Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fostering 'P' ..... A - Z Blog Challenge




As Jeff and I have been foster carers for 3 years this month it seemed the right time to have Fostering as a topic for the A-Z. We're still new enough that we're not jaded yet, but have had a pretty bumpy ride, so fairly realistic in what fostering is really about.

Further information at The Fostering Network



P IS FOR:
Panel approval - Once you have completed your Form F then you go before a panel where a decision is made. It's not as scary as it sounds! For a start, the social worker that has completed the Form F will not put you forward to panel unless she feels that you will get approval. That said, sometimes the panel will have a few questions to clarify something. But they make every effort to put you at ease - I should know I was on a panel for about 18 months :)
Parental Responsibilities - In some instances parents still have some shared responsibilities with social services to make decisions relating to the child
Passport - It is encouraged to start the passport application process as soon as a child is in care. It makes it easier if there's a school trip, or for holidays, even identification.
PEP - This is a Personal Education Plan. When a child is in the care system their education can understandably suffer. Regular meetings are held with the school and the Virtual Learning Team to help the child stay on track.
Photographs - Photographing the children can be done - I mean, how else do you record the time the child spends with you, and keeping those memories are extremely important. However, as a foster carer you are not allowed to share that child's image. So, if you notice, whenever I include a photo of a foster child on here or IG it's always their back - or a smiley face covering there head - or it's been pixelated. I do think it's important that foster care is publicised, even though other foster carers may disagree and try and get me into trouble for doing so! Because so much is not known about foster care, the comment is always "Oh I couldn't do that I would get too attached!" (to which I usually reply "and you think I don't??") But there's emergency, there's respite, if it's not possible to commit to long term there's always other types of foster care that's needed.
Placement Plan - When a child moves into your home there has to be a placement meeting, usually at the social services offices, where decisions made are organised. For example, how will contact look? Time, duration, place. Ensuring you have the delegated authority form signed.
Private Agencies vs Local Authority - After you've decided you would like to be foster carers, this is the first decision you have to make. Do I want to register with a Private Agency or the Local Authority. We thought long and hard about this. What we learnt in our research was quite simple. If we choose the LA the children are not usually so complex as all needs go out 'in house' first. But the allowances were less. Rumour had it support was also not as robust. Privately the children could be more demanding, but as a private organisation the allowances were more. For us this wasn't a difficult choice. It's not about the money. It's never been about the money. Jeff says the day we put the income before the child is the day we stop fostering. He's bang on with that. I don't think the LA system is perfect, we've had some amazing support and equally some areas fall well short. And I do have an issue with some people getting more money than others. The fact that a private agency costs the LA twice as much and therefore is a much bigger drain on the department is an issue. I imagine that will sometimes impact on decisions. Yeah, I know it shouldn't but still..... And if a child is placed with a private agency why should they receive so much more of an allowance? We'd both be meeting the child's needs in an almost identical way. Can you tell it bothers me? I suppose the answer would be to try private for a while and see if the grass really is greener on the other side!

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Love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts below. Suzanne xx