In the previous instalment of our ‘First Steps to Fostering’ feature, we looked at what happens when we receive your completed application form. With the help of our Recruitment Team, behind the scenes, you’re well on the road to becoming a fully-fledged Blue Sky Foster Carer!
Whilst all this goes on, your Assessment Social Worker (ASW) will be getting to know you and your family and friends very well indeed and whilst doing so, will be writing your ‘Form F’. Kaylie, our Panel Coordinator works with our colleagues in the Recruitment Team and your ASW to ensure everything is in place for your date with our independent Panel.
Here, Kaylie describes this step of your journey:
Your Form F
“This is, indeed, a major piece of work for the ASW! Basically, it’s a really comprehensive look at your life, documenting your upbringing, your working life, your home life, your parenting style (if you have children of your own), and so on. Often, people find this a really enjoyable experience as the ASW will encourage you to reminisce and reflect on their lives. Everything is written down on your Form F and you have to check and sign the final version to agree to it being fair and accurate.”
Why are Form F’s so important?
“They’re important on so many levels! They’re the point of reference for our independent Panel members. When you meet with them, they will have read your Form F and will chat with you about it. I’ll tell you more about Panel in a moment. The other facet is that your Form F will be used by our Placements team. They are experts at matching foster carers to the children referred to us by local authorities. If you are chosen as a ‘good match’ for a child, it’s fairly usual for the referring local authority to view your Form F.
“As with any job application, there is an interview panel! But don’t worry about this, your ASW will have prepared you, thoroughly, and although your ASW won’t know what questions you will be asked, he or she will give good guidance. Panel members may ask questions about anything with in your form f to explore you potential suitability to foster or seek clarification. Please remember, Panel members are not looking for perfect human beings!
The Panel is independent, but a member of the Blue Sky team, from another region, will be on hand to supply Panel with any information they request about Blue Sky. Each has a different skill-set or appropriate experience of child care. For instance, one member may have a background in education, another in social work, there could be a foster carer (not from Blue Sky) and sometimes, a care leaver will be there. Most will ask you questions. They're not there to ‘trip you up’, they’re there to make sure you are fully prepared for your fostering life. Panels take place very regularly and, as a rule, you should be with them for no more than an hour. All applicants will be accompanied by their ASW to panel and it is hoped also along with a member of your Blue Sky team.”
What happens after Panel?
“So your time with Panel concludes and you leave the room. The Panel then discuss your application, your positive attributes and experiences and make a recommendation for your approval. The recommendation will detail the ages, genders, backgrounds and needs of your future foster children.
Panel will call you back in to their room to chat with you and your ASW. This recommendation will be forwarded to the Agency Decision Maker to approve you to foster. Again, the Agency Decision Maker is an independent person, not employed by Blue Sky and we like that decision to be made as soon as possible. There are children waiting for your care and it’s in their interests we work as efficiently as we can.”
The whole process is designed to equip you and enable you to foster, so what will it feel like when you phone rings and one of our Placements team chats with you about a child in need of your care? In the fifth and final instalment of ‘Your Five Steps to Fostering’, Joe explains the process of placing children and how vital the ‘matching’ process is to successful fostering.