When a child is placed with you by the social worker you must be approved as a foster carer. You may be a temporary foster carer or an approved foster carer – it will depend on how long the child has lived with you and the types of assessment that have been carried out.
- If you have taken on the child in an emergency you will probably be a temporary foster carer. This means that the social worker will have to find out certain information about you when they place the child with you, or as soon as possible afterwards. This includes asking you about any criminal records of any of the adults in the household. Even although there is often not enough time for a formal check to be made with the new Disclosure and Barring Service (which has replaced the Criminal Record Bureau) before the child is placed with you temporarily, it is important to be honest about any convictions or cautions when you are asked, as this check will be carried out as soon as possible afterwards.
If they have gathered information about you and decided that you are a suitable person to care temporarily for the child, you will be approved to foster the child for 16 weeks. This can be extended once only for an extra 8 weeks.
- During that time, they should assess you to be a fully approved foster carer if you want to foster the child for longer than this.
If you are not approved as a long term foster carer by the end of the 16 weeks (or in some cases 24 weeks) the child will probably be removed from your care however suitable you are. It is therefore very important that, as well as being assessed as a temporary foster carer, you also ask to be assessed as an approved foster carer straight away when the child is placed with you if you want to care for the child longer than 4 months.
This assessment for you to be an approved foster carer will look in depth at:
- your background,
- your relationship with the child and their parents, and
- what support you will need in order to raise the child.
The social worker will also get checks and references from a number of people. This will include:
- personal references from people who know you;
- a check with the local authority where you live;
- a medical examination by your GP;
- CRB checks on all adults in the household; and
- possibly some other references.
The social worker who does the assessment will write all the information they have gathered into a report which they will present to the fostering panel. The panel will consider this information and then recommend to Children’s Services whether or not you should be approved. Children’s Services makes the final decision.
If you are approved as a foster carer, this will be reviewed at least once a year. The first of these reviews will be taken back to the fostering panel which recommended your approval.
If, after the full fostering assessment is completed, you are not approved as a foster carer then the social worker must remove the child from your care. If you are not happy about this decision you can appeal to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). The child can be left in your care whilst your appeal is being decided.