Making the decision to enter the fostering assessment process can be a daunting one, filled with seemingly unanswerable questions. Who can become a foster parent? What is the criteria for a foster care enquiry? How long should a fostering assessment take?

At Orchard Fostering, we believe in making things as clear as possible for our potential foster carers. To make the fostering assessment process more transparent – and to ease any worries you might have about starting your fostering journey – we interviewed Caroline, a recently approved carer, about her journey to becoming an Orchard Fostering carer.

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

It was always something I was interested in doing, but never gave it much thought while I was rearing my own children.

When I suggested it to my husband eighteen months ago, I never thought he would be open to doing it. We had a small discussion about what we thought the criteria were and we thought we wouldn’t qualify because we didn’t own our own house. Then we talked about how the dynamics could change – our life, our family and household as a whole.

So we decided that we were young enough to give back a little love, care and stability to a child. 

How did you contact the Orchard Fostering team for the enquiry? Via social media, email or by phone call?

Orchard was the agency that kept popping up in our searches when looking into foster care.

I emailed Orchard and left my number – I also looked into the Facebook page to see about the agency and googled them just to see if I could get a feel as to what they were about. The enquiry itself was straightforward.

How helpful and supportive were the team on making the decision?

Orchard messaged me back within a day or so and arranged a phone call – just so they could introduce themselves. The phone call was about an hour – Ann Marie was lovely and warm, asked basic questions to see if we would be suited to the process.

Walk us through the initial visit with Orchard Fostering and meeting the social worker.

The initial visit was done though video link because of COVID. We were a little nervous but Geraldine put our minds to rest very fast and really just asked all the questions she needed to gather information to see if our house was suited and get to know us as a family. 

How did you approach the topic of foster care with family or friends? 

It was only after that initial visit that we talked to our children about fostering. All our children seemed happy about it and they were so willing to go along with us on this journey together – which we were delighted about, as we had talked about it and said if one wasn’t happy about it we wouldn’t go any further as we needed it to be a family decision.

We only told the rest of our family and friends after we were approved to go further with the process. Most of our family and friends were delighted for us and thought we would be great foster parents. Some thought we were crazy, as they said would you not just live and enjoy the rest of your life as your kids are just grown up now.

How long did it take to be assessed and approved?

The process took about nine months. A few hiccups along the way, a change of assessing social worker halfway through, but it didn’t hamper the process – it just added a few weeks.

Can you tell us about the assessment process? What is it like to be assessed as a foster carer?

The process was tough, we had to open up about our lives which can be difficult. It was very thorough, to be fair. Also the training was eye opening and informative.

What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about making that initial contact?

To anyone thinking about fostering, definitely get in contact with Orchard Fostering. They are friendly and approachable and Orchard support you every step along the way.

If you’re interested in learning more about the assessment and approvals process for foster carers, or are looking to make that first contact, 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.

If you’re wondering about the costs or fostering payments for foster care we suggest to take a look on our financial support page for more information. 

We encourage everyone to foster regardless of being single, same-sex, race and culture and there are no age limits. Apply today!