Background Checks and References

Information about the various checks and references that will be needed for a foster carer application.

older foster carer with arms around teenager

Background Checks for Foster Carers

Once you commence your journey to foster, you will be asked as part of your assessment to go through a number of background checks so that Swiis can ensure you are able and appropriate to undertake the role of foster carer.

Local Authority (LA) Record Check

In order to request your local authority check, Swiis will contact the local authority you currently reside in and each local authority for all previous addresses for the last 10 years.

The information your local authority will provide to us will include any involvement in services for children or vulnerable adults over the last 10 years or from when you first had children.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Swiis foster care requires all prospective foster carers to undergo a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. In addition, all adults aged 18 plus, living in the household, will also require a DBS check to be undertaken. Due to the nature of fostering, Swiis requires the highest level of DBS check, the Enhanced DBS, which includes cautions, warnings, reprimands and spent or unspent convictions.

If there are any adults outside of your household who may have regular contact with the foster child (e.g. a parent or another member of your support network), an Enhanced DBS check may also be required.

Medical Assessment

Becoming a foster carer is considered a job, therefore, any prospective foster carer must be medically fit to work.

As part of your fostering application, you will need to undergo a medical assessment with your GP to check for any medical conditions that may impact your ability to care for children.

Your medical check will then also be sent to a medical advisor to sign off.

Pet Assessment

We will need to do a pet assessment if there are any pets within your household. Fostering a child with a pet can be rewarding and beneficial, however Swiis must ensure that the animal is safe and suitable for the foster child.

If you own a pet dog, we will need to check if their breed is banned under the Dangerous Dog Act, as owning a dangerous dog will prevent you from fostering.

Home Safety Assessment

We will need to ensure that your home is suitable and safe for a foster child by conducting a home check. This can include reviewing the home for safety, security, hazards and general maintenance.

Citizenship or Indefinite Leave

As part of your application, you will need to provide proof that you have either British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Foster Carer References

As part of your fostering application, you will need to provide personal references from people in your life such as your family, friends and ex-significant partners.

As a minimum, Swiis will request:


Swiis accepts references from your friends. It is important that your friends have known you (and your partner) for a significant period.


Swiis will need to contact your (and your partners) adult birth children as part of the assessment process.  Children and young people in your household may also be spoken to by the assessor.

Adult Children from a Previous Relationship

If you have children from a previous relationship, or where you have co-parented your ex-partners children, we may need to contact them.


Swiis will require references from your current employer and every employer in which you have worked with children or vulnerable adults.


We will require personal references from any previous significant partner (a relationship that lasted over two years, involved living together and/or having children or parenting together). If contacting a previous partner is not appropriate in your situation, the Swiis team can work with you to gain a reference from another person who knew you at the time.

Previous Fostering Agency

If you are transferring to Swiis from another fostering agency or local authority, we will need to contact them for a reference.  We will also need to contact any other Fostering Agency that you have made an enquiry with, regardless of whether or not your enquiry progressed.

Your Child’s School

If appropriate and depending upon the age of your child, we may need to contact your child’s school for their own reports.

Health Visitor

If you have any children who are under 5 years old, we may need to contact your Health Visitor for a reference.


If you rent your property, Swiis will require permission from your landlord for you to foster a child in your home.


If you have lived or worked overseas within the last 15 years, we may need to carry out an overseas check in the country you lived/worked in.

Armed Forces

If you were previously a member of the Army, Air Force or Navy, we will need to carry out a check.

FAQs Fostering Assessment Checks and References

Why Does Swiis Need to Complete Background Checks and References?

Background checks and references are essential to a foster carer’s application process. In order to safeguard any children or young people in their care, all fostering agencies are required to perform rigorous background checks on all applicants.

Will My Husband/Wife/Partner Need to be Checked too?

If you have a partner living within your household, they will need their own checks as part of your fostering application. All other adults in your household over the age of 18 (for example, your child), will require their own checks.

Who Carries Out the Fostering Assessment?

Your fostering assessment will be undertaken by an experienced Swiis independent qualified social worker, who will visit you and your family in your home for a number of planned meetings. The assessor will have considerable experience of undertaking fostering assessments and will help guide you through the process and will also be part of your interview process with the fostering panel.

How Long Does a Fostering Application Stage Take?

The gathering of references and various checks is usually the longest part of the fostering assessment process. From start to finish, the process usually takes around four months, however this will depend on how quickly the checks and references can be completed. For those with plenty of time to dedicate to their fostering application, Swiis Foster Care offers a ‘fast track’ service to progress prospective foster carers through their assessment in as little as two months.

Fostering With Swiis Foster Care

Swiis Foster Care is the largest, family-owned, fostering agency in the UK with offices across the South West, Midlands, North West, North East and through our sister company, Swiis Foster Care Scotland, across Scotland.

Can I Foster?

All foster carers need a minimum of a spare room within their home, be over 21 years old, be medically fit to work and have British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain.

If you are unsure if fostering is right for you, please contact a member of our team or take our short quiz to see if you can foster.

Have More Questions? Get In Contact With the Swiis Team

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