At the start of our fostering campaign we heard from one of our foster families about what life is like looking after a child in care. This week we’re finding out what it’s like working on the other side - the ones who support foster carers and young people.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Practice Lead for Fostering, Lorraine Prentice, said: “It’s vital that our foster carers feel supported and we are always available at the end of the phone to help. Every foster carer is assigned a supervising social worker who will visit them at least once a month to check that everything is okay. This visit is recorded and an action plan is developed for any tasks that need to be followed up. Alongside this, all foster children in placements have their own social worker who visits them regularly.
“We hold two Foster Carers Days per year, which gives everyone the opportunity to meet up with other carers and undertake training. There are also a number of local support groups throughout the area that meet regularly.”
So how are children assigned to foster carers? The matching process varies depending on each child’s circumstances, but the foster carer is always fully involved in developing a transition plan. The foster carer is given lots of information about the young person before their identity is disclosed. This enables the carer to consider the young person’s needs realistically, and decide whether they can meet those needs or not.
Lorraine said: “It’s important that foster carers don’t feel emotionally pressured into accepting a match if it’s not what’s best for them or the child. I strive to develop the best support possible for all carers with my team, and seeing the energy and commitment that they also have to this area of work is very satisfying.
“Social workers take on this career to try to make a difference to other people’s lives, and this is one field which this can be done to great effect - when everyone around the child works together.
“The best thing about my job is getting to know people who come forward to care for other peoples’ children, and seeing them embrace the child, taking them into their homes and lives. The difference that can make to a child is immeasurable, and very rewarding for all parties.”
To find out more about fostering in Argyll and Bute, visit: www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/fostering