Coming to Panel, A Carer’s Perspective
At the end of your assessment you will be invited to attend a meeting of a fostering panel with your social worker, whom you will have got to know whilst completing your assessment. The panel members will have read your assessment report and will ask you some questions before making a recommendation about your suitability to foster. It may all sound a bit daunting, but it is an essential part of becoming a foster carer with The Fostering Foundation.
The following is an account by a foster carer of how he and his wife found the panel experience!
“It all sounded a bit much; not only an assessment but an interview by a panel! Sally, the social worker who did our assessment, had told us about the panel quite early on but as we got towards the end of our assessment she gave us some more details about what to expect. What was really helpful was the booklet she gave us about the panel members, so when we finally walked into the room we had some idea of what they looked like! She also went through the final report very carefully and we discussed what things the panel might want to ask us about
On the day we were both nervous: Would they like us? Would we be able to answer the questions? In the end we decided to try and relax and just be ourselves, easier said than done!
We arrived at the Fostering Foundation’s office and it was good to see Sally there as well as other staff in the office whom we had met previously. The panel chair came out, introduced himself and briefly explained what was going to happen. He was reassuring; they were not out to trick us and were appreciative that we had put ourselves forward to be foster carers.
So, along with Sally, in we went; introductions were made and although neither of us could remember any names, we did feel more relaxed. The chair stated that the panel wasn’t going to do another assessment (we were pleased about that!) but had a few questions to ask us. He said that the main business of the panel was to make sure that any children we would be looking after would be safe in our home and have a warm and caring experience. That sounded right, after all that’s why we had put ourselves forward! He also said that the panel needed to make sure that the assessment had been as thorough as possible and that we had had a chance to ask all the questions we wanted.
Then they asked their questions; there were no surprises and we both thought that Sally had done a good job in getting us ready. The panel members were friendly although the questions were serious and made us think about how different our lives were going to be as foster carers and what it would be like having to work with social workers coming into our home! It lasted about 25 minutes and then we had a chance to ask questions, although we couldn’t think of any!
Out we went with Sally and a few minutes later we were called back in. The chair was straightforward and told us that they were pleased to be able to recommend us as foster carers. We were so pleased, my wife even cried!!
In many ways the panel seemed to bring a conclusion to the assessment, reminding us of the challenges involved in becoming a foster carer and the importance of the work we would be doing in the future with The Fostering Foundation.”