There are several steps you will need to take to become a foster carer. Usually, the application and assessment process will last for around 5 to 6 months from when you first contact us. This will be less time if you are transferring to us from another fostering agency.
Step 1. Let us know you are interested in fostering
Step 2. A social worker will visit you at home
We will visit your home to talk to you about fostering. We will ask you about your background and why you want to foster. We also need to take a look around your home to assess suitability.
If we think it's the right thing for you to foster, we send you an application form.
Step 3. Submit your application and start the assessment process
Once we have received your application form, we will carry out checks and references. Some of these are:
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for criminal convictions and police cautions on you and anyone over the age of 18 who lives in your home.
- Information from your GP to confirm you are healthy to foster.
- Four personal references from people who know you well.
There are other checks and references too.
You will then be invited to attend the Skills to Foster training course. The course is a mixture of online and face-to-face sessions. The course will prepare you for what to expect when you start fostering.
We will match you up with an experienced foster carer 'buddy' who will support you through the process and your first year of fostering.
This first stage of assessment usually takes around 2 months.
Step 4. The fostering assessment
Your assessing social worker will visit you at home 8 to 10 times to gather information for the assessment report, they will need to speak to everyone in the home.
The assessment report covers things like your childhood, job and relationships. We will also explore your capacity for parenting and any previous childcare experience you may have.
If you have children, we will talk with them about their views. We also provide them with training and support to help them understand and feel comfortable about fostering.
Your social worker will complete an assessment report and share this with you.
This second stage of the assessment usually lasts around 3 to 4 months.
Step 5. Meet with the fostering panel
You will attend a panel meeting with your assessing social worker. The panel will have read your assessment report and will ask you some questions. They will then advise whether you should be approved to foster.
The panel is usually made up of independent social workers, a care-experienced young person and people with an understanding and experience of fostering and adoption.
The panel advises on whether to approve you and will give you their recommendation on the day you visit.
The final decision to approve you as a foster carer is made by our Agency Decision Maker. This usually happens within two weeks of your recommendation from the panel.
After this you will be an approved foster carer and you will have a supervising social worker who will support you throughout your years of fostering. They will prepare you for the arrival of your foster child. You may have a foster child come to live with you very soon after your approval.
What is a fostering panel meeting?
We will support you every step of the way, from assessment to approval and beyond. We also offer you the opportunity to do more training and will help you join our network of foster carers across Surrey. We have social workers available to you 24/7. You will always have people to talk to and someone to call for advice.
Get in touch to start your fostering journey
If you have a question that's not covered here, please get in touch. We're always happy to answer any question about fostering, or just have a friendly chat.
You can join of our online information events at any time. You'll be able to chat to some of our foster carers and a young person who has been fostered.
Files available to download
Sharing your information (PDF)
A leaflet for service users, their families and carers about what information we hold and how we share information.