Dear Carers Hello, how are you all? Enjoying 2017 I hope and looking forward to Easter!
Changes to the Placements Team
Towards the end of 2016, the Placement’s Team went through a renovation. Marcus, who had been the Manager of the Placements Team/scourge of your telephones at 4.55pm on a Friday, decided that he needed a new challenge. He has now using his many years of experience to recruit new carers coming through. Our dear Kaylie, who had done an excellent job as Placements Advisor for two years has also transferred her expertise and organisational brain to be our new Panel Coordinator.
Who’s leading us?
What about those who remained I hear you ask?! Well, Ashleigh has taken over as Placements Manager, utilising her fantastic knowledge of fostering and her innate desire to boss me around! I too am now the Senior Placements Advisor, meaning that along with finding placements I also have a lot of other tasks that leave me with a headache! Ash and I have worked closely together for many years now and we remain as committed as ever to finding the right young people for you to foster.
Welcome to our new colleagues
We have been joined by two wonderful new starters; our new Placements Advisor is Edem, who has considerable experience in customer service roles and a degree in Social Sciences. Our Administration is being handled by the extremely diligent Rashida, who also has worked in a number of customer focussed and challenging administrative roles. Both have thrown themselves into the role and you may have already spoken to them!
….and Larry, too!
Our carers in the South East may recognise the familiar face (or the familiar voice to be more exact) of Larry, who has taken a hiatus from Social Working to work as a Placements Officer for the region. Larry brings with him many years of experience which he has being putting to excellent use.
We’re here for you
Ashleigh and I are keen to move Placements forward within this ever changing industry. Fostering is certainly not the same as when I started here 5 years ago and I am sure there are those of you who can remember what it was like long before that. The Team is keen to be even more proactive than ever to find placements for our vacant carers and we as a team are keen to be more visible in our searches. As such, we are aiming to periodically attend carer support groups where we can update everyone about what we are seeing coming through. When we do, please come and speak to us and we can try and answer any specific queries you may have. We will also be coming along to training and events too.
You are always on our mind(s) (thank you for that line, Elvis!)
On the subject of carer support groups, I have received some excellent feedback which is helping to shape our approach. Something that has come up several times from carers regards when you don’t hear from us. Some have expressed concerns that they feel they have been forgotten or blacklisted by us when they don’t hear us. Let me address this straight away; this is not the case at all. All of our vacant carers, to paraphrase Elvis Presley, are always on our mind(s). We see an extremely high volume of children referred each week and we work hard to analyse the information sent to us to make a match. If you haven’t heard from us it is likely that our attention is with one of your fellow carers, but rest assured the moment we see a child we think would be good for you we will be in touch to send them over.
Challenges and matching
The children being referred are the most challenging I have seen in my time in this role and it is vital that we get the right match for them and for you. I won’t pretend we always get it 100% right, but we will always work closely with yourselves and your Social Work Team to make the right decision. Some carers have said they worry if they say no to a child, we won’t consider them for further children. You will always be considered and if it is a young person is not for you, give us constructive reasons back as to why this is. That way, we can use your reasoning to inform our matching in the future. We do not put people on hold as a whim and certainly not because they have said no to a child. If you are put on hold, this will be communicated to you by your Social Worker and the reasons why carefully explained. It is not because we do not consider you a good carer, it just might be that we as an agency and you need to do some further work with you to make you the best carer you can be. On the subject of matching, we understand that life can often change what it is right for you.
If you have a situation change (family moving in/out, pets, new training or a new relevant interest) please let your Social Worker know, or drop us an email to update. I know some of you like to give us a call but often we are unable to speak to you because we are busy looking at referrals or one of the other many tasks that comes with our role. Also, sending us an email means we can update our colleagues in the team more efficiently and accurately.
I have made this joke to many of you before, but I stand by it, I would happy not to speak to any of you ever again! Not because I don’t want to, but because we have found you a well matched young person who has been the missing part in your fostering jigsaw. We are not a company who operate with a “bums on beds” manifesto – every child that we put in with you will be well considered and well matched to you. If you don’t hear from us, it’s just because the children we have seen have not been right for you. Fostering is far more challenging than ever before. There are new risks to young people, a shortage of carers and cuts to local government meaning the industry is facing a very challenging future. We at Blue Sky are committed to helping as many children as we can, with skilled, confident, well matched carers.
I like to think I have spoken to each of you across our agency (and believe me, there are A LOT of you) and all of you have my absolute respect. You have offered your homes to those who need it most, agreed to your worlds being turned upside down so someone else’s can be realigned and for that, they and I will always be eternally grateful (though they might not always show it). The Team and I look forward to seeing you at Support Groups and Events - hopefully where you can tell us about how great you and your young person are getting along.
Best wishes to you all, Joe J