Fostering - what happens next?

Supporting you to become a foster parent.

Step 1: contact us

Once you have decided you want to become a foster carer, the first step is to tell us. You can complete the form below, phone us or even reach out on our Facebook page.

Express your interest in fostering

Step 2: have a chat with us

We will arrange to phone you at a time that suits. We’ll take some details and have a chat about your initial thoughts. Then, if you feel ready to continue, we’ll talk you through the next steps.

Step 3: first home visit

One of our recruitment team will visit you at home. You can tell us about your life experiences and your expectations. We can discuss whether this is the right time for you to foster.

Step 4: application form

Your next step is to complete an application form. We’ll assign a social worker to do your assessment.

We will carry out checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), probation department, NSPCC, and local authority.

A medical will be organised with your general practitioner. We will take six written references from people who know you well, including family members. Your social worker will visit three of these personal referees during the process.

Step 5: assessment

Your assessment can take between 4 and 6 months. During this time, your social worker will visit you regularly. They will get to know you and your family. This will help us to choose the type of fostering that will fit in best with your family.

During your assessment, we may also take up a housing reference, a reference from an employer, and contact former long-term partners or children.

Step 6: developing your skills to foster

While the assessment is happening, you'll be required to attend either a two-day or four-evening workshop.
The workshops are fun, informative, and will begin to prepare you for fostering. You'll be able to meet other prospective foster carers and existing carers to hear their views and experiences.

Following the workshop, we'll ask you to reflect on what you learned and if fostering is right for you. 

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    Following the workshop, we'll ask you to reflect on what you learned and if fostering is right for you. 

We commit to delivering specific services to support children who need foster care and those who provide that care. Read more about it in the document below.

Step 7: recommendation report

Your social worker will write a report at the end of the assessment. The report recommends you as a foster carer to the fostering panel.

Step 8: fostering panel and approval

The panel is a group of educational and care professionals who will approve you as a foster carer.

The panel members include:

  • the independent chair
  • a panel adviser
  • representatives from the children's services
  • an elected councillor
  • independent members with experience of fostering or working with children.

You can attend the panel with your social worker and another person if you want.

Step 9: your first placement

That’s it. You’re ready for your first placement. Your social worker will continue to support you while they match you with a child.

Once you have been approved as a short term or long term carer and have a child living in your home, those who are eligible will receive a £1,500 welcome payment.

Welcome payment terms and conditions

  • For applications from new mainstream carers received after 3/11/2021 for short- and long-term care only. This offer excludes kinship, emergency, relief or short-break care.
  • One-off payment of £1,500 will be paid once carers are approved and have taken their first short or long-term placement.
  • When approved for short-term and relief, if the carer's first placement is for relief care only, they will not receive the payment until their first short-term placement.
  • There is no minimum timescale for this payment to be applied so long as the conditions above are met.
  • This payment is currently not open to existing carers.
  • This offer will be kept under review.

Step 10: receiving your allowance

When you have a child living with you, you’ll be eligible to receive foster carers' allowances, expenses and, in some cases, payments for additional skills. 

Our allowances and payment booklet (pdf format, 980KB) gives more information.

How much you'll get paid

Age of child Weekly allowance for 2021 to March 2022 per child
0 to 4 £160
5 to 10 £171
11 to 15 £212
16 to 18 £259

Payment for skills

Foster carers with additional skills and competencies receive extra payment. The payment is based on their experience and training. The scheme operates on four payment bands:

skill level Additional payment per week
Level 1 None. Receive the normal weekly allowance only.
Level 2 £152
Level 3 £202 for a child 0-10
£222 for a child 11-18
Level 4 £365 for a child from 3-11  

Skill levels

  • Level 2: carers have completed a number of training courses.
  • Level 3: caring for children with complex needs.
  • Level 4: caring for children with complex needs who are part of the Oxfordshire Treatment Foster Care scheme and is offered for children from age 3 to 11 only. Learn more about specialist fostering.