At Surrey County Council we provide all our carers with a comprehensive programme of training and support both during their assessment and following approval as foster carers.
During your assessment
During the assessment, which can take around six months you will undertake an introductory programme of training. You can find out more on the Which fostering is right for you? page, although most carers will attend the Skills to Foster training.
As well as attending training you will have the opportunity to meet other prospective carers, existing foster carers and occasionally fostered young people at support groups. Our carers say that this opportunity has been invaluable to help them understand their role and talk frankly about the challenges of fostering. We would also match you up with a "buddy" – an experienced foster carer in your local area who can offer you additional guidance during the assessment process and support you when you start to care for your first fostered children.
A key person is your supervising social worker who will meet you regularly and help you prepare for your panel assessment, which is the final step to becoming approved as a foster carer with Surrey County Council.
Following your assessment
Surrey runs a range of support groups throughout the county for its foster carers so you are sure to find one that is convenient for you. Most groups meet once a month and are a good way of sharing experiences, gaining knowledge and getting support from other carers.
Your training will continue after your approval as a foster carer and Surrey offers a wide range of courses on child development and attachment theory, safeguarding, practical sessions on first aid to name but a few. You can access training online and through classroom learning and the fostering service has a well-stocked library of relevant publications for foster carers. Surrey is particularly proud of its social pedagogy approach.
Depending on the type of fostering you do you will be expected to complete the national Training Support and Development standards for foster care in your first year of being approved.
You will also become a member of the Fostering Network which provides information on all areas of fostering including financial and legal advice as well as member discounts on holidays, days out and home insurance.
Skills to Foster
As part of the assessment to become a foster carer, you will attend the Skills to Foster training. It gives you the basic knowledge you need to start fostering safely.
You attend a session a week over a six weeks, the same evening each week between 6.30 and 9.30pm, plus one whole Saturday, or four Saturdays.
If you are a couple, both of you need to attend.
You will do the training with other people who are also being assessed to become foster carers, with a maximum of 14 people in each group.
A member of the fostering service and an experienced foster carer deliver the training, with a child in foster care coming along to help at one of the sessions.
The feedback we get from our participants tells us that people usually enjoy and appreciate the training, and feel it helps to feel prepared for fostering their first child/children.