Application & assessment process
On receiving your enquiry....
1. Request Information
Next Step requests basic information about you within the application and we will forward our literature giving you more information on fostering.
2. Informal Chat
An initial discussion takes place in your own home.
3. Information Gathering Form
You complete an Information Gathering Form, this gives us detailed information about you and your family and your consent for us to complete necessary checks and enquiries to determine your suitability to foster.
4. Assessment Process
You are required to have a medical examination completed by your GP and the report is made available to the Next Step Agency Medical Adviser for his/her comments about your health.
You are also asked to identify three referees who will provide written references and be interviewed as part of the assessment process.
You undertake a three day preparation course called the "Skills to Foster" course. A qualified social worker carries out a full assessment. He/she visits your home, generally on 6-8 occasions, to meet and collect information about all members of your household and your experience and skills in relation to fostering. The information obtained forms the basis of an assessment report. Next Step uses the ‘Form F format’ – published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).
5. Approval/Appointment Process
The content of the Form F assessment report, excluding all references, will be shared with you and then presented to the Next Step Panel.
To assist in the decision-making process, applicants are expected to attend the Panel meeting.
The Panel makes recommendations about the suitability of applicants to be approved as foster carers with Next Step.
The ‘Decision Maker’ receives the recommendation of the Fostering Panel and, on behalf of the agency, makes the final decision about approval of the applicants.
Applicants are informed verbally and in writing about the decision and if you are approved to become a Foster Carer.
The assessment process takes four to six months on average and every effort is made to ensure there is no avoidable delay. All information obtained about prospective foster carers is held on file. On request some of this can be viewed. References from external agencies (Police, Social Services) and personal references, which are provided in confidence, cannot be accessed.