22 September 2023

Foster care approval – how long does the application process take?

Foster care approval – how long does the application process take?

Overview: A summary of the process to become a foster carer, including how long it takes to become approved, the steps and assessments required. Plus, learn about the support for your journey available from Foster Careline in Lancashire and the North West.

About foster care approval in Lancashire

Are you considering fostering as a career? Committing to improving outcomes for children by becoming a foster carer can seem like a big step. It’s only natural that you want to do your research. We know potential foster carers at the beginning of their fostering journey have a lot of avenues to explore and questions to ask. Who should you register with? What types of fostering might you be able to offer? There’s a lot of information to weigh up and take in. Whether you’ve found the answers to your big questions and are ready to make an application or you’re in the early stages of exploring a career as a foster carer, clarity about the application process can help you plan your next steps.

How to get foster certified in Lancashire – the approval process

Across England, the Fostering Services Regulations guide the foster care application process for all agencies and local authorities. Wherever you’re based, your journey will begin with initial screening. You will also go through two stages of assessments that consider the suitability of fostering for you and your family. While mandatory checks form part of the application process, the timings of these checks, assessments and the help available for the process often differs between providers. At Foster Careline, we can offer dedicated support for your application for foster care certification in the North West. From your first point of contact through to panel approval, our team will be on hand to provide support and advice on what comes next. Our FAQs are a great place to learn more about what to expect.

How long does it take to be approved as a foster carer?

The foster carer approval process from your very first chat through to certification/approval usually takes 4-6 months. Most people complete their application journey at around five months, but this does vary according to circumstances. 

  • Talk to us

Whether you meet us in person at one of our events or make an enquiry by phone or online, we’ll chat about your circumstances and note key information.

  • Meet with us

After your initial enquiry, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with a social worker. You will discuss fostering in greater detail and ask any questions you might have. Depending on the circumstances, the social worker may arrange to visit you at your home.

  • Preparation training

After your allocated social worker chat, you will be invited to one of our training groups. The training will help you prepare for a career in foster care and to decide if the role is right for you. At the Skills to Foster pre-approval training, you will also get the chance to meet other potential foster carers.  In total, you will complete six three-hour training sessions. Once completed, if mutually agreed, you will be asked to complete an official fostering application form

  • Allocation social worker

Once your application has been screened and accepted, we will assign one of our social workers to carry out your assessment, which is called the form F assessment.

  • Assessment stage one

Assessments for all prospective foster carers start with mandatory checks. These include:

Enhanced criminal records (DBS) checks for all applicants and anyone over the age of 18 who lives with you. You will also complete a medical with your GP and submit four references. Your references should be two personal references, a family member reference, plus a reference from your employer (current or last).

  • Assessment stage two

After stage one checks, stage two of the assessment starts. The second stage usually takes around four weeks. Your assessing social worker will visit you at least six times to prepare a report about you, your family, and your fostering suitability. You will have the chance to read and discuss the completed assessment form.

  • Panel interview

A Fostering Panel of professionals and independent individuals (including foster carers) will consider your completed assessment form. You will attend the panel with your assessing social worker.

  • Approval

The foster panel will collectively discuss your application, making a recommendation about approval for consideration by the agency decision maker. You will be told verbally and in writing if you have been approved as a foster carer. If you are successful, the local authorities will be informed of your availability.

  • Matching

The next step after successful approval is for our placement officers to start looking for a suitable young person in need of foster care who matches well with you and your family circumstances. When there’s a suitable match, you will be provided with information about the young person and decide if you’d like to be matched.

Ongoing training & support for approved foster carers

As an approved Foster Careline foster carer, you will have access to our comprehensive training and support. Thanks to our partnership with the Five Rivers Childcare Family – a social enterprise committed to changing the lives of young people, we are also able to offer many benefits that many smaller providers simply can’t access. From specialist training for foster carers through to therapeutic assessments for the children in your care, we offer additional support that our foster carers tell us makes a world of difference. 

Should you decide to withdraw or pause your application at any time, this will not affect any application you wish to make in the future. The Foster Careline team will also support and guide you through the application process.

How do I get started?

Are you ready to help Foster Careline improve outcomes for children by becoming one of our foster carers? Contact our carer enquiry team to start your application process online, or call us on 0151 391 0175 for a no-obligation chat.