Becoming a foster carer
If you can offer a spare bedroom and feel you could provide a loving and caring environment for a child, fostering could be for you.
Many children in Richmond, Kingston and Windsor & Maidenhead need foster carers who live in these boroughs so they can stay close to the people and places they know, and go to the same school.
To minimise the sense of disruption, we also try to match children with foster carers who share their cultural background.
You can foster if you:
- Are single, married or cohabiting
- Are straight or LGBT+
- Have a spare bedroom
- Have experience of looking after children
- Have a strong partnership or family and friends network
- Are from any cultural background
- Are over 21 (there isn’t an upper age limit)
- Are living in stable accommodation
- Are in good health (if you’re disabled you can still foster if you can do the caring tasks)
- Have a good understanding of English
- Can use email and the internet (or be prepared to do some basic training)
- Are willing to attend ongoing fostering training
- Have permanent residence (homeowner or renting)
At Achieving for Children, the most important thing about being a foster carer is the kind of person you are, and we look for qualities like:
- Accepting of children from other cultural backgrounds
- Being non-judgmental about a child’s birth parents and why a child is in care
- Understanding it may take time for a child to respond
- Coping with an angry or distressed child
- Accepting that your house may become messy
- A sense of humour
- Accepting that a foster child is not your own and will eventually move on
All foster carers go through health and criminal records checks. You won’t be able to foster if you have any convictions against children or for violent offences. If you’ve been convicted for other offences, you might still be able to foster, but you’ll need to let us know so we can check your situation.
If you meet all the practical requirements, a home visit will be arranged to discuss further.
Fostering assessment stage one
After the visit if both you and our member of staff feel fostering could be right for you, you may now register your interest to become a foster carer and begin stage one of the fostering assessment.
During this stage, we will carry out an enhanced criminal record check (DBS), local authority and employer checks, write to friends and family for references, and ask you to undertake a full medical check-up.
Skills to Foster course
During stage one of the fostering assessment, applicants are required to attend a fostering preparation group. This is usually a three-day course which takes place over two consecutive weeks and may include a Saturday or evenings.
You will find out about the needs of the children, the legal aspects of being a foster carer and how fostering might affect your life. It will also give you a chance to meet other prospective carers.
Fostering assessment stage two
You will be allocated a social worker from the team, and they will visit you at home to complete the assessment. The process lasts typically between three and five months.
The assessment will look at your background and your understanding of children. It will also allow you to decide with your social worker what you want to offer, such as your preferred age range and if you wish to provide short term or long term foster placements for children.
The social worker will produce a report of the assessment. You will be able to contribute to this and see the final report.
The report is submitted to the Fostering Panel who will make a recommendation about your approval as a foster carer.
The panel is made up of professionals from social work, health and education, as well as independent members with a range of experience from different backgrounds.
You will be invited to attend the panel meeting with your assessing social worker, and the panel will let you know its recommendation at the end of the session.
The panel’s recommendation will be passed to the Agency Decision Maker, to make the final decision about your approval as a foster carer, and you will receive a letter confirming the decision.