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.
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.
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.
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.
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