foster care referrals

Referrals and matching

Our dedicated and experienced referrals team expertly match children with suitable foster families every single day.

Expertly matching children with foster parents

We receive thousands of referrals every month from local authorities looking for suitable foster homes for vulnerable children across the country.

Our dedicated referrals team expertly match these children with foster parents who have the skills and experience required to meet their needs and provide them with the best possible care. This ensures that every child receives a stable and nurturing home and that our foster families enjoy a positive and rewarding fostering experience.

Discover the steps we take to place a child in your care below. 

Getting to know our foster families

The key to successful matching in foster care is having a deep understanding of our foster families, including their family dynamic, skills, experience and preferences, and being able to have open and honest conversations about the referrals we receive. We start to build these strong relationships right from the moment you’re approved with ISP and maintain them throughout your fostering career.

As part of your onboarding experience, you’ll have an introductory meeting with our referrals team, your supervising social worker and your fostering advisor to discuss the types of children you could care for, including their background, behaviours and specialist needs. We’ll also capture any specific preferences – for example, age or gender – and whether you’d like to be contacted out-of-hours for emergency foster care placements.

Through regular contact and an excellent understanding of the type of child that would suit you and your family, we can instantly identify any potential matches and work swiftly with you, your social worker and the local authority to make the necessary arrangements.

how are children matched with foster families?

Your digital profile

Once approved, a digital profile will be created for you which includes lots of important information about you and your family - such as skills, experience, training and more – to show you off in the best possible light.

This is an important tool that we use to help local authorities understand your strengths and expertise when putting you forward for a potential child to care for.

Matching - what we're looking for

There are several things we look at when matching children and young people with foster families. We’ll start by checking the foster parent is available and has been approved for the placement type and age of the child. Next, we’ll look at the family’s matching preferences, such as gender, age and behaviours.

Once the initial checks are completed, we’ll look at other information on the referral, such as the child’s known history, any behaviours they may be exhibiting and any specialist care that the child may need. We’ll consider whether the child will fit in with the family dynamic – especially with other children in the home – and your skills, training and past experiences with other young people with similar needs to understand whether you may be suitable.

We speak to our foster families regularly and have an excellent understanding of the types of children who would be best suited to each of our families.

foster care referrals

Putting a family forward to the local authority

If we believe you’re a good match for a referral, we’ll give you a call to discuss in a little more detail and share the information via email too, so you can read through the information, ask any questions and take a little time to consider.

If you and your supervising social worker agree that it feels like a good fit, then we’ll put you forward to the local authority. A number of other foster carers from various independent fostering agencies may have also been put forward to care for the child and it’s up to the local authority to decide who they believe can best support the child.

Placing a child with a family

If the local authority would like to consider you as a suitable match, we’ll share various documentation, including your Form F assessment, for them to review. If they agree that you’re a suitable match, the child’s social worker will be introduced to your supervising social worker and begin to discuss the proposed placement plan, including the start of placement date, and any other details that arise.

Your supervising social worker will keep you informed of any progress and support you with any preparations for the arrival of the child.

foster care referrals

Your family book

Before you welcome a child into your home, we’ll help you prepare a family book that can be given to the child before they arrive. This should include lots of warm and welcoming photos of you and your family, your home – especially their bedroom - and any pets you have, plus some basic information, such as your hobbies and interests.

Family books are an important part of this process as it helps to put a child, who’s likely to be distressed, anxious and frightened, at ease.

Speak to our team today

Whether you're looking for more information or you're ready to apply, we're here to help you on your journey.

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