I’m Kelly and I am one of the placements coordinators working across the Midlands region along with my colleague, Sunjay. I have worked in the fostering sector for four and a half years, previously with another independent fostering agency helping to recruit new foster carers and have now been with Capstone Foster Care for two years.
As a placements coordinator, it is our role to assess the referrals that are sent to us from the local authorities about children who need to placed with a foster carer. The referrals we receive are from around 21 local authorities across the East and West Midlands and we read through each individual referral to see if Capstone have any foster carers that can meet the needs of the child or children
Each day can be as varied as the next as you simply don’t know what type of referral you are going to receive – short term, long term or emergency care. On an average day, we can receive up to 30-40 referrals and this can range from solo placements, parent and child, emergency same day, planned placements and siblings, whether that’s for 2 siblings or for 6 children. There are a number of reasons why children are in care and this could be that they have been subject to abuse, neglect or there may be a change in family circumstances where their main care giver has fallen ill and there is no one else to provide the care they need.
When placing children with our families, there are many factors that need to be considered and this is when our careful matching process in consultation with our supervising social workers comes into play. When we start finding suitable families we have to take into consideration who is living in the household, the age that the carer is approved to look after, whether they are able to maintain school and contact, whether the child can be placed with pets or other children, the list goes on.
We then liaise with the local authorities to talk to them about carers – where they live and what skills they have in order to help support this placement and, to establish if our carers would be a suitable match. If our carers then wish to be considered, we send the local authority the details and a profile of the carer/s outlining their skills and what they can provide for the child/ren. The decision is then taken by the social worker of the looked after child to decide which carer/s are best suited to support the child/ren.
Sometimes, we find that the same referrals are being sent to us more than once. This could potentially mean that there are no carers to meet the needs of that child whether it is because their needs are too high, the carer has other children in the household that are unable to be placed alongside them, it’s a large sibling group that need to stay together or there simply just aren’t enough carers in the location required.
The most satisfying part of our job is when I get to hear stories from our carers about how the children are getting on in placement. This could be having their first haircut, learning a new skill or joining a new club to make new friends, having 100% attendance at school, or just generally being happy and enjoying time with their carers. It’s the little things like this that contribute towards a positive experience whilst being in care.
As the number of looked after children is on the increase, the number of carers being recruited isn’t. I would to encourage anyone who has thought about fostering or has any questions about fostering to pick up the phone and have a chat with Capstone. I’m proud to be part of a hard-working team that are all working together to help change the lives of our children and young people.