. On acceptance, we’ll start 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.

If we invite you to apply after your screening call, there’s one important step first. You’ll need to submit a letter to your current fostering service (FSP) stating your intention to resign and transfer to AFA. This is because you can only be approved by one fostering service at a time. AFA can’t process your application until your current FSP is informed.

Stage 1 of the Assessment

This initial stage involves various checks to ensure you’re a good fit including DBS checks, Local Authority checks, Medical assessments, and references from personal contacts, past partners, and schools. We’ll also assess your financial situation to see if fostering is viable for you. Depending on your residency history, additional checks from other countries may be required.

If everything looks good, we may even schedule your assessment interview (Stage 2) at the same time to avoid delays. We’ll consider all the information gathered to decide whether to move forward.

We’ll promptly let you know our decision on your application, with clear explanations whenever possible. If your application isn’t successful, we’ll also provide information on how to voice a formal complaint, should you wish to do so.

“Preparing to Foster” training course

Our application process includes comprehensive ‘Preparing to Foster’ (PTF) training. This training helps develop your understanding of the fostering role to help you decide whether fostering is 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. Your active participation helps us assess your suitability as a foster parent.

Moving on to Stage 2

Sometimes starting Stage 2 early can save time: We may begin your assessment interview (Stage 2) while we’re still completing background checks (Stage 1). We’ll always let you know if this happens.

During Stage 2, we’ll conduct assessment sessions with you and your family to learn more about you as individuals, your experiences, and your skills. We’ll gather detailed information to confirm your suitability for fostering.

At the same time, you’ll be able to take essential training courses like Safeguarding and First Aid. These courses will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to thrive as a foster parent.

Our goal is to complete your entire assessment within eight months of your application. However, this timeframe can vary depending on factors like reference checks or your availability. Our dedicated team will support you every step of the way, providing clear information to help you navigate the process confidently.

Completion of Fostering Assessments

AFA uses a thorough assessment process to ensure you’re a great fit for fostering. We compile all the information gathered throughout your application journey, including checks, references, interviews, and training, into a comprehensive Fostering Assessment Report. You’ll have a chance to review this report before it’s presented to the Fostering Panel.

Presentation to the Fostering Panel

The final part of your assessment with AFA is the presentation to the Fostering Panel. The Fostering Assessment Report, including your comments, is submitted to the Panel for consideration.

Following the Fostering Panel’s recommendation

Following the Panel meeting, our ADM will consider all information to decide if you will make a great foster parent. 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 your application, you 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

Once approved, 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.

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Already a foster parent?

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