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How long does it take to become a foster carer?

Short answer? Anywhere between 4- 6 months. Long answer? Well, there are no two ways about it; the journey to becoming a foster carer can be a long one. And at times it’s not always plain sailing. It’s a rigorous process designed to keep vulnerable children safe and to ensure that prospective foster carers have what it takes to take on a foster child and understand all that will be required of them. On initial enquiry or application to become a foster carer with Five Rivers, one of our carer recruitment team will contact you to tell you more about foster care in general and lay out the next steps of the recruitment process.

If you’re seriously considering foster care then it’s important to understand the various steps included in the recruitment process. From home visits and family interviews to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and risk assessments – no stone is left unturned when it comes to making sure we’re finding the perfect home for a vulnerable child or young person.

Upon application, you will be assigned a Five Rivers social worker who will spend a significant amount of time with you reviewing your previous professional and personal experiences as well as evaluating your skillset. Your social worker will also assess the suitability of your home as well as the other people that live in it including any other children. The relationship with your social worker should work both ways, they are there for you to use as a sounding board for any questions or concerns you might have about becoming a foster carer.

This is the longest part of the process and once your social worker’s assessment has been completed it is sent off to our Fostering Approval Panel for review. This is a chance for independent sector representatives and those with personal experience of the care sector, including former foster children and foster carers, to meet you and your social worker and discuss your application.

During the assessment process you will be required to take part in a training event with other prospective foster carers. Once the Panel has reviewed your social worker’s assessment, you will be invited to attend the Fostering Approval Panel with your social worker. If the Panel consider that the assessment shows you have the necessary qualities and skills, a recommendation will be made to Five Rivers that you be approved as a foster carer. You’ll get a notification of the final decision within ten days of the Panel meeting.

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