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DT’s journey to becoming a Foster Carer – Step 6, The Assessment Part 2

23rd July, 2021

Are you interested in becoming an approved foster carer? This series of blogs written by DT, a newly approved foster carer, offers a first-hand account from making that initial decision, right through to attending panel and getting approved. Read DT’s previous blog here

The assessment continued throughout December 2020 with fortnightly meetings and regular email correspondence. The sort of things we covered were:

  • How I could use my childcare experience in various scenarios.
  • How contact with birth parents took place and how that might impact on a child.
  • The impact of fostering on my wider family and completing the safer caring form. This felt like a mini contract about the way I would agree to look after a child on a day-to-day basis.
  • My support network – who I could rely on in my wider circle for support.

My assessing social worker was also busy gathering references, not only of the people I live with, but also three other family members. These took around an hour each. My family had felt nervous to begin with but found my assessing social worker made them feel at ease straight away.

They were asked questions about: -

  • Their experiences with me doing childcare.
  • How they would support me.
  • What they understood about fostering.
  • What qualities I might have as a foster carer.

The home visit had been booked but three days before the visit, lockdown was announced, and so this had to be cancelled. We used those extra months wisely though with regular online meetings. I got the benefit of learning more from my assessing social worker, who gave the real essence of what fostering was like and I had the time to really take in what a change this would be to my life. I began to live my life as if I were already fostering with my timetable and hours that I worked.

In January 2021, I completed another pre-approval course. This was a two-day therapeutic training session which was run by Justine from the MATTS team. This course was excellent and I was also joined by some approved foster carers, their supervising social worker and another prospective foster carer. It was very informative and challenging. I felt my understanding took a huge leap forward on how previous trauma affected behaviour traits and development stages, focusing on some different ways to help a child.

The openness was lovely, and I thought Justine had the most wonderful calming voice. No wonder she was a psychotherapist.

I did also see the close relationship with the foster carers and their supervising social worker which reassured me that after the assessment, I would continue to be well supported.

In early March 2021, lockdown was over and the home visit was back on. I had completed my list of jobs during the worst of the weather with my family’s help. The hard work had paid off and my house and pets were assessed as suitable for fostering. This was a lovely day, finally being able to meet my assessing social worker in person after five months.

My DBS enhanced check came back and as I had been up front at the beginning of my application, this did not cause any problems for me. I had my medical and I was classed as “fit to foster”. I had lost 40lbs by then! I still needed to lose more but I was really proud of my achievement.

Then it was the end of the assessment and time for Karen to write up my dreaded Form F. I say dreaded as I knew that this form would be put before panel, then the agency decision maker and afterwards viewed by many people when deciding my suitability to foster a particular child.

On the 15th March 2021 at 15:55 the Form F draft hit my inbox. All 80 pages of it. I read it and I cried as it was so immense and overwhelming. I saw such positivity.

Every page was about my experiences, my thoughts and the way I would look after a child.

I cannot imagine how many notebooks my assessing social worker filled in taking these notes. I know why I cried; because at that one single moment, I knew my life was going to change forever. Everyone reading my Form F would not see the person who had made some mistakes in their early life, but instead someone who really wanted to give her all to looking after a foster child. I was given the opportunity to comment on the report. All I needed to focus on now, was getting through panel on the 28th April 2021.

You can find DT's next fantastic blog about attending panel here. If you feel inspired to find out more about becoming a foster carer, don't hesitate to get in touch.

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