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What to expect when you apply to become a foster carer

What To Expect

Thousands of new foster carers are needed every year to care for the increasing number of children in need of a loving home. Many of these vulnerable young people have suffered trauma and neglect, making fostering both challenging and extremely rewarding.

Whether you’re exploring the idea of becoming a foster carer or you’re ready to take the plunge, you might be wondering what the fostering process involves and how long it takes for a child to arrive to your home.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through what to expect in your application process and beyond.


What is the process of becoming a foster carer?

Although there isn’t a set timeline for being matched to a child in care – this depends on the child, their needs and their situation– there is a clear process to getting you approved as a foster carer. This process usually takes four to six months but varies case by case.

Let’s run through the eight-step process you can expect to take:

  1. Enquire — The first step is to get in touch with our fostering advisors for an informal chat. This is so we can learn more about you and answer any initial questions. If you change your mind about fostering, there’s no obligation to go any further with your application.
  2. Home visit — One of our fostering advisors will come to your house at a time that suits you. This is an opportunity to get to know you and your family better, explain the process in more detail, and answer any further questions.
  3. Apply — If we both feel that fostering is right for you now, we’ll ask you to fill in a detailed application form. There’s no rush to complete this, and our team will be on hand to support you whenever you need it.
  4. Review — Once we’ve got your application form, we’ll gather references and run all the necessary background checks and assessments. This can take a few months, but you’ll be kept up to speed throughout.
  5. Get to know you — Your assessor will spend time getting to know you and your family and will review your suitability. This time is also an opportunity to learn more about your hobbies and lifestyle so we can ensure the best possible match with a child or young person.
  6. Training — You will be invited to join our fostering training course, where you’ll get to meet other prospective foster carers.
  7. Panel interview — Before becoming an approved foster carer, you’ll need to meet with an independent foster panel – this usually takes about an hour. Some members of the panel will have a professional background in child or social care, while others will have direct experience with the fostering process. You can read more about what to expect from the panel interview in our conversation with independent panel member David Bazell.
  8. Approval — This is the exciting part! If you’re approved, you’ll meet your assigned social worker, who will be on hand to support you and your foster child. You’ll then be matched with a young person best suited to your circumstances and experience.


What support can you expect?

At Olive Branch Fostering, we’re here to help you throughout your journey – from your initial enquiry to your application and beyond. Whether you have questions about your application, foster carer checks, allowances or anything else, we offer 24/7 support.

Once you’ve been placed with a child, your dedicated social worker will visit at least once a month and will always be on hand to offer guidance. You’ll also get access to regular training courses and will be invited to meet other Olive Branch foster carers in our regular fostering forums.


What might a typical day look like as a foster carer?

A big part of your fostering journey to begin with will be about forging relationships, breaking through barriers, and establishing boundaries with the child or young person in your care. Foster carers can expect to take on all manners of roles from here, including nurturing hobbies, encouraging the child or young person’s hopes and dreams, easing their fears, working through their trauma, and encouraging them to open themselves up to new experiences.

You should establish a regular routine within your foster family, which might include meetings with the school, as well as medical appointments and social worker visits.

Read our Foster Carer Laura’s blog for more insights into fostering.


Thinking about fostering?

Starting a fostering journey can be both exciting and full of unknowns. To help you find the answers you might be looking for, visit our frequently asked questions page.

If you’re ready to apply to become a foster carer, take the first step today and get in touch with our friendly fostering advisors.





Fostering insights


  • Therapeutic

Date published

22 April 2024

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