Checks and references

During an application to foster, there are a number of statutory checks and references that we carry out.

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As part of your assessment, we take up a number of references and carry out several background checks. All fostering organisations are required to do this by law as part of their regulatory statutory requirements. 

We’re very open about what we’re doing and why, so here’s a brief introduction.

Full Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

This will identify any cautions and convictions or other relevant information held on police records. We’ll carry out a DBS check on anyone aged over 18 in your home and may extend it to other people in your circle, especially if they will have regular contact with foster children. We may make further checks if you’ve lived away from the UK for extended periods (12+ months) over the last 10 years.

Checks with local authorities

We check to see whether you have had any contact with social services in the UK. This usually goes back just 10 years but might be longer.

Medical assessment

We’ll ask you to have a medical examination with your own GP. This will highlight any physical or mental health issues which could affect your ability to foster. However, it’s important to point out that neither are necessary an obstacle to becoming a foster parent. Find out more here.

Home safety checks, including pets

We’ll carry out an inspection of your home and garden covering topics such as security, fire safety, the storage of medicines and pets.

Financial assessment

You don’t need to be wealthy, or even to own your own home. We just need to know that you’ll be able to cover costs between fostering placements as we don’t pay allowances at these times. Financial assessment includes a full credit check.


We’ll follow up with a variety of references.

  • Non-family members – two people who have known you for over five years, including neighbours or work colleagues. (We’ll accept a joint reference for joint applications, provided they’ve known you both for five years or more).
  • One family reference. This can be a parent or sibling, but not one of your own biological children.
  • Former partners. Anyone you’ve had a relationship with for two or more years. Where this isn’t in your best interests we’ll accept a reference from a person who knew you both during this time.
  • Employment & voluntary activity references. This includes your current and previous employers (depending on your length of service). If you’ve ever worked with children – even voluntarily we’ll ask for a reference from every position you’ve held.
  • Depending on your situation and background, we may also seek references from colleges, the armed forces and landlords, as well as your previous fostering organisation if you’re transferring to us.

Fostering Assessment & training

Find out what is involved in the Form F Assessment and the pre-approval training.

Read More

Fostering Panel

At ACS we offer a wide range of placement types to meet the needs of the children we care for.

Read More

Ildiko's Story

“ACS is great to work with. They treat us like equals and there are no worries about calling them.”

Ildiko, ACS foster parents

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Frequently asked questions

What do I need to become a foster parent?

You’ll need to be able to offer the young person or persons in your care the security and continuity they need – as well as supporting their specific religious and cultural needs. You’ll need to provide with them a stable, nurturing family home. You don’t need any qualifications necessarily, but some experience in looking after children –your own children, within your extended family, or in a childcare setting. Perhaps you were brought up in care yourself and understand what it is like. Just ask one our friendly team members if you’re not sure, they are always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Fostering isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding. And with our 24/7 package of training and support, we’re here for you every step of the way.

Does it cost me money to apply?

Usually not. We cover the cost of your checks, medical and training. The only check we ask applicants to cover themselves is a police check if they have lived in another country outside of the UK as an adult. Every applicant will have a health and safety check undertaken on their home, if anything needs to be changed you will be responsible for this. For example, if you have a garden pond, you will need to purchase safety netting for it.

If I’m going to be the main foster parent, do you need to carry out checks on my partner as well?

Yes. If you are a couple applying to foster, you both must complete the application form, undertake all the checks and the assessment will involve you both equally.

Think you'd make a great foster parent?

Whether you’re ready to start your journey or just want to chat to an expert, we're here to talk.

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