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DT’s journey to becoming a Foster Carer – The Matching Process

23rd August, 2021

This series of blogs written by DT, a newly approved foster carer, offers a first-hand account of becoming a foster carer, from making that initial enquiry,  right through to being approved and beyond. You can read DT’s previous blog here

A few weeks passed by and people kept asking me, “any news?”. I started to wonder if I would end up being the most trained foster carer who never had a child. A bit dramatic, I admit! but I was so eager to be able to start helping a child. I think my expectations were a bit wonky as I had read various blogs where people had found out about an imminent placement straight after panel. My matching was a bit more specific as I had a small holding and was slightly rural. In hindsight, when a referral did come through, I saw how well I was matched and that it was never going to be casting a big net approach.

And then I received a call. The phone rang at 2pm on a Friday and it was Kea from the placements team letting me know I was being sent a profile. I was told to read it carefully and to come back with any questions for the local authority. I stopped working, went to my email and there were 3 documents about a young lady, aged 13. There was so much information! I really had thought it would be less, but everything important was covered:

  • Her likes, hobbies etc
  • How she had come into care
  • Medical issues
  • Education
  • Behavioural issues
  • Her family background

There was also a personal profile written by the child, along with a photo. I decided not to read that part until I had read the others, as I wanted to be very sensible in my review of the paperwork rather than just looking at a child that needed a home.

I went through line by line and made notes and thought of questions to ask. I sent them back to Kea and waited to hear how I got on. The response to the questions came back within two hours and I was told I would find out within three days if the local authority wanted to take it further.

This was for a long-term placement. The child would be staying with a foster carer for at least 8 years, and of course you would never ask them to leave after that time if they wanted to stay.

I realised once more just how much my life would change if the local authority thought I was a good match.

All of my thoughts and training so far had been theoretical and here now was an actual child with specific needs. My mind raced that whole weekend as I just wanted to hear. I started to do my research on the local area looking at:

  • What schools she might attend and distances
  • Places to go that fell in line with her hobbies
  • How I could help her with certain behaviours

I wrote so many notes and I was really pleased with my research. I had read her profile lots of times so that I knew I was ready for what was to come the next week.

I got the good news that the local authority had asked for my Form F. They had liked my profile and wanted to know more about me. The Form F is the report created during assessment and it would follow me throughout my whole fostering journey. I had been really pleased with what had been written, but I now wondered how the local authority would view it. Thankfully, they liked what they read and a meeting was booked on Teams to chat with me. My supervising social worker would be there to support me, Kea from placements, a member of Capstone’s MATTs team and two people from the local authority. It felt like panel all over again but knowing that I had enjoyed panel, I thought that I would be okay.

The meeting started off a little bit shaky as my Teams invitation failed even though I had done a dry-run on Teams earlier. When I managed to join, I had kept 6 people waiting for 10 minutes which did not feel like a good start, but I shook that off and we had a meeting that lasted just over an hour. The local authority were great. They started off by telling me what they liked about my Form F and then asked me a series of questions. My research had paid off and they were very complementary. Capstone answered some specific questions as well and I felt well supported. I was one of three other foster carers being considered. I felt like I was a good match and I would be told the outcome in a few days.

Three days later, it was all over. I had made a great impression but as a new foster carer the local authority felt that it might be too much for me for my first placement and so that was that. I tried to think to myself that it was the child that mattered, not me, but in all honesty, I couldn’t help feeling gutted. I sat with a long gloomy face for a few days. My family I live with supported me and told me it would happen. They got me some flowers to cheer me up. I love flowers!

I found it hard to shred the paperwork about the young lady and delete the emails. I had got to know so much about her by reading her profile and she would never even know I existed and that I had wanted to provide her with a safe loving home.

The thing was that I knew now a certain email would go bold when a placement came through. I kept logging into my emails to check. Another two weeks went by where I passed the time with some more training. I did a webinar with Foster Talk and kept on writing my blog.

Then the phone rang, it was my supervising social worker talking to me about another referral. We discussed it and it was agreed that Sharron from placements would send the information over to me. The email folder went bold...

When I read the profile about a 14-year young lad I thought, “yes this is the one” as we had so much in common.

This time, I played it cool with my family, just in case me being a new foster carer was a factor again. Little did I know how this young man would become part of my life and what I would be doing in the coming weeks.

Watch this space as DT continues to blog about her journey beyond being approved, including getting a match. If you feel inspired to find out more about becoming a foster carer, don't hesitate to get in touch.

 

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