Talk to us about fostering 01722 442 725

The complete guide to becoming foster care approved

Overview A look at the criteria, qualifications, process and steps needed to become an approved foster carer,  and how long the foster care approval process takes.

When it comes to the positive life-changing potential of careers, few compare to the role a foster carer plays in the lives of the young people they care for. At Five Rivers, it’s our job to find individuals and families who are committed to taking on a position that is both a responsibility and a privilege. Could it be the career for you?

How to become a foster carer 

Today we’re going to guide you through everything you need to know about the process of how to become a foster family – from the criteria you’ll need to meet and the characteristics and qualities that could help you in the role through to the milestones of the application process so you know what to expect and when. We’ll introduce the support you can access as a new foster carer, including how you’ll be financially rewarded for the important job you do. If at any point you find yourself with a question you can’t find the answer to, we’d urge you to contact our foster carer enquiries team. They’re a friendly bunch and able to offer additional advice and address specific queries in more detail based on their everyday experience supporting potential foster carers just like you.

What qualifications do I need to be a foster carer?

When we look at foster carer applications, there isn’t a particular qualification we look for or expect you to have. However, the national careers service has some suggestions for learning areas that might help you plan a career as a foster carer. What’s really important to us is that you’re passionate about making a difference for a child or young person. 

You’ll need to meet some other essential criteria to be considered.

You will need to:

  • be over the age of 21
  • have a furnished spare room (not used by anybody else)
  • commit to undergoing training and development

Once you’re an approved foster carer, you’ll work in partnership with professionals and others involved in caring for the child or young person staying with you.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

At Five Rivers, we aim to make applying to foster as simple as possible. From the first enquiry through to foster care approval, we find the process usually takes between 4-6 months. In most cases, approvals are completed in five months.

How hard is it to become a foster carer in the UK?

Wherever you are in the UK and whichever foster care provider you decide to work for, there are mandatory checks and assessments that must be passed for you to be approved as a foster carer, as detailed on What can differ is the order background checks and assessments happen and the help and information available to you at each stage. 

We recognise that the process can be time-intensive, and questions can pop up along the way. We’ll let you know the outcomes at each stage as quickly as possible, and our Carer Recruitment Team will also be on hand to offer support and answer questions about the process.

The step-by-step process for becoming a foster carer

Initial enquiry

Whether you met our Carer Recruitment Team at an event, gave us a call or made contact online, we’ll chat through your circumstances and gather key information. 

Initial home visit

One of our team will get in touch to further discuss your interest in fostering. They will also arrange a visit to your home and gather more information as part of the selection process.


After your initial home visit and once your completed application form has been submitted, we’ll allocate one of our social workers to carry out your foster care approval assessment.

Two-Stage Comprehensive Assessment

Stage One:

Stage one assessments look at your suitability to become a foster carer. We’ll look at your circumstances, including who lives with you, your accommodation and your health. Each member of your household will have a disclosure and barring check. 

Time until the next stage: Within ten days of receiving completed checks and information, you will be informed of our decision in writing. If successful, you will progress to assessment stage two.

Stage Two:

This stage is a joint assessment of applicants and their families, who must participate fully. Your allocated social worker will visit you in your home at least 7-10 times for this assessment.

Preparation Training

‘Skills to Foster’ is a preparation training course that forms part of the assessment process. The course will help you prepare to become a foster carer. It will help you make an informed choice about whether fostering is the right choice for you and your family.


You will be able to read your completed assessment report and attend our fostering panel alongside your social worker. The  panel will consider the report and recommend whether you should be approved as a foster carer(s). They will also give feedback about what has led them to their decision.


We will write to you and verbally inform you about the recommendation outcome and whether you have been approved as a foster carer.


The next step is for our Placements Officers to start carefully looking for a match with a child or young person.


Once the Placement Officers have identified a suitable match, you will receive information about the child or young person. You will then decide whether to go ahead with the placement.

Training and Support

As an approved foster carer with Five Rivers, you will have access to a  comprehensive and free training programme. You will also receive ongoing support in your role from your supervising social worker and local fostering team.

How much are foster carers paid in the UK? 

Sometimes when people speak to us about their interest in fostering, they feel awkward asking about money. We want you to have all the financial information you need to help you decide if fostering is for you. You can read about pay and allowances or contact our enquiries team for more detail. 

How to become a foster family – the first step

You can explore what it’s like to be part of the Five Rivers family by reading fostering stories. When you’re ready to start your fostering journey, register your interest with our carer enquiries team.

Enquire Today

Do you feel you have the energy and true commitment to make a positive difference to a child’s or young person’s life?

Get in Touch
Request a Call