What is the procedure for approval as adopters and long-term foster carers?
Once you have contacted a social services department or voluntary agency, if they are interested in working with you, they will send you information about how they work. Many agencies hold information meeting where they will explain more about what is involved, or they may just arrange to see you individually.
Individual visits are with one or two social workers who will look at a number of areas, e.g. why you want to foster or adopt, your childhood experiences, your experience and views about caring for children, and what children would fit best in your family.
If you decide you want to proceed and the agency is prepared to assess you, there will then be a period of assessment, which usually takes about six months.
Most agencies will run preparation or assessment groups where a number of issues will be covered in more details, eg managing difficult behaviour, contact from birth families, and situations which lead to children needing permanent placements. Experienced carers or adopters will often be invited to share their experiences with you.
If you are a couple then you would be usually seen together and at least once individually to make sure you are both equally committed to fostering or adoption. If you have children they will also be seen separately. References will be taken from two or three personal referees, your doctor will be asked to report on your health and checks will be made with the police and your local social services department.
Once the assessment has been completed, a report is presented by your social worker to the adoption or fostering panel who will decide whether you are approved as an adopter or foster carer. Some agencies, such as Barnardo's, invite you to attend this panel, but this is not yet general practice.