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DT’s journey to becoming a Foster Carer – Step 7, The Panel

30th July, 2021

For anyone looking to become a foster carer, the panel is probably the step people worry about the most! This series of blogs written by DT, a newly approved foster carer, offers a first-hand account of attending panel and we think you'll agree, we feel like we're sat there right with her. You can read DT’s previous blog here

During the next two weeks I signed off the Form F which was then sent to the panel members two weeks prior to my panel date, where I would me with a panel to discuss my suitability to become a foster carer.

On the 20th April 2021, I received an email containing two information documents letting me know what panel would be like.

  • A bio of all panel members including a picture of them. There was a person who was called the panel chair who ran the meeting along with social workers, health workers and previous carers. There were also two people from Capstone Foster Care, the panel coordinator, who would be taking notes and writing up the minutes, and the assurance manager who was there to advise panel if there were any legal questions that needed to be answered or what recommendations Capstone Foster Care were making about me.
  • A very informative 7-page document that talked about what would happen on the actual day of panel.

For the next 8 days, all I could think about was the panel and what they would ask me!

It was just nerves, as becoming a foster carer meant so much to me, but it felt really daunting to have to chat to these complete strangers.

On the Sunday before panel, my assessing social worker talked to me about the day which made me feel much calmer.

I worked out my routine for panel day to help.

  • I would have a good night’s sleep.
  • Read one of my fostering books in the morning.
  • Walk around my house grounds with my nephew.
  • Shower, change and then have 20 minutes to collect my thoughts.

But on the day, panel had different ideas. I got a call from the panel coordinator asking, “could you attend 90 minutes earlier than scheduled?”, I had no time for a shower, I had to quickly throw my clothes on and then get to my screen ready for the most important meeting of my life.
My assessing social worker sent me a text saying it will be all fine. I replied that I was calm and then panel started.

The chair thanked us for coming sooner and said that it did not often happen that they were early. We were all asked to introduce ourselves and I was given an overview of how panel would work. The panel chair said that they had identified certain qualities from my Form F and indicated some of the questions they were going to ask me. It felt like this was a good start!

I was asked the standard “how I found the assessment”, and I launched into a 2-minute answer, which then was followed up by another question. Then my assessing social worker was asked her impression of me. She used the word “amazing”, and I grinned like a Cheshire cat.

There were more questions put to my assessing social worker and then back to me again. It is hard to convey how you feel whilst it is going on. I was nervous, but I laughed a few times and something I had not expected, was the warmth from the panel members and the huge sense that we were all there for the sake of the future children that I might foster. I knew my answers were from my heart, so it seemed easy to respond as I believed in what I was saying.

Both my social worker and I had a chance to say some final words and then the panel chair asked the panel if they were ready to decide. One by one they each said “yes” and why.

My heart was racing. The realisation that I had got through panel was one of the best feelings in my life.

It was a unanimous decision to recommend me to the agency’s decision maker that I be approved as a foster carer. I would be told by the agency decision maker in 2 weeks’ time if I had their approval too. I ended my zoom call, spun my chair around and then thought how exciting! My social worker called me straight away and we chatted about how it went. She had supported me from the very first day and this would now be my last day with her. I was sad that our time together was over. It’s impossible to talk about very personal things with someone and to not then feel close to them. I understood that fostering is about saying lots of goodbyes, and this was my first test of doing that.

When the call ended, I told my family the great news. In the evening, we all had a lovely Chinese together to celebrate. My diet was put on hold for that night.

Now for the wait for 2 weeks to see if I would receive the final approval from the agency to become a foster carer.

You can read DT's next blog about the final decision 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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