A successful foster carer application goes far beyond you deciding that you’d like to foster a child or young person and us nodding and saying, “yes, they’d be great foster carers”. You also must undergo a rigorous assessment called The Form F Assessment. We believe in being honest with everyone in the Affinity Family and will admit that it can be an intense experience, but it’s understandable. We want to ensure that any children in our care will be placed in safe and nurturing households (the Government does too).
The Form F is designed to provide a complete, in-depth and accurate overview of your family and home life. For many, it may feel like your life is being picked over with a fine-tooth comb, and you’d be right; no stone is left unturned. For anyone considering applying to be a foster carer, you must be prepared to talk to an Independent Social Worker about your childhood, past relationships, finances, relationships with your family (and your co-applicant’s family if you're not applying as a single carer), and the relationship between you and your co-applicant. You will even have to provide information on the veterinary care that your pet receives and detailed information on its training and temperament. Questions like “does your cat enjoy being picked up?” shouldn’t faze you.
The most important thing to remember throughout the assessment is that you should tell the truth. Not telling the truth could have a far more significant impact on your fostering application than something you are embarrassed by or think would stop you from fostering. In all cases, honesty truly is the best policy (and that includes telling the Independent Social Worker if your dog begs for treats at dinner).
All Form F applicants have to undergo a medical check with their GP and fill in an Adult Health Report Form. This is so they can check that there is no medical reason why you shouldn’t foster. You should also remember that living with a disability won’t stop you from being a foster carer. If you have an ongoing medical problem that a consultant treats, your consultant will also need to be contacted.
We always recommend booking your medical check at the start of the process as sometimes it can take some time to get organised. This is also the case for your enhanced DBS checks which we will conduct on your behalf. The last thing we or you want is a delay over paperwork.
Yes, they may visit on several occasions. There will be numerous reasons for this, but predominantly they will want to see if your home is a safe environment for a young person or child to live in. They’ll check things like where you keep your 12, 15, and 18 rated DVDs and games, how safely and securely things like medicines are stored, whether you have smoke detectors installed, and whether it is a safe atmosphere. We’ll also ask for your boilers to be checked as safe by a professional every year. Your Independent Social Worker will probably make suggestions to you to make changes. These won’t be criticisms of your home, just nudges to help you in the right direction to complete your assessment successfully.
The Independent Social Worker will also want to visit to learn about you and your family and how you interact with each other. They want to learn about your personality and what makes you tick.
The assessment can take up to 8 months which means that you can spread the tasks and visits by the Independent Social Worker out. This also gives you time to gather all the relevant information that you need and make any improvements or changes to your home ready for fostering.
There’s quite a list, and we recommend keeping it all together in a folder (that’s good practice anyway). They will need to be original documents (photocopies and scans are inadmissible).
· Payslips for the last three months or P60. If you are self-employed, you should provide your SA302 for the past three years; you can get this from HMRC.
· If you are unemployed, you need to provide benefit award notification letters or a letter from the Benefits Agency confirming the benefits you received.
· Your Inland Revenue tax credit notification (if relevant).
· Your most recent annual mortgage statement or rent statement.
· A personal credit check.
· The birth certificates for everyone living in the household.
· Your marriage or civil partnership certificate/s (if relevant).
· Your National Insurance numbers.
· Any Divorce or dissolution certificates (if relevant).
· Passports for everyone living in the household (if they have a passport).
· Driving licences for all applicants.
· MOTs for all vehicles in the household.
· Your motor, contents, and buildings insurance (if your policies are renewed during the assessment period, you must show the new policies).
· Veterinary records for pets and Pet Insurance (if available).
They want to build up a fully rounded picture of you and your family and discover what has made you decide to foster. Because of this, they will need to know about any traumatic or sensitive events in your life. One reason for this is that they will want to see how well you have dealt with them and what skills and abilities you have learnt as a result. You’ll also be asked to write a detailed chronology about all your significant life events, for example, births, deaths, marriages, divorces, when you moved house and when significant friendships started. You will be asked to develop an eco-map of all your family and friends who will become a wider part of your support network for fostering.
At all points, you should remember that this information is being given so we can ensure that a child or young person is placed in a caring and safe home. If, for example, you had a traumatic childhood yourself or were in an abusive relationship, this may mean that you have the empathy and understanding to support a young person who has experienced trauma themselves.
The Form F Assessment requires you to provide the details of people who can give a character reference for you. You’ll also be asked for information about your current and past employers. Additionally, if you have worked or volunteered with children or vulnerable people, you will also need to give details on this so they can check for any potential safeguarding issues.
Because you are applying to become a foster carer, your independent social worker may ask to see you interacting with children who are a similar age to the ones you want to welcome into your home. They will ask for photos of your family household including the room(s) available for fostering. Then, as part of the process for getting ready to foster, we, with you, will compile a written description of yourselves and amenities in the local area which will become your Welcome Book that will be shared with any prospective foster child and give them a great insight into you and your local area.
One of the primary purposes of Form F is to assess whether you and your household are ready to foster a child or young person. With that in mind, it is important to see whether you’re financially prepared to foster. While Affinity Fostering provides a very generous fostering allowance, it is necessary to check that your home is financially stable. Therefore, as a minimum, you will be expected to provide:
· A credit report
· Your rent account (people with a mortgage will have verification through the credit check)
· Your bank statements for the last three months
· Your most recent annual mortgage statement or rent statement
· Your most recent loan, credit card and store card statements
· Your council tax statement
· Your most recent utility bills, i.e., electricity, gas, and water rates.
You’ll also be asked to detail your monthly outgoings.
It is important that you are IT literate and have access and use of IT equipment. You will be set some homework to complete as part of your Form F assessment as well as training that can be completed in your own time. Training will include safeguarding, attachment, and bonding, caring for traumatised children, managing challenging behaviour, and positive parenting techniques.
You will also be invited to attend our Skills to Foster course – a two day weekend training event that goes through the fostering task in far more detail and you will get to meet some of our social workers as well as a current foster carer, a looked after young person and of course other prospective foster carers. This training course always receives brilliant feedback in getting you all ready to foster, and helps you to build a great relationship with some really important people in Affinity.
Far from it. While they are independent and completely separate from Affinity Fostering, your Independent Social Worker is there to support and guide you through the application process. Alongside that, our team is always here to help you and answer any questions, and we have a really handy FAQ page.
You will be far from on your own.
Our team are always here to have a chat when you need to, whether it’s someone in the office or one of our dedicated social workers. All you need to do is pick up the phone or drop us a message.