Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Assessment meeting #2

I had my second Form F assessment meeting today, which went well. I'll post more about it asap!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Assessment meeting #1

Wow, what a day! Things are really happening now!

I had a meeting with the social worker from the agency to start the assessment process and it went really well. She asked a lot of in depth stuff about my childhood, my parents and family etc. It felt a bit funny at first telling this woman who I'd only met once before stuff I wouldn't normally discuss with a stranger, but I think I did ok! They have to gather all this information to see how past events impacts on your own parenting style and I totally understand where they're coming from.

The meeting was 2 hours long and she left me with a whole stack of homework - forms that need to be completed on my upbringing, major events in my life, my relationships with friends and family (inc my support network) and detailed notes on my education, employment, interests and personality. I started them as soon as she left and I've hardly scratched the surface... luckily I have a week before our next meeting to get them completed!

Well, the good news from today is:

* the social worker still thinks I'll make a good foster parent :)
* she was very impressed with how knowledgable I am of fostering and the application process
* we have the next three meetings booked, and will be halfway thru the assessment by early August!! (I couldn't believe this, I thought it would take much longer)
* I could be approved sooner than I thought (more Oct/Nov than in the new year as I expected)
* two out of three of my references have been returned
* the major illness in my family won't impact on my application (from info I'd read on the net, I was worried they would say take some time out and apply later on)
* the two children (a brother (8) and sister (4) pair) who I spotted on a website and thought could be a great match for my family might actually be a possibility as things are progressing so quickly.

I still have a training course to complete, which hopefully will be in September.

Also, I spoke to the social worker about the possibility of moving to a larger, more child friendly home. It won't affect my application, apart from the fact that the health and safety check will have to be redone at the new property (which will probably prove to be safer as I have a couple of possible hazzards here which are out of my control). So I'm now looking for suitable properties and might be moving soon!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

'No' from Social Services

Shortly after posting my first entry, I received a phone call from Social Services.

Despite a national shortage and current drive to recruit more foster carers...

'Helen Clarke, recruitment campaign co-ordinator said: ‘The UK is currently short of a staggering 10,000 foster carers and the Fostering Network is encouraging people during these two-weeks to think about fostering. Anyone can apply to be a foster carer as long as they have what it takes to care for children separated from their own families.’' (The Fostering Network, 2005)

Despite my skills and my suitability and my enthusiasm...

Despite the fact that I have a spare room with plenty of space for a child or children...

...they have decided that the spare bedroom would be seen as T's room (she shares with me and will do for the next couple of years) and they cannot proceed with my application. I explained that I would be happy to do respite/short term care for as long as the spare room is available. But it's still a no. I wonder if they're thinking of all the children who need a home when they make these kinds of decisions.

No wonder there's a shortage of carers.

It's a good job I've decided to go ahead with the agency and that they are happy with my current situation. I think I might just take a look at 3 bedroom houses though, just in case!

First steps

I've decided to create this blog for two reasons. The first is as a way for me to record my journey to becoming a foster carer, and hopefully, if everything goes to plan, our life as a foster family. The other reason is to give people (who are thinking about fostering but aren't sure what is involved) an insight into the process. I have looked for personal stories from foster carers online but my searches have been without much success... I hope this blog will fill that gap and help other people in their decision to foster.

As for me, I have always wanted to foster/adopt. When my daughter was born, and I decided that I wouldn't return to work, it seemed the perfect time. I can raise her, work from home, and provide a loving, safe environment for a child or children who are in need.

These are the steps I've undertaken so far:

Sept 2006?: When T was a few months old I contacted my local Social Services team to find out more about becoming a foster carer. They asked me to wait until she turned a year old and to call back then to apply.

early May 2007: (T was 11 months but I knew it would take a couple of weeks for them to get back to me!) I called Social Services back to confirm I was still interested in becoming a foster carer.

end May 2007: I was frustrated waiting to hear from SS so I began looking into other options. I found a list of fostering agencies online and contacted several of these. Many had reasons they couldn't work with me (T was still too young, the fact I'm renting was a problem etc) but two agencies were interested and sent information/application packs.

After filling in forms and more waiting, I had three initial visits scheduled:
mid-June: Social Services
end June: agency
early July: agency

The Social Worker from SS seemed happy, but had a few points to clarify with her manager. She informed me she would go away and write her report, pass it to her manager for approval, and I should hear back from them... in 8 weeks!!! The whole approval process would take 6 month to a year, with the later being more likely. I'm still waiting to hear if they would approve me.

The first agency seemed very happy with me and I had a very positive feeling about this meeting. She said she hoped I would choose to work with them. She also had to write up her report but said I would hear from them shortly and the process should take around 6 months. In the time between then and now, they have sought references and sent a medical form to be completed by my GP. They also offered me training even before my initial visit but T was unwell so I couldn't go. I'm pretty sure this is the agency I will work with.

The meeting with the second agency was also positive. He was very informative and certainly knew his stuff but I just got the feeling he was trying to talk me out of caring for the age group I would prefer (primary school age) and was promoting teenagers and young mums. Obviously I would be happy to care for any age child, but his agency doesn't place many young children and I felt he was saying certain things to make me choose his agency. My preference for primary age children is based on my teaching expericence, the fact T is still young, and my confidence in dealing with this aged child. I'd be happy to care for teenagers when I'm more experienced and T is older, but right now I feel younger children would fit in with our situation better.

So after all the waiting and the meetings, I'm now waiting again to hear from the agency to start completing the indepth approval process. The second agency left a Form F questionnaire which has helped me to gather my thoughts for the sessions when they happen. I just hope I'm contacted soon so we can get things moving...