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The process

  • two children holding hands

Fostering is a way of providing a family life to a child unable to live at home and can be as short as a day or extend to several years. The first port of call for children who need fostering in Merton is Merton Fostering. Only children that we cannot find homes for with our own carers are placed via other fostering agencies. Our foster carers therefore are given priority and are always approached first for Merton children who need to be fostered.

Children need foster care for lots of different reasons. Their parents may be ill, in prison, or having relationship problems. Some children will have been neglected or abused.

1. Initial phone call

1. Initial phone call

Our initial discussion with you will take place with one of our experienced team members on the telephone. We will assess whether you meet our basic criteria, such as having sufficient space and time. It is our chance to begin to get to know you and your chance to ask questions.

2. Initial home visit

2. Initial home visit

We will arrange for an initial visit to your home so we can get to know you a bit better and assess your living space to see if you have room to foster a child. We will talk to you about your experience, skills and your reasons for wanting to become a foster carer.

3. Application and checks

3. Application and checks

Once we receive your application form we will take up some checks and references. You will be asked to have a medical examination completed by your GP and we will need 4-6 references, which may include family and employer. We will also arrange for a Police check (DBS).

4. Preparation training

4. Preparation training

You will need to attend a training course to help prepare you for fostering. You will learn more about the responsibilities and rewards of fostering from our specialist trainers and existing foster carers. This is a ‘2-way’ training course where you will get to know us better and vice versa.

5. Assessment and home visits

5. Assessment and home visits

A specialist fostering social worker will visit you and your family regularly over a period of three months in order to complete your assessment report and make sure you are prepared to become a foster carer. With your help, the social worker will write a report detailing your relevant experience and skills.

6. Panel

6. Panel

Your assessment report will be sent to the Fostering Panel and you will be asked to attend a meeting with the Panel along with your dedicated social worker. The Fostering Panel is an independent group of people who will recommend whether to approve you as a foster carer.

7. On-going support

7. On-going support

At Merton we are committed to offering the highest possible level of support to all our foster carers, including 24 hr/365 day support from specialist social workers and frequent structured supervision from your own social worker. You will also have regular training, peer support groups and an experienced buddy to help you through the early stages of fostering.