Freephone 0800 234 6282

Everything you need to know about Fostering Panel

It takes six months to become a foster carer, with the last stage in the application process being attending our Fostering Panel. But who is part of the panel and what happens when you get there?

Fostering panel managerDebbie, the Fostering Panel Manager for St Christopher’s, explains everything you need to know.

When do I go to panel meetings?

Your first panel meeting will be the one where you are recommended for approval as a foster carer for St Christopher’s. You might be a new carer or transferring from another fostering agency or local authority.

After this, you go to panel meetings every few years throughout your fostering career.

What will the panel ask me?

The panel’s aim is to make sure that St Christopher’s has been fair, sensitive and transparent during your fostering application and assessment. They are not there to grill you or make you feel nervous or worried, and they are always very friendly! Consequently, the questions will be about expanding on or clarifying information you have already provided.

Who is on the panel?

There are usually five panel members at each meeting with a variety of expertise in childcare, education and health. It’s important for us to have care-experienced panel members too, as they provide valuable insights into what makes a great foster carer.

Our Eastern Region Panel currently has two social workers, one foster carer and one member who has been a magistrate.

Our West Midlands Panel, which meets more often as it is a larger fostering service, has a health and medical member, an education expert, two foster carers and three social workers.

Do I have to go in-person?

Panel Meetings are being held virtually during the pandemic but it is hoped that we will return to some face-to-face panels once it is safe to do so. These will take place at the local office in your region. Whether you attend panel virtually or face-to-face, your assessor or supervising social worker will always be there to support you.

How long do panel meetings take?

You will only need to attend the meeting for around 30 minutes, just so the panel have enough time to get to know you and the reasons why you want to foster.

Does anyone else come to panel meetings?

There might be observers from the Placements team, who help to match children and foster carers, and sometimes a representative from St Christopher’s Trustees will attend.

Do you have questions about fostering? We are always happy to help – just get in touch with us through our fostering enquiry form or by calling us on 0800 234 6282.