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Recruitment and Assessment of Foster Carers

Image by Daniel Thomas

In terms of outcomes for children in care, we at First Steps Fostering believe that recruitment of foster carers is as important as the training, support, and supervision we provide to foster carers once they are approved. This makes the recruitment and assessment processes crucial to us. Prospective foster carers have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. All prospective Foster Carers who make an enquiry are subject to rigorous assessment and vetting procedures. 

Initial Enquiry 

​When there is an enquiry from a potential foster carer, the Agency undertakes telephone contact where information gathering is completed. If the enquirer meets the initial set of criteria, an information pack is sent to them to provide details about the work of the Agency and the role of a foster carer.  

Initial Visits

An initial visit takes place in the home of the prospective foster carer(s). The initial visit will be booked within five working days from the completion of the telephone call to the prospective foster carer. If the initial visit is successful and both parties wish to proceed, the relevant documentation is discussed, and an initial visit report is completed and will be referred to as an initial viability assessment. This may extend over more than one visit. The applicant is then invited to complete an application form. ​

Medical Check

The applicant(s) is/are required to have a full medical assessment completed by their GP and the report is made available to our Agency Medical Adviser for comment about the applicant(s) health and any impact this may have on their fostering potential.  

Telephone Discussion 

Telephone contact will then be made with the prospective foster carer within one working day to book a home visit. 

Application Paperwork

The prospective foster carer(s) must complete an application form, giving detailed information about themselves and their family and consent to First Steps Fostering undertaking further checks and enquiries to determine their suitability to foster. These include:  

• Enhanced DBS checks on all members of the household over 18 years. These involve disclosure of information about any criminal convictions or cautions and other information, which may be held by the Police or Government Agencies relevant to the protection of children.  

• Enquiries to Social Services Departments and their Child Protection Registers.  

• Enquiries to other agencies where appropriate.  

References

The applicant is/are asked to identify three personal referees who will provide written references and be interviewed as part of the assessment process. One of these must be a relative of the applicant. When applicants have had previous partners, the agency requires their details as well: it is likely references will be sought from them, particularly when there are children from the relationship. References are also taken from past employers. References are taken in confidence but may not remain so. There may be a need to disclose the contents of a reference if it forms the basis of an agency decision not to approve a prospective carer. 

Training

All applicants are invited to Skills to Foster Training covering the responsibilities of being a Foster Carer and working with First StepsFostering Agency. All prospective Foster Carers must attend this training. First Steps Fostering makes use of the competencies approach in all stages of the recruitment, assessment, and approval of the foster carers. We endorse the view expressed in the Fostering Network Code of Practice that the use of common, standard assessment tools, such as those produced by the Fostering Network and the CoramBAAF Form F, will enable fostering services to achieve uniform standards. 

 

The assessment consists of Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Fostering Assessment: In accordance with The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013, which amended the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, the process that First Steps Fostering Agency follows for assessing a person’s suitability to foster consists of two stages. These stages can be carried out concurrently, but the information required for Stage 1 as defined in Schedule 3 Part 1 of the Regulations, must be sought as soon as possible, and the decision about whether an applicant has successfully completed Stage 1 must be made within 10 working days of all the information required in that stage being received. If during Stage 1 it is decided that an applicant is not suitable to foster, the applicant has no right to a review of this decision by the IRM, nor to make representations to First Steps Fostering Agency. If in Stage 2 a decision is made that the applicant is not suitable to foster then a brief report must be completed, the applicant advised, and their comments sought within 10 working days. After the 10 days, or following receipt of the applicants’ comments, whichever is sooner, First Steps Fostering Agency must send the report, any comments from the applicant and any other relevant information to the fostering panel. The applicant may, within 28 days, seek a review of this determination by the IRM or make representations to First Steps Fostering Agency. All information obtained about prospective Foster Carers is held on file in accordance with the Fostering Services Regulations 2011 and the Data Protection Act 2018. Upon request some of this information can be viewed. References from external agencies and personal references, which are given in confidence, cannot be accessed without the consent of both the subject and the relevant referees.  

 

Initial and ongoing training of foster carers: We are very aware that fostering is a challenging task, therefore we provide a comprehensive training programme which covers all relevant areas of care. We also support our carers to complete and achieve the Training Support and Development (TSD) Standard. Often rewarding, fostering can also be challenging and requires opportunities for reflection and learning. We are committed to providing high quality learning and development opportunities that are accessible, credible, and relevant to all our foster carers. It is especially important for us to recognize that every foster carer has a wealth of life experiences and skills which will contribute to the quality of their work and help them understand children and young people and their emotions and behaviours. However, at First Steps Fostering Agency we acknowledge that there are areas where our foster carers benefit from specialist training to help them meet the needs of children in their care. Alongside a dedicated programme for learning and development will be opportunities for bespoke learning tied to individual need and experience. 

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