What it's really like to be assessed as a foster carer

Posted: Wednesday 10th August 2016

What it's really like to be assessed as a foster carer, written by a newly approved Flintshire foster carer

To start you will get a question and answer form that asks questions about yourself but, my problem was the smallness of the boxes as whilst we don’t usually talk a lot about ourselves this opened up a can of worms, but, it’s only the beginning of a massive trip down memory lane that you will find is happy, sad and at times frustrating. 

1

  • The Story of your Life
  • Your Relationship
  • Your experience with children
  • The neigbourhood
  • Fostering
  • Your own children
  • The Ex

 

For the purpose of this blog I'm going to call it our Autobiographical statement...

The autobiographical statement can be intimidating, but it is essentially the story of your life. You may be asked to describe who reared you and their style of child rearing and how this has affected you socially and personally, how many brothers and sisters you have, and where you are in the birth order, what support network you have around you.

I found that our statement answered many questions for us as a couple as well as for the assessment. Things like...

  • Were you close to your parents and siblings when you were a child? Are you close now? How much contact do you have with them?
  • What are some successes or failures that you have had? What educational level have you reached? Do you plan to further your education? Are you happy with your educational attainments? What do you think about education for a child?
  • What is your employment status? Your employment history? Do you have plans to change employment? Do you like your current job?
  • What experiences do you have with children, for me lots, for my husband hardly any.

Your relationship

If you are married, (as we are) there will be questions about your marriage. These may cover how you met, how long you dated before you married, how long you have been married, what attracted you to each other, what your spouse's strengths and weaknesses are, and the issues on which you agree and disagree in your marriage.

Others may ask how you make decisions, solve problems, settle arguments, communicate, express feelings, and show affection. If you were married before, there will be questions about that marriage. We described our ordinary routines, such as our typical weekday or weekend, our hobbies and interests, and our leisure time activities and as we have older children, how we integrate them into all this.

Your experience with children

There will be questions that cover your experiences with children, relatives' children, neighbours, volunteer work, babysitting, teaching, or coaching. You might be asked some "what if" questions regarding discipline or other parenting issues.

The neighbourhood

You will probably be asked about your neighbourhood: And where you grew up. How friendly are you/were you with your neighbours? What kind of people live/lived nearby?, whether there was any racial/ethnical/cultural diversity. Is it a safe area? Why did you pick this neighbourhood? Are you located conveniently to community resources, such as medical facilities, recreational facilities, shopping areas, and religious facilities?

And you will be asked about religion, your level of religious practice, and would you be willing to support any kind of religious upbringing you may be asked to support the child in. Remember if you say no then that’s not a strike against you, it’s just showing the team who not to place with you.

Fostering

There is also a section on specific fostering-related issues, including questions about why you want to foster, what kind of child you feel you can best look after and why. Also how you will tell the child why he or she is looked after.

What opinion you have of birth parents whom are the reason for their child being in care. How you will handle your relatives' and friends' questions about fostering, and whether you can bond to a child not genetically related to you as you will have to let them attach to you. I was advised to research the attachment theory to which I’m eternally grateful I did.

You may not know all these answers right away, we certainly didn’t but, it was actually a wonderful time learning stuff about each other that we'd never talked about before and walking down memory lane!

Our home study made us really think through these issues and we questioned each other and talked, talked and talked some more. One thing I can assure is, your assessing social worker is guiding you and supporting you throughout the whole process and will offer advice on describing these topics. They’re not going to criticise you but, will offer advice when needed.

Our own children

Part of our assessment involved our adult daughters (24yrs & 21yrs) being interviewed individually and they both reported that our SW made them at ease and not pressured. I told both of them beforehand to be completely honest.

The ex

The hardest part for us was “the exes”. I was dreading this part but we received reassurance and told why they had to do this and that they're used to this and can read people very well. I was asked things in a way that didn't make me feel I was under interrogation. Firstly we talked a little about what the relationship is like now with my ex, which is ok fortunately, then she asked me questions about how long we were together and why we broke up.

Then she sent a letter to my ex requesting an interview. I think if you are telling the social worker that you and your ex get on like a house on fire and he says something different then that may give concern but, if you are honest then it won't come as a big shock, after all they are used to dealing with disgruntled partners. In the end it was all ok if a little frustrating at times.

Statement from my ex-husband “Initially my children told me about my ex-wife wanting to become a foster carer and that I would be asked to be interviewed as they had been. Having never done anything like that before I was very unsure as to what would be expected of me. However, I eventually received a letter from Flintshire Fostering Services requesting an interview, I phoned the number provided and a date and time was set. The Social Worker arrived and immediately put me at ease, I can only say it was more like a chat and that interview seems too harsh a word, anyway we chatted about my relationship and whether I thought she was suitable to be a foster carer. I answered honestly in that I thought she was perfect for the role especially as I had witnessed her 1st hand bringing up our children. Fortunately for me we all live locally and have a good relationship mainly due to the fact we have children together. The whole interview only lasted 30 minutes at the most and I know from that and talking to my daughters I will need to support them when placements move on”. Yours sincerely - The Ex

To conclude…

You are about to embark on an emotional roller-coaster but just remember to put your seatbelt on and you will enjoy the ride.Yes you will hear all the horror stories in your skills to foster course and have lots more to face in your assessment but, to inform you we have our 1st placement and his smile makes everything worthwhile, after all how can we protect these little ones if we can’t even face our own demons?

Good luck and remember you are half way there!

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