Following on from my last blog regarding starting off in Fostering, you have been through your form F and have been through panel and approved for you required number of children and for the required period, short term, long term or respite. The feeling of anticipation awaiting your first placement is one I still remember today, over 25 years since I was approved. Your agency, hopefully Fostering UK, will try very hard to match you to a suitable child or children. There will be occasions where the placement has been organised and the child or children will arrive with clothes etc. and it’s just a case of settling the placement in and going from there. However some placements will be more ‘emergency’ and the child or children will turn up with nothing, possibly in the back of a police car. These are more challenging as you will end up having to rush around for clothes, toiletries etc. These emergency type placements can happen at any time of the day or night and you will suffer with what we called ‘twitchy curtain syndrome’ from the neighbours. We made a point to let neighbours know that we are Foster carers and that there would the occasional Police Cars turning up at our house, just in case the neighbours thought that we were hardened criminals. We always made a point, with older children of sitting down and chatting with them and finding out some things about them. What do they like food wise, TV programmes, sport, subjects at school etc. We will then tell them something about us and also share some rules of the house. We will then show them around the house and show them their room. We made a point of having a set routine for new guests at our home and this seemed to work and make the young people feel at home. When you get the call about a prospective placement have a set number of questions to ask. We had a list on our kitchen notice board. Our questions included: The child’s or children’s health, contact, school, behavioural issues and, obviously, the reason the child is coming into care. This will give you an idea about what to expect from your placement and the confidence that you know everything about the young person joining your household. One thing I would say, if, based on the information you’re given, you don’t feel comfortable about the placement then it’s ok to say no. make sure you have valid reasons for saying no and be prepared to share that information with the agency. The next important box to tick is your note taking. Provide an update on how the young person, or people, is settling in. Are there any early issues or matters that you are unsure of how to deal with? If you start your record keeping on the correct way then you will find it easier to look back and ascertain where you are making improvements in your own practice and areas that you may need to improve on. Record keeping is beneficial to you, beneficial to the other professionals involved and beneficial to the young person or people you are caring for.

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