The process and timescales

Learn about each step in the fostering journey and how we'll support you to become a foster carer.

Contact your local team

When you're ready, we're here with advice and support to help you through every step of your journey.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

From your initial contact with us, the process to become a foster carer can take 6-9 months depending on your individual circumstances.

Our aim is to assess everyone within a 4-6 month time frame.

We typically operate a three step process following your initial enquiry as below:

Initial enquiry

Once you enquire, we’ll give you a quick phone call.

We’ll ask you a number of questions about your circumstances and how fostering might work for you. This is an informal chat that will hopefully give you a better idea about whether fostering is right for you. It's the perfect time to ask us any questions!

If you wish to start your fostering journey, we’ll allocate you a dedicated social worker who will take you through the three step process.

Cheerful young woman in headphones video conferencing on computer at home office

The three step process

Step 1- The initial visit

This is either a virtual meeting or a social worker will come to visit your home and lasts approximately two hours. It’s basically a chance to get to know each other better.

We’ll have a more in-depth chat about your circumstances, your family, any experience you have that is relevant to fostering and the reasons you’re keen to become a foster carer. We’ll talk about your understanding of fostering and the needs of children in care. It’s also an opportunity for you to explore any further questions relating to the fostering journey and in particular fostering with Action for Children Fostering.

Step 2 - Application form

Once everyone is happy to continue onto the next step, we’ll send you an application form to complete and send back to us. It will ask you to provide personal information and further information about your circumstances.

Once we receive the application form back, we can start the assessment process.

You can call us if there’s anything on the form you’re not sure about; we’re here to help you!

Step 3 - The assessment

The assessment involves standard checks including a police DBS in England (Disclosure and Barring Service), PVG in Scotland (Protecting Venerable Groups), and an AccessNI in Northern Ireland. You will also need to have a medical.

Action for Children Fostering will pay for the cost of your medical which you will arrange through your own GP.

We’ll also need references from people who have known you for at least three years.

If all the checks are approved we will move on to the second stage.

Your background

This involves home visits to you and your family, which will include gathering relevant information on your background, experience, family life, and relationships. The assessment is also there for us to learn how best to support your needs as a foster carer.

Skills to foster course

Part of this stage of the process is the requirement to attend our three-day Skills to Foster training course. If you are in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, you will be asked to take this course before completing an application form. The training is currently delivered either in-person or online. It covers the essentials, helps you prepare for fostering, and raises questions that we’ll talk about during the assessment.

It'll give you a better understanding of what your role as a foster carer will be, the experiences and needs of children in care and the behaviours you may be required to manage. It'll also cover the teams and other professionals you'll work with around the child and the day-to-day skills that all carers need.

All the information gathered throughout the two stage process will be put together in a report and sent to the panel to review.

From enquiry to approval our process helps ensure a positive fostering experience for everyone.

Our trained social workers will visit your home and take you through the whole fostering process.


Once your Form F is complete it'll be shown and talked through with the independent fostering panel, who are usually from the health and social care sector. You and your social worker attend the panel and everyone is given the opportunity to ask questions.

After panel, we’ll ask for approval from our agency decision-maker.

We’ll look into matching you and a child as soon as your assessment is approved.

Little girls hugging her laughing mother. Her father is in the foreground smiling
Schedule your call

Are you ready to speak to someone to further explore your interest in becoming a foster carer?

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