Are you interested in foster care but feeling intimidated at the thought of all the checks that need to be done? Don’t worry – Orchard Fostering have got you covered. Our foster care assessment process is designed to be supportive and inclusive – turning a potentially stressful event into a collaborative and open dialogue between you and Orchard Fostering.

In the interest of openness and collaboration, we’ve decided to break down the nuts and bolts of our assessment process – giving you a look under the hood at all the checks and balances involved in becoming a foster carer. Read on to find out what checks are done to be a foster carer – and how best to prepare for them.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page. 

The foster care phone enquiry

We’ve talked before about your personal journey toward foster care before – how you decided, how to know you’re ready, how to approach family members. But what happens after you’ve made your decision? What happens once you reach out to Orchard Fostering?

The first “check” you’ll encounter is the phone enquiry. Whether you call, email or fill in our website form, we will always endeavour to have a phone conversation with any potential carer. Over the phone, you’ll be asked a series of questions designed to assess your suitability for care. These questions are based around relationship status, family structure, fostering experience, your health and your history. We will also give you a bit of advice around the fostering process – timeframes, processes, availability. By the end of the conversation, you should have a much better idea about foster care and your own feelings toward it.

This call helps us to find out some basic information about you which will allow us to guide you on your eligibility to foster. This call also provides you with the opportunity to explore areas you would like more information on and to answer your questions.

The phone enquiry conversation is the first check on the long road of your fostering journey. Let’s look at what comes next.

The home visit and fostering assessments

Before you welcome a child into your home, you will meet with Orchard Fostering on a number of occasions to complete a fostering assessment. During the initial home visit, your assessment social worker (the person you will be working closest with throughout the assessment process) will ask questions about your family, your lifestyle and any childcare experience you may have. They aren’t just there to ask questions, however – they are also available to answer any and all queries you may have. Consider them your foster care guru.

Following the initial home visit, you assessment social worker will visit you a number of times throughout the assessment process. These visits – which are always pre-arragned with you – are designed to help your assessment social worker get to know you and your family as they assess your suitability for foster care.

What checks are done to be a foster carer?

There are four major checks required of a potential foster carer. Let’s take a look at each one:

  1. Health check: A medical examination will be completed by your GP during the foster care assessment process. This is to ensure that you are in good health and capable of caring for a child.
  2. Garda check: All adults involved in foster care (including children over sixteen) must complete Garda vetting.
  3. HSE/ Tusla/ social security checks: These bodies conduct their own checks of potential carers.
  4. Safety checks: A safety compliance check will be conducted on your home, ensuring that the space is safe for your child.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is “will my partner be checked?” These checks are designed to ensure the safety of the children in our care. For that reason, your partner and all children over the age of sixteen will be subject to these checks, too.

You are also required to provide references. At Orchard Fostering, we look for written and verbal references from three people who believe you are suitable for foster care. We also look for references from employers and ex-partners, where applicable.

The final checks

After you have completed all the home visits, various checks and preparation training, your application will go before the foster care committee. Each area’s committee is made up of different individuals and can include principal social workers, social work managers, foster carers, care leavers or other individuals. This is the final stage as the committee are the ones who have final say on your foster care suitability with regard to age ranges and the number of children you can foster at one time. They take into account your assessment social worker’s recommendations and make their decision.

Once you’ve gone through this process – which takes upwards of sixteen weeks – you’ll be all set to take the next step on your fostering journey.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page.