Becoming a foster carer is a big decision. You need to make sure you’re ready for it and so do we. So when you take the plunge and pick up that phone to us, here’s a neat little process to walk you through what happens.

Initial Enquiry > Home Visit > Application Form > Stage 1 and 2 Assessment > Foster Panel > Approved Foster Carer

Firstly, we’ll have a chat with you on the phone. You can ask us questions and vice versa. From this, we’ll both learn more about whether fostering is the right path for you.

Secondly, we’ll come and visit you in your home. This gives us both another opportunity to ask questions and ensure fostering is right for you, your family and your home.

At this point, you’ll be invited to apply and then we launch into the assessment stage. It is a jam-packed assessment process and you’ll be assigned an assessing social worker who will be with you all the way. All of our foster carers have been through it, and they’ll tell you that it’s a real eye-opener. They’ll also tell you that they completely understand why it has to be such a thorough and comprehensive process. You are, after all, going to be looking after some of the most vulnerable children in Reading. Here’s how some of our foster carers found it:

‘My eldest daughter actually attended some of the courses with me when I applied, so she was very involved in the application and training process. And I learned a lot, especially as I attended quite a few courses to improve my understanding of children’s behaviours.’

‘The application process was long! I don’t think we quite realised what we had let ourselves into as we filled in some forms, and then some more forms came so there’s a lot of questions, a lot of going over all aspects of your life. It was quite tedious but I completely get why the social workers have to do it. It has to be long. They have to kind of test you and see how committed you are which is good.’

‘I found it really thorough. Some people say it’s intrusive but I was really heartened by it. I’m really pleased that they spoke to my family about it as it showed that I was serious about becoming a foster carer and my family backed me up. In fact, even my parents were asking questions afterwards!’

There is no obligation at any point to continue if you decide that fostering might not be the right thing for you. Be honest with us and yourself about any fears, worries or concerns you may have, it’s perfectly natural and we will listen to you throughout.

We also don’t expect you to come already equipped with every skill you need to look after our vulnerable children and young people. Throughout the assessment stage, and sometimes before you apply, you will be asked to attend our Skills to Foster prep group. This is a multi-day course that focuses on the practical day-to-day skills that foster carers need. You will have the chance to meet our social workers. Our foster families, carers and their children, will also be there to give you a real life picture of fostering. You’ll learn:

  • What foster carers do
  • Children’s needs
  • The impact on you and your family
  • Safer caring
  • Working with professionals

As well as Skills to Foster, you will be invited to other core training courses to ensure you have the skills, knowledge and tools to support the child in your care.

Once you’ve gone through the assessment stage, you’ll be able to take your case to panel along with your assessing social worker. This is a group of professionals who will consider your application to become a foster carer and make a recommendation. The final decision for your approval to become a foster carer lies with the agency decision maker.

So if you’re thinking of fostering, and you’ve got the space in your heart as well as your home, get in touch. You could be just who we need.