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The journey to becoming foster carers – Experience of the assessment process

Focus Foster Care is growing. We are regularly welcoming new foster carers to our team, and we hope to see even more carers join us in 2023. In December 2022, Ross and Sarah became our newest fostering family and we recently sat down together for a chat about their experience so far, as first-time foster carers. Sarah and Ross have two birth children, a girl and a boy, and are also fostering two siblings (another boy and girl). Sarah is a teaching assistant and Ross works on an ad hoc basis as a funeral director, he reduced his work hours so he could fully commit to fostering.

Sarah and Ross were extremely generous with their time and knowledge, and have shared everything they have been through, right from why they decided to foster up until having their first children placed with them in December. If you are thinking of starting a career in foster care and want to know more about becoming a foster carer, this new blog series is for you.

Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing blog posts about the assessment process for becoming a foster carer, the reality of life as a fostering family and what being part of the Focus Foster Team is really like.

In today’s instalment, Sarah and Ross are discussing their experience of the assessment process. If you are thinking about joining our independent fostering agency, this interview covers everything you need to know about getting started.

We hope you find this new blog series useful, and we are now handing you over to our newest foster carers. Take it away, Sarah and Ross…

Sarah and Ross – Our experience of the assessment process with Focus Foster Care

First contact

Ross: We first got in contact with Focus Foster Care in the late spring of 2022. We had been toying with the idea of fostering for a while. It sounds like we live in a castle, but we’ve got a five-bedroom house. We have two spare bedrooms and we had been talking about fostering since before we had our own children.

Sarah: My mum and dad had quite a few unofficial foster children live with us when I was younger. Then my mum’s best friend died, and her son came to live with us when he was 14. I’ve always been used to having people living with me when I was growing up.

We’ve always done quite a lot of work with children. Even when I was growing up, mum and dad were involved with a kid’s charity, which Ross has also helped with. My dad ran a youth club, and me and Ross were both junior leaders there. We’ve just been around and involved with children for a long time.

The idea of fostering first came in our heads when we struggled to conceive with our first. At that time there was a lot of media coverage on fostering and adoption, there had been a lot of programs out about it.

We first contacted a different agency, but they didn’t really fill us with any confidence. We asked loads of questions, and they couldn’t answer a lot of them. I then did a bit of research and found Focus Foster Care online. I just put foster agencies near me into Google and Focus was the most local to us.

Ross: We then found some reviews and feedback and they said Focus was really good. We contacted the agency and then I think Fiona got in touch, and it just went from there.

The funniest bit is she came out to see us at home, she gave us a bit of an overview of everything that goes on with fostering, and then after that meeting, she says, “right, what I’ll do now is I’ll just leave you to it and you have a think about it”. We both looked at each other and said we don’t want to think about it, we want to get started now!

The assessment process

Ross: I suppose people normally have a bit of a think about it, but we were so confident that we wanted to do it. There are children out there that need looking after and we’ve got two spare bedrooms and we can accommodate them.

There’s a lot of training and it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster as well. Both me and Sarah have lost quite a lot of family in the last few years, you have got to talk through all of that and it brings it all up again. It can be a bit emotional. I found it quite draining as well. You can end up talking about your whole life over a few hours and you do feel tired afterwards.

Sarah: Focus were amazing. They kind of become like extended family. Especially our social worker Fiona. A lot of stuff is very personal that you’re talking to them about. Fiona just made us feel so at ease to be able to tell her those things.

Some things were difficult to talk about but I never felt uncomfortable talking to her about it or worried. There’s always that worry of ‘if I share this, is it going to affect if I get registered or not’, but Fiona always made us feel reassured that there was nothing we could say that would mean we wouldn’t get registered. This helped us be honest with them and open up.

If we discussed anything that maybe I might feel a bit wobbly about afterwards, Fiona always messaged me and made sure that I was okay and that nothing we discussed earlier in the day triggered anything. We could just message anytime, not just that we could only speak to her when she was here.

We were worried it might be a bit too business-like and they will just want us quickly, because we know how desperate agencies are for foster carers. There was never that feeling, we never felt she was rushing us through or anything. She always had the time to discuss everything with us and always reassured us all the way through. We were told if at any point we changed our minds, that was absolutely fine.


Sarah and Ross were approved by our fostering panel in November last year and we are so happy to have them as part of our fostering team. Next week we will be sharing their experience as a first-time fostering family, and learning how the reality compares to their expectations.

If would like to find out more about fostering with Focus Foster Care, call 0800 524 4797 or email admin@focusfostercare.com .

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