Everything You Need to Know When Undergoing a Fostering Assessment

How long does the fostering assessment take? Your suitability will be assessed through background checks, including criminal record checks and personal references from people who know you well.

This helps to provide a complete picture of your life and of you as a person. This is a legal requirement.

Becoming a foster carer is a deeply rewarding and life-changing commitment that offers you the opportunity to provide a stable, loving home to a child in need.

However, to ensure that you are suitable for the complexities of the role, you must receive official approval from a fostering service. This process begins with a comprehensive fostering assessment, often known as the Form F assessment. 

It’s important to understand the steps involved, the preparation needed, and the support available along the way. 

At FosterTalk, we’re here to guide and assist you through this process, ensuring that you are well-prepared and informed every step of the way. 

In this blog, we’ll explore each stage of the fostering assessment and what you can expect in terms of support.


What is the fostering assessment?

The fostering assessment is a detailed analysis of your suitability to become a foster carer, looking at your life, experiences, family, work, health and finances.

Don’t worry – it’s a non-judgemental process; the goal isn’t to find “perfect” foster carers. Carers come from all walks of life – there is no one correct answer; we all have unique skills and perspectives that might make for a good carer. The goal of the fostering assessment is to make sure you’re right for the task, and that you’ve chosen the right fostering service.

It’s designed to ensure that prospective carers can provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for children in need. The assessment involves various stages:

Initial inquiry

The journey starts with expressing your interest in fostering. This may involve an informal chat to discuss your motivations and expectations.

Following this, you’ll be asked to fill out a formal application.


As you might expect, the fostering assessment is quite a detailed report and takes some time to complete.

Throughout the assessment process, you will be assigned a dedicated social worker who will help you to prepare – they will support you in articulating why you want to foster children and why you’d make a fantastic foster parent. Your social worker may be independent, or may work for the service that you’ll be fostering through. 

You may also undergo some specific training that is designed to help you understand what fostering entails. This stage is crucial for preparing you for the unique joys and challenges of fostering.


The assessment itself involves a series of interviews, tasks, case studies, research and more.

Your social worker will be there to support you through the process. They will take the time to get to know you really well and will form a strong professional relationship with you. 

There is no set list of questions that you need to answer during your fostering assessment; they will be tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. 

Generally, your assessment will explore your:

  • Childhood
  • Relationships (past and present)
  • Working history
  • Relationships with your birth children (if you have any)
  • Mental health history
  • Physical health history
  • Finances
  • Support networks
  • Family and friends (anyone involved in your day-to-day life)
  • The safety of your home (pets included)
  • Reasons for fostering
  • Ability to be available for the child

The assessment is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and seek clarity on any concerns you may have.


Reference and checks

Your suitability will be assessed through background checks, including criminal record checks and personal references from people who know you well.

This helps to provide a complete picture of your life and of you as a person. This is a legal requirement.

Panel and decision

Once your application has been submitted, it will be put to a panel of independent people.

While the word ‘panel’ may seem a little daunting, many people report after the fact that it was much less intimidating than they expected!

Panel members want you to succeed – they will be friendly and welcoming, and they’ll be aware that you might be a little anxious. It’s their job to put you at ease and help you to put your best foot forward.

The fostering panel will consist of a “central list” of panel members who reflect the local community. It will also feature a range of professional, stakeholders and other service users who have experience in fostering, or who have been fostered themselves.

How long does the fostering assessment take?

It’s important to be aware that the assessment process can be lengthy. From the initial inquiry to the approval stage, it can take several months (4-6 on average). 

While you may be keen to get stuck right in, it’s important to remember that fostering a child is a significant undertaking; there are various legal boxes that need ticking and the process needs to be rigorous to protect both yourself and the child. 

In England and Wales there is a 2-stage process. Ask your service if they will be running these consecutively or concurrently (which may expedite the time).


How FosterTalk support you

At FosterTalk, we understand the importance of support throughout your fostering journey. That’s why we offer a pre-approval membership, designed to support prospective foster carers like yourself through the approval process.

Here’s how we assist prospective foster carers:

Guidance and information

We provide comprehensive information about the fostering assessment process, including what to expect at each stage, ensuring that there are no surprises along the way.

Training and resources

FosterTalk offer training sessions and resources to help you prepare for fostering and develop essential skills.

We also provide a wide variety of resources, and will provide advice and support throughout the assessment and training process.

24/7 helplines

Our helpline is available round-the-clock to provide advice, support, and answers to any questions you may have.

We are always here when you need us.

Peer support

Connect with other foster carers through our network, allowing you to share experiences and seek guidance from those who have been through the process.


Make a difference with FosterTalk

Completing a fostering assessment is a significant step towards making a difference in a child’s life. By understanding the process, preparing thoroughly, and accessing pre-approval support through FosterTalk, you can give a vulnerable child a safe space to heal and grow. 

If you’re considering fostering, get in touch with our team to begin your journey today. Together, we can make a positive impact on young lives.





    Sharing options