Wednesday, 30 January 2013

So you want to be a foster carer?

If you answered yes then maybe this will help prepare you for your own application process, if you're are already fostering, maybe your experience has been different - your comments would be most welcome and could really benefit other readers. If you're just curious, I hope this doesn't put you off!

So our journey started in summer time, 2012. After making initial contact with a fostering agency, a member of the team came to visit us and go through all the details of what it is to be a foster carer, the process of application and to discuss whether it was right for us. Our visit was in the evening, timed after the kids' bedtime, so that both my husband and I could concentrate and be involved in the conversation. Typically, for the first time in months, none of them wanted to settle, so we were even more distracted by the noises coming over the monitor! In the end they joined us and the social worker got to meet the whole family - even then the kids wanted to make sure they were involved!

After this initial visit came some decision making. For us it was whether we wanted to do this now? For the agency it was whether we were worth taking on? Fortunately we all answered 'yes' and so the application process began!

We met our assigned social worker in September. Her first visit was to quiz us and get an idea of what our motivation to be foster carers was. I had worked with looked after children for years and knew a lot about fostering,  so she wanted to make sure this was a joint venture and not just what I wanted. It was really great to hear my husband explain to a third person his reasons for wanting to foster. I knew it and had hear it all before, but to be reminded again was lovely. It is so important to make sure that such a life changing experience, like fostering, is embraced fully by both of you; fostering can be stressful and is really hard work, you need to fully rely on each other to be able to do it properly, and to keep going. It can put a strain on the strongest of relationships, made only worse if one person is not as happy about doing it in the first place.

After that first visit we were left with a big pile of forms to complete - BAAF application forms, CRB forms, references forms, house/garden risk assessments - and a document listing all the areas that would be covered in the next few meetings. We were to complete as much as possible before seeing her next, where she was going to interview us individually. We had plenty of homework to do, and enough time to get ourselves really nervous about the interrogations!

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