BECOMING A CARER
What’s it like going through a foster care assessment?
At a glance
- Tell us a bit about why you wanted to become a foster carer?
- And that’s how you found Lika?
- So how was the assessment process itself?
- How did you feel about the referencing and background checks?
- And how was the home visit (and the dive into your family tree)?
- Lika carers receive a lot of training. How did you find the skills training?
- What was the experience of the health checks like for you?
- As part of the assessment, the Lika team meets your support network. How did that go?
- Going to the assessment panel can seem daunting. How was it for you?
- What advice would you give to someone about to go through the assessment process?
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer with Lika or with any of London’s independent fostering agencies, you probably have a lot of questions about the assessment process.
If you’ve got questions about the process itself, we’ve got an article here, which we hope you’ll find really helpful, that explains the various stages of the assessment.
While that article walks you through the steps, we know you’ll have questions about what the experience is like for you, as the person applying to become a carer. So, we’ve sat down with Meredith, one of Lika’s newest carers, to find out what going through the foster care assessment process was like for her.
Before we dive in, it’s worth mentioning that if you’re looking for general information about the fostering assessment process for independent foster care agencies in London, this article will still be helpful, but Meredith’s experience is specific to Lika and our process. While all agencies will have a similar process, Lika is a systemic fostering agency and we take a therapeutic approach to every single thing we do, including the assessment process.
The guiding principle of systemic fostering is really the idea that understanding what influences the way a person acts and thinks, and responding with the right techniques, can be life-changing. As a Lika foster carer you receive extensive training and resources, tailored to your individual care situation to ensure fostering is a fulfilling experience for you, and a transformational one for the young person in your care.
With that caveat, let’s meet Meredith, who lives in London, and hear about her experience of the assessment process and becoming a Lika foster carer.
I was working in a women’s refuge, as a psychologist and therapist for women, and I found that a lot of the women in there had either been in care or had children in care, and they’d either had a terrible upbringing, or they had been abused as a child. I suddenly thought, ‘Do you know what? I’m working at the wrong end of the spectrum—because we need to be intervening at an earlier age, so that they don’t get to this stage’.
Then what happened was—and this is going to sound surreal—but I went to have some surgery and while I was under sedation I had this out-of-body experience, and this voice from somewhere said to me, ‘You need to be doing fostering’. When I woke up, the first thing I did was pick up the phone and google ‘fostering’.
Yes, Lika came up. I sent a message and Jamie called me back within about two hours. I also got a response from about three other foster agencies; they were all courting me. I had a first meeting with one of the social workers at another fostering agency and it felt like an interrogation and I thought, ‘you know what? No.’
Then I met Jamie; he actually came to my house. He was the only person who spoke to me in person and came to my house during lockdown. I just felt a connection with him— his body language, his demeanor, everything was right for me—and I thought ‘I’m going with this lot!’
I think because of Covid it probably wasn’t quite how it usually is, but the process I went through was good. I cannot fault the process. They’re very fair.
It was fine. I was very upfront with them. I told them, when I was a very young girl—I had my children young—I was in a very abusive relationship, and I had to leave my partner. And I had to literally nick some money out of his bank account to go. And I got a conditional discharge for that. I was very transparent. I’ve not done anything that I would not do again to save my children from the despair I felt at the time.
We sat down and we told (Jamie) what we’ve been through. I didn’t find it intrusive at all.
Covid meant we had to sit there with masks with these cubicles around us but, other than that, I found the course to be very informative. There were five other women on the course, and we all got on really well. We were all of a fairly similar mindset, mainly because we all have ethnic backgrounds.
That was fine. I’m 62, so I’m going to have a few health problems. But basically, I’m very fit. I exercise every day; I eat healthily.
It was fabulous. I can’t fault Lika. I’ve got my son and my daughter, my best friend, my Mum, and quite a few people in my support network. It’s good because, if I need them, they’re there.
Again, it wasn’t a face-to-face because of Covid, but I don’t think there was anything to be scared of. The guy who did it was really sweet. I think it would be easier if you were in a room with them because then you can see everyone and read their faces and body language and so on.
Everything you need to know, you are told during the process and prior to the panel. They tell you what to expect. And to be honest, if you weren’t going to make the cut as a carer, they’d let you know well in advance of the panel.
I’ve also got to say, I’ve had a very positive experience with Lika. The support has been great.
If you’re in south or east London and you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, give the helpful team at Lika a call on 020 8667 2111. We’re here to answer all your questions.
We’re in the London boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Bromley, Merton, Lambeth, Westminster, Wandsworth, Lewisham, Southwark, Islington, Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, City of London, Haringey, Newham, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea.