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How is Your Past Considered for Fostering

It naturally goes without saying that to ensure the welfare of potentially vulnerable children, anyone applying to become a registered foster carer needs to be vetted thoroughly using a foster parent background check.

Your current living situation provides a valuable insight into the type of environment, quality of life and guidance a child in your care would receive. However, deeper checks also need to be carried out in order to determine whether you’re a suitable applicant. Here you’ll discover everything you need to know about the background checks carried out before you can be approved as a foster parent.

Fostering Application Process

All applicants go through a series of background checks before they can be approved. This is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. Firstly, a social worker will visit your family home to discuss your current situation. They’ll tell you everything you need to know about the application process and how it works.

Detailed application forms will then need to be filled in, including details on your medical history. A criminal background check will also be carried out. The criminal background check is an especially important part of the process, as foster children are often vulnerable and it is essential to place them into safe homes.

After these application forms have been completed and assessed, you’ll need to undergo a panel meeting with individuals from a fostering, educational and care background. You don’t need to be worried about this meeting. By this point you’ll have already successfully passed most of the foster care application process and will have the help of a supporting social worker beside you.

As the assessments and background checks need to be thorough, the entire process can take between four to eight months. Obviously local authorities and agencies alike are keen to have as many willing and able foster carers on board as possible. This means they will always look to avoid any unnecessary delays.

As well as a background check, your home will also need to be vetted to ensure it’s suitable for fostering. This means checking to see the child will have their own bedroom space for example. You’ll also need to undergo training to ensure you have the right skills to foster a child. Once you’ve completed your training you’ll be in a position to accept your first foster placement once the panel meeting is over.

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How does my history affect me being a foster parent?

All applications are dealt with on an individual basis. While your history is looked into, it may not necessarily affect your chances of becoming a foster parent. For example, if you have a previous criminal conviction, it may not prevent you from becoming a foster parent depending upon the circumstances. So while history is important, it isn’t automatically going to affect your chances of fostering right now.

Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

Also referred to as Police Checks, enhanced disclosure and barring service checks are an important part of the application process. Though a criminal record per se doesn’t entirely rule out an applicant from fostering, individuals with an offence against a child or any violent crime are highly unlikely to be selected. This check will also apply to your partner.

Whether or not you meet the required foster parent criteria depends upon the nature and circumstances of the offence and how long ago it was committed. If you have a caution or criminal conviction it is important that you are open and upfront about it when making any application to foster.

References

A number of references will be taken from applicants including recent and previous employers. Particular attention will be paid to any previous work involving children. Agencies often strive to meet with one or two of the applicant’s referees in person in order to further validate the assessment.

Medical Examination

All prospective foster carers must undergo a medical examination. Your GP/specialist will provide information on whether there are any medical issues that may affect your ability to foster. Once again, it is important to be honest about any issues you think might affect your ability to foster.

Applicants who suffer from health issues are not automatically ruled out from being foster carers. Much depends upon the nature of the condition itself and the positivity of your approach to managing it.

It should however be noted that if you or your partner are a smoker, this will limit the age range of children who can be considered to enter into your care.

Additional checks and considerations

Checks on ex-partners may also be carried out and in recent years, checks on social media profiles have even been carried out. Your level of English language proficiency is also considered important for the purposes of communicating with foster children and reporting back on their progress.

Finally, the main carer must be a British resident or have indefinite right to remain in the UK, so as to ensure continuity for children placed in care.

Overall these checks may seem intrusive, but they are essential for the welfare of the child. If you are concerned that your history might affect your ability to foster, it is worth contacting the agency to discuss your situation.

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