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How to become a foster carer

Information on applying to become a foster carer.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a foster carer with West Lothian Council. We're here to help you understand what it means to be a foster carer, and what to expect. After viewing the information below, if you have any questions or you're ready to begin your journey, we're here to help you.


The process to become a foster carer usually takes around 6 to 9 months. We're here to help you through every step of the process.


1. Contact us

Call or register your interest online and a friendly member of our team will contact you to talk about whether foster caring is right for you.

2. Initial Visit 

The initial visit is a meeting in your home by a member of our team.  The purpose is to give you an opportunity to have an informal face to face discussion with a social worker about the role of fostering and what it involves. We want you to have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have. Our intention is to leave you with an understanding of what fostering is all about so that you can make an informed decision about whether proceeding to foster is right of you and your family.

3. Preparation Group

If after the initial visit you decide that fostering is right for you and your family, you will be invited to attend preparation training sessions to ensure you are thoroughly prepared for fostering.

These sessions cover the following topics:

  • What do Foster Carers do?
  • Who are the Children and Young People?
  • Working together
  • Safer Caring 
  • Understanding Behavior
  • Moving on

Following your preparation group you should wish to continue your fostering journey, you will be given an application form to complete.

4. Assessment

We use the CoramBAAF Form F model to undertake our assessments and a social worker will be assigned to you to complete this piece of work. Your social worker will visit your home around 8 to 10 times and will look at your relevant skills, knowledge and experiences.  We call these competencies.  We assess your competencies by gathering information about you from a wide range of sources (checks and references) and from the evidence you give yourself about your skills and experiences.

The checks include:

  • Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) police disclosure check 
  • Full medical 
  • Local authority checks 
  • Personal references 
  • Employment history 
  • Employment reference 
  • Previous partners and older and adult children

Your social worker writes a report outlining your skills, training needs and areas of vulnerability. You will contribute to this report. A recommendation is made about what kind of fostering you should be approved for and the age and number of children you could care for.

5. Fostering Panel 

Once all the information has been gathered, the assessment report is submitted to the West Lothian Fostering Panel make a recommendation in relation to your suitability as a foster carer. You are asked to attend the panel along with your social worker. The Panel will then make a recommendation to our Agency Decision Maker. The Decision Maker will then make the final decision on your application based on all of the information provided to them.

If approved, you will be asked to sign formal documentation, agreeing to abide by our policies, procedures and guidelines. You will be assigned a Supervising Social Worker who is likely to be the person that undertook your assessment. Your social worker will help match a child or young person with your family and the type of care you can provide. The Social Worker will meet with you regularly and you will continue to receive support and training to help you with your role.

Not everyone is approved to be a carer, sometimes it isn't the right time or circumstances but you may be eligible in the future and you can always choose to appeal the decision.