Panel Questions

(21 Posts)
theoriginalscummymummy Wed 19-Jan-11 11:03:56

Hi All,

We're nearly finished as far as assessment goes, but our SW has sent us a list of questions to type up for her for Panel, and one of them is- "How do you think fostering will impact on your relationship?"

I have no idea what to say, and I was just wondering if anyone would be willing to share their experiences with me?

Thanks all.

p99gmb Wed 19-Jan-11 11:28:01

We've been approved & fostering for just over 4 months.

My dh has grown up kids, I don't have any.

It has had a huge impact on our relationship - both positive and negative.

We took a while to 'settle into it' and find our common parenting skills.

We have absolutely no free time together, except from 7pm onwards when the kids are in bed. By that time, we eat and pretty much are in bed asleep by 10pm.

Saying all of that, we love fostering and have very easy kids (two) to look after - I think it would put a further strain if we were up in the night, difficult eaters etc etc.

On the positive, we share a very worthwhile cause, all we talk about are the funny things the kids have done (and yes, the naughty things too) and I do believe it has enhanced our relationship.

Official meetings are difficult, as one has to stay at home with the kids, so I know dh feels a little left out and not party to the 'official' side of things.

Best of luck with panel - be sure to come back & let us know how you get on. I was terrified, and the only concerns mentioned to us where that I would get too attached and as my dh is veggie, would we give the kids meat!!!

smile

theoriginalscummymummy Wed 19-Jan-11 12:14:04

p99, thanks for this, it's given me a lot to consider. I am dreading panel! There are so many things I think they might "fail" us on, but we really want to do it! Hopefully they'll see that.

NanaNina Wed 19-Jan-11 18:06:10

scummymummy - shouldn't that be "scrummymummy" - not sure what you mean that your sw has given you Qs to "type up" for panel. This seems a bit odd to me. I have 30 years experience as a sw and tm mgr of a fostering team for a l.a. but am now retired.

Most prospective carers are nervous about panel and it is daunting to walk into a room with about 12 (possibly more) strangers sitting round a table. I used to chair fostering panels and always used to go out and meet the prospective carers first but everyone does things differently.

If your sw has done his/her job properly and presented a full assessment to panel with a positive recommendation, the likelihood of you being turned down is extremely remote. Most l.a.s have a panel advisor who goes through the sw assessments before panel and if there are issues of concern or need more explanation, they are discussed with the panel chair and the assessing sw. Sometimes this means the sw has to ask you to clarify something or make things more clear in the report. You will of course see a copy of your report and if there are things that you are not happy with, then you have the right to say so.

The panel meeting should not be a Q and A session although it can feel like that. We usually started by asking applicants for the ir views on the prep course - did anything stand out for them, etc. Don't be afraid to say anything that worried you - it is normal for people to have some concerns about this venture. I was always more re-assured by applicants who said they would not really know if fostering was right for them until they had started, but were very motivated, than those who tossed aside any potential problems.

They may pick things from the report and ask you about them, about the views of your own children (if you have them) how you might deal with difficult behaviour etc., (not sure what age range you are offering) but the Qs will be related to that age range.

SO it isn't a question of "failing" - problems can arise if the assessing sw has not explained things clearly enough in the report and this hasn't been picked up by the panel advisor or chair of panel and then the couple are asked about it, but this shouldn't really happen.

Also the panel will be multi disciplinary (a Health visitor or school nurse maybe, an education rep, a medical rep, a legal rep, a foster carer, a children's social worker, sometimes a young person who has been looked after and a councillor. Before you go in the chair organises who will "pick up" specific issues with you - not everyone will ask something. I always stressed to the panel that this should be a discussion rather than a Q and A session. Finally we know that applicants are nervous and this is taken into account.

Worry not I'm sure you will be fine - the real work starts with your first placement!

theoriginalscummymummy Thu 20-Jan-11 10:40:57

Nananina- perhaps I really should change that. Someone said I was scummymummy after they discovered I hid my mucky pots in the oven if I got a surprise visitor! Now I just make them wash up...

I think these are the questions the panel wants clearing up- there's a list of 27! I've nearly finished them, but it has taken me ages! Thank you so much for explaining what happens, it's all a bit mysterious...

p99gmb Thu 20-Jan-11 11:51:48

Gosh - you are so lucky to get advance notice.. we got about 3 mins to formulate our answers before going infront of them.

27 !!! are you sure?? That is a lot. Thankfully on our panel day, we were the first in and they were seriously running late so I think that might have helped a little bit!!

Good luck anyways smile

NanaNina Thu 20-Jan-11 14:20:45

Yes definitely scrummymummy! - I just cannot understand this business of you being presented with 27 questions that panel want "clearing up" - it is quite ridiculous. It shouts out to me that the sw haas not done a full and comprehensive assessment in the way she she/he should have done. This just isn't fair on you. I can honestly say in 30 years I have never heard of such a thing. If the chair/panel advisor has sent her/him off to give more detail in the assessment, she should discuss these matters with you, NOT give you the issues to answer yourself. If that were the case, there would be no need for assessing social workers, applicants could just ask a series of questions! An assessment means that you listen to what people say, how they say it, whether the couple are in agreement etc - what are they not saying etc etc.

Have you seen your Form F Report and paperwork that is going to panel? If I were you I would ask the sw why the panel want to know all these things and should they have been covered in the assessment.

Do NOT be worried about being open with the sw even if it upsets him/her because foster carers are like gold dust to social services. They need you more than you need them!

If she has just asked you to answer the questions and presents this to panel, they probably will not accept it and send her off to sort out the assessment properly and you will be left in the lurch until the assessment is properly carried out. Mind I am looking at good practice and I once chaired a panel for a neighbouring authority and was appalled at their practice.

Hope all this gets sorted out but do ask the sw why you have to answer all these Qs.

NanaNina Thu 20-Jan-11 14:26:39

Me again - your social worker is incompetent because he/she should have explained panel procedure to you. In the l.a. that I worked for we sent out letters to applicants before the panel, explaining what will happen. You see this could be the first assessment this sw has carried out, but even if it is (and everyone has to start somehwhere) it should have been picked up that so many issues had not been addrressed.

The system is that the fostering sw does the assessment and this is read and agrees (or not) by their manager and then the papers are sent to the panel advisor as I described before and if she/he is concerned they discuss with the panel chair. Mind I often got into disagreements with team managers who had signed off assessments that were not up to standard. It is just so unfair onthe applicants.

Do you know any foster carers in your area - they always know the good sws from the incompetent ones!

theoriginalscummymummy Thu 20-Jan-11 21:57:57

hi Nina,

I believe it is her first assessment and tbh, I thought it was all a little bit easy so far. We've applied through FCA, and even though it's not LA, I would have thought that procedure is procedure when it comes to Panel. I am totally puzzled at some of the questions as well- on of them being "Have you ever had a miscarriage or a termination?" I don't mind answering, but it seems a little weird. Thanks Nina for helping!

NanaNina Thu 20-Jan-11 22:12:41

FCA has a good reputation as an independent fostering agency but they usually make doubly sure their assessors are competent, because IFAs are of course businesses and are profit making unlike the LA. I had assumed you were talking about a LA but I would have thought panel procedures were much the same. I would still ask the sw why you are having to answer all these Qs and if you are still disatisfied, ask to speak to her manager. I can assure you that an IFA will most certainly not want to lose a potential foster carer (you are worth a lot of money to them).

I think you have a case for making sure the panel are aware of your concerns. This is just unacceptable and whilst IFAs do differ I'm sure in some respects, they have a duty to carry out a competent assessment on which the panel can make a decision.

Sorry I'm a bit opposed to IFAs as they make huge profits out of cash strapped LAs but that is just my opinion. Are you aware that LAs only place with IFAs when there is no possibility of placing with an "in house" carer, because of the cost (which when I retired was about 3 times the cost of an inhouse placement, and with the cuts this is going to be even more of a problem) Also you have more chance of getting the more difficult children for placement though this is not always the case becasue there is a big shortage of LA foster carers. When they first set up they only used to take experienced carers, but now they take inexperiened carers and I'm not sure this is very good, as you could get a child placed from anywhere in the country and therefore not have the local support that you would with a LA. However you will be paid more and I know many IFA carers are very happy with the arrangement.

However, the way your assessment has been carried out is totally unacceptable.

fostermumtomany Fri 21-Jan-11 10:45:49

i was going to say i cant understand why you would need to answer questions it should all be covered in your form f!!!

when we went to panel (granted it is a fair while ago now lol) there were 12 people sitting around a very large table. we were at the far end. our social worker sat with us.

they asked us how our children felt about fostering how we would cope financially as i had given up work, why we wanted to foster.
it seemed as though they just wanted to hear our voices instead of just reading what was written.
several people at panel the same day as us were turned down as the sw had not completed the form f correctly. things were missing or the carers were not aware of certain things to do with being a carer. they all had to go back to panel again.
we were lucky with our sw, it took her a very long time to complete our form f (3 years) but we did get approval that day.

i would do as nananina says and ask your sw why you need to answer these questions. it seems very odd indeed!

(im with you nananina im not keen on IFAs either, we were to take a baby coming from an agency carer a few months ago and it was costing the LA a small fortune to keep her there, then the judge decided that as the baby had bonded with her carer it would be too unsettling to move her. the LA were furious as they really struggle to meet costs in this way. several times my lw has stated that la carers would be better paid if they were not having to fork out huge fees for agencies.

NanaNina Fri 21-Jan-11 21:23:30

Fostermumtomany - 3 years to complete an assessment............I am staggered. That seems to me to be unbelievable - god what was the social worker doing - counting your eye lashes!

Sounds like there were problems with the LA fostering team as yours took 3 years and other sws were sent off to re-do assessments. I think this is so unfair on applicants and I think LAs should consider themselves very fortunate if the applicants carry on with the process, when the IFAs are there, waiting to pounce, so to speak.

I know all assessments are different and some much more complex than others but I think 6 months for an assessment is the maximum time that should be taken. Admittedly LAs organise in different ways, and some have dedicated teams who do the prep courses and the assessments and get people to panel asap.

IFAs started up around about 10 years ago as far as I can remember and we hadno idea how they would take off....I know of several in the area in which I worked who have made the founders very very rich. I know of one that drives a Porsche and one who has a string of race horses as well as houses in France and Spain. Of course they are encouraged by governments of whatever hue, as they are all obsessed with privatisation.

The thing that amazed me was that so many of our carers remained loyal to the LA whilst seeing others earning 2 or 3 times more than them. Also of course the children get access to whatever service is needed, play therapy, special ed, etc and no-one can disagree with this but it is of course the LA that is paying for all this via the fee charged by the IFAs. Our carers used to say why couldn't LA carers be paid the same, as we paid IFAs when our backs were against the wall and we had no other placement. They were absolutely right, and myself and other manager colleagues argued this with senior managers, but got nowhere, just being told that it was not affordable and this was before the sweeping cuts that are due to come in under this coalition.

Well done for staying with the LA!

theoriginalscrummymummy Sat 22-Jan-11 16:47:53

I was refused by the LA who wouldn't even send me an application form, as I was "too young." Seriously. I'm 32, and have been working with "difficult" teenagers for 10 years now, working my way from skivvy to manager. That's why we tried FCA, as when I called they sounded really interested in my experience. I fully intend to swap when I've got some fostering experience under my belt!

fostermumtomany Sat 22-Jan-11 18:47:47

wow really?

i was 20 wehn i applied and approved at 23!

my mum was only 18 when she applied and had her first child within 4 months followed by a sibling group of 6!!!!

i find that to be extremely unusual to be refused at 32!!!

there was a girl who lived on mystreet who applied and got approval at the age of 21 just last year, she was single with 4 kids of her own!

fishtankneedscleaning Sat 22-Jan-11 18:56:09

21 with 4 children and was approved to foster?? That must have been a Local Authority right?

NanaNina Sat 22-Jan-11 19:39:00

scrummymuumy - I can't believe that the LA turned you down. The only rule about age is that you have to be over 21. Think you should have made a formal complaint. I am sometimes quite amazed at what some MNs are putting up with from LAs when foster carers are like gold dust.

In what capacity do you work with difficult teenagers - is it for the same LA that turned you down. Unbelievable.

theoriginalscrummymummy Mon 24-Jan-11 21:38:29

It is indeed, I work in an FE setting basically as a mini counsellor. Not counselling because I give advice as well, on all sorts of issues. Mainly sexual health, behavioural and mental health issues. I'm busy!

RUE2012 Mon 27-Feb-12 14:23:46

Scummymummy - I am chair of two fostering panels, one independent and one LA, and see little point in you typing up questions. The fostering panel is like any other interview and you need to prepare for it. However unlike other interviews your assessor should have helped you prepare for this one. It is a formal process but it is there to ensure that fostering it is right for 'you' and the fostering agency and that the agency has done their job properly. It is not there to fail you and if applicants are turned down then it is often the process that is at fault.

NanaNina is right good carers are like gold dust and if your assessor has done her/his job correctly the panel should go fine.

As for impact on relationships - we are hot on this issue because the impact on the family can be great. It is a 24/7 task you are taking on. This has many rewards, but a broken relationship will help nobody. Given this one of my questions is often - 'How will you ensure that you make time for yourselves'.

From what I can see and with all the right checks etc, with your experience I am certain both my Panels would welcome you with open arms.

Hope this helps and good luck

Mrbojangles1 Mon 27-Feb-12 15:45:36

not much rumpy pumpy lol no don't write that

my oh found that fact that only ever ask for me a little jarring,

to be honest i think your sw is cheating a little i not sure she should be asking your for up front answers, maybe its something she realised hadn't gone to in enough depth before panel.

i think any new addtion to your family has a impact on your maraige even a new dog to what extent you never know until you start fostering so is a bit of a mood point really

newby1976 Mon 23-Apr-12 23:20:34

we were given a list of questions by our SW to answer close to the end of the process, but they were only to assist the SW to fill in gaps on the form F before it was submitted.

our panel was only in front of 8 people as the rest had called in sick, and the only question we were asked was "how would you cope with an extra child in the mornings?". to be honest it felt like a told formality once we we in there and it took less than 10 minutes

scarlet5tyger Tue 24-Apr-12 09:26:40

It really should be just a formality once you get to panel - at ours you don't even need to attend as your SSW should know the answers to any questions by then. If they don't then surely it would be better to put the panel back a month than send out a list like this.

Its ridiculous to hear of willing carers being turned down because they're too young. I know its difficult for my LA to recruit younger carers - something they desperately want to do as the largest group of carers they currently have are 50-60 and many thinking of "retiring". Its ridiculous to hear of willing carers being turned down because they're too young.

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