So, you’ve made the leap. You’ve taken the first step on your journey to becoming a foster carer. Congratulations!
You’re probably feeling excited, apprehensive or even a bit scared; this is totally normal! The fostering assessment is a process which is unusual for a person to go through, and it is incredibly thorough because it needs to be; to safeguard your family and the children you will care for.
There are things that you can begin to think about to prepare for the assessment process. These helpful hints and tips should give you some ideas about how to get the most out of your assessment, and how to make the process as streamlined as possible.
- Think about what your motivation is to foster and keep it in view. Quite often, people who have come through the assessment process say that it was more ‘intrusive’ than they expected it to be, and at times found this difficult. They also say, however, that it was a ‘means to an end’ and something which they understood had to be thorough for them to achieve their goal of caring for children and young people. If you are worried about anything at any stage in the assessment, talk openly to your assessor.
- Think about your history. Your assessing Social Worker will be aiming to essentially write your life story for the purpose of pulling out the experiences, skills and qualities that will make you a good foster carer. This is no mean feat, and it will benefit you both if you have already thought about significant dates, schools, employers, home addresses etc.
- Do your homework. You will be asked to care for some of society’s most vulnerable children. During the assessment you will receive training, but your learning will also benefit greatly from doing some of your own research. With your application pack, you will have received a resource list of some interesting publications and websites, but also… talk to other foster carers, watch documentaries, read news articles. Anything that sparks your interest in the field of childcare, child development and fostering will prepare you for more engaging discussions during the assessment.
- Speak to your Personal Referees. The friends you put forward as those able to give you a personal reference need to be prepared for our letter and call. They will be asked to undertake an interview themselves, usually at their home, after they have submitted their written reference and it is only right that they are aware of this before they agree to it.
- Try to stick to your Assessment Agreement. Lots of missed sessions will mean delays in the process. Things happen, like illness, but try to stay on track as best you can.
- Be honest! Your assessing Social Worker will be asking you a lot of personal, sensitive and sometimes difficult questions about you and your life. They are trained and qualified to do so, so be assured that what you talk about will be treated with professionalism and respect. Their job is to assess your suitability to foster, and what you tell them will be evidenced, or indeed not, by the background checks and references that will be undertaken alongside the interviews. You may be reluctant to tell them about some aspects of your life, for whatever reason, but remember that it is human nature to have perhaps made decisions or choices in the past that we regret. It is ALWAYS better to be honest throughout every aspect of your assessment so that we can try to work through any concerns..
Most importantly, try to enjoy the assessment! Its goal is to showcase your skills and qualities, so tell us what they are! Have confidence in yourself and know that what you are ultimately aiming to do is rewarding, fulfilling and admirable beyond measure. Good luck!
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency that covers the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands.
If you're thinking about fostering but would like to know more about the assessment process, contact us: