Are two placements ever the same when you are a Foster Carer? Well you many have the same number of young people in the house but the dynamics are always different. In my Fostering career, as either a single or married man, I have had a nice mix of single children, 2 siblings and even 4 siblings but never 3 strangely enough. The 2 groups of 4 siblings I had were similar in numbers only, the backgrounds were completely different. Coping with 4 is very hard and you need strict routines and to be well organised and on top of your game. The morning routine around school was the worst time, 4 young people to ensure cleanliness, breakfast and correct stuff for school. At the time of the second group of 4 we already had a young man with us on holiday respite so we actually had 5 in placement, a real challenge but one that we rose to.
So the reason behind this thread is that you can never become complacent as a Foster Carer. Every child is different, every parent, every social worker and every local authority. Never prejudge a placement, always give yourself time to get to know the cast members in each placement. Your main focus is the young person/people in your house but look at contact, social work visits and how everything else fits together. The most important administrative part of Foster Care is your record keeping. I always set a time of 10pm to sit, with my laptop, and log the day’s events as you never know when it could be important to refer back to your notes. Know when your statutory visits are due and always keep on top of housework in case you get one of those unannounced visits. Mine always seemed to happen when the place looked tidy and I was showered shaved and dressed. I have always been lucky with Supervising Social Workers (SSW). I’ve had some excellent SSWs in my career and always have an excellent relationship with them all. If they turn up when they say they will and have your back then you are very lucky. The best SSW I ever had was a middle aged chap working for an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA). He was friendly, great with the kids, reliable, supportive and very experienced and knowledgeable. He was great in meetings and would always be quick to say if he didn’t think that the LA Social Worker was pulling their weight. I was sad when he moved to a different region but was lucky that his replacement was equally good. In fact working for an IFA like Fostering UK you get to work with some great, highly professional people. It’s funny how you meet people who you worked with at other organisations, it’s always nice to catch up for a chat and reminisce about times gone by. I
recently met up for coffee with the LA social worker for one of the 4 child sibling groups I mentioned earlier. We chatted about the placement, the young people and the other people involved. It was interesting to hear her ‘take’ on certain aspects of the placement and how it affected her when she was dealing with a pile of other cases too. I have nothing but respect for social workers. Admittedly I’ve worked with some that are not so good but the vast majority are hardworking and conscientious. It’s a job that I would be able to cope with and they earn every penny of the money they earn.