foster parent background check

Foster parent
background checks

What checks are completed for fostering?

As part of your fostering assessment, we'll complete a number of background checks and take up references. It’s no different to any career where children are involved, and it’s an important part of the safeguarding process.

Full Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

We'll complete a DBS on you and anyone who’s aged 18 or over and living in your home (16 and over for those living in Scotland). This looks at police and other records to highlight any cautions, criminal convictions or other information. If other people in your network are likely to have regular contact with the children in your care, we might also extend the DBS to them. We’ll also make additional checks if you’ve lived abroad for over 12 months in the last 10 years.

Local authority checks

This check shows us whether you’ve had any dealings with social services and usually goes back 10 years but could be more.


We want to get a good all-round picture of you as a person and so we take up a number of references from people who know or have known you in various capacities.

  • Family reference - we ask for just one family reference which could be a parent, sibling, aunt or uncle but can’t be one of your biological children.
  • Non-family members - we ask for two references from people who have known you for at least five years. These could be friends, work colleagues or neighbours for example. If you’re making a joint application, we’ll accept a joint reference, so long as the person has known you both for at least 5 years.
  • Employment & voluntary activity references - we’ll ask for a work reference, usually from your current employer - if you’re working – provided you’ve been there at least 5 years. If not, we will go back to previous employers too. And if you’ve ever worked with children or vulnerable adults before, in either a voluntary or professional capacity, we’ll ask for references here too.
  • Former partner references - this includes ‘significant former’ partners in relationships of at least 2 years, or where you've had children together. We understand that this isn’t always easy for a number of reasons, so we may consider a reference from someone who knew you during this relationship.

Medical assessment

We ask all potential foster parents to have a medical examination with their own GP, which will focus on any physical and mental health issues that could affect your ability to foster. We need to be confident that your own health and wellbeing, and that of children, will not be compromised. However, it's important to note that having a physical or mental health issue won't automatically rule you out of fostering, so long as you're still able to meet the demands of children in care.

Home safety checks

We’ll visit you to carry out a safety assessment of your home and outdoor spaces. This covers things like fire hazards, locks and security, as well as general maintenance and safety issues, such as the storage of medicines. These are all important to ensure the safety of the children in your care.

Pet assessment

We know that pets can be really helpful in fostering, giving children companionship and comfort as well as important life lessons. We just need to be sure they won’t pose a risk or threat.

Financial assessment

As a foster parent, we will hope to have children appropriately placed with you whenever you are available to care for a child or children. However, you may experience some periods without a child in your care and we need to work with you to be sure that you'll manage financially both when you have children in placement with you and at other times.

We don’t make payments when you don't have a child placed with you and so we need to talk to you about how you will manage these periods, such as other potential sources of income, and we'll also need to see some evidence of your incomings and outgoings too, usually through some recent bank statements.

You might be interested in...

How to become a foster parent

Application process

There are six steps to become a foster parent with Fosterplus, including an initial home visit, an application form, your fostering assessment and finally, panel.

Find out more
fostering assessment

Fostering assessment

The fostering assessment takes around 4-6 months and involves a series of social work visits, background checks and references, and some initial training too.

Find out more
skills to foster training

Skills to Foster training

During your assessment, you'll complete an initial training course, where you'll learn the basics on important topics and gain a real insight into the role.

Find out more

Speak to our team

Ready to take your first step into fostering? We're here to support you on your journey...

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