How much longer do you think it will be before I get to Panel?

(12 Posts)
3catsnokids Tue 31-Dec-13 18:05:37

Hi, my husband and I have applied to foster with our LA. I filled the first form in and went to an information evening in July. At that evening they said they aimed for the whole process of applying through to getting approved to take 6 months. So I was hoping for January.

Filled a couple more forms in, as soon as I was sent them, and had someone visiting us at home. Then we got a letter in October saying they hoped it would be 6 months from then.

Since then I have filled in loads of paperwork (family backgrounds, beliefs etc) and our DBS checks have come through. We've also both had medicals. We are booked in for training in January, but I'm not sure what other steps there are before we get to panel? And how close we are to the end of the process.

I just wondered if anyone had any info of what else we can expect. The lady who is dealing with our case is lovely but I don't want her to think we're hassling her so I don't like to ask her too much outside of actual meetings. But at the same time if things aren't happening as quickly as they could be I would like to move things on a bit. I did have an issue in September because I didn't contact anyone over the holidays to see if they'd got a form I'd sent in as I knew various people would be off, but when I did get in touch they had no record of it and it took a while to get things moving again.

Thanks

Mummypenny Tue 31-Dec-13 19:48:41

We first rang up in July for an info pack and had our initial visit halfway through July. Is the training you have in January the skills to foster? I'm assuming the lady you have is visiting you regularly to go over family, lifestyle etc.

We had our skills to foster in October and then were assigned our assessing social worker. She has visited us every week for 7 visits and now a break over christmas. We have two more visits with her, last one on 13th Jan then she's visiting our references and writing up our report. Our panel date is first week in March. So you sound on about the same time scale as us.

3catsnokids Wed 01-Jan-14 01:58:15

Hi Mummypenny, thanks for answering. Yes, the training is the skills to foster.

The woman who seems to be dealing with our case has visited us once to meet us and see our home, and once to check our DBS clearances once they came through. We also had a meeting with her in her office where we went through a pack of paperwork for us to take away to fill in - jobs, family background, lifestyle, etc. That's it.

Mummypenny Wed 01-Jan-14 09:54:55

Ah, well she will come and do regular visits, probably after the skills to foster course. She will come and talk to you in detail about the forms you filled in as well as other things. Ours started coming after skills to foster every week for about 2 hours a session.

Some of the sessions were on
My childhood, hubby's childhood,
Education and employment- so going over the form you filled in on this in detail.
Child protection, Abuse, Trauma and behaviour.

Our last two sessions are on:
1)Expectations and impact of fostering, Placement considerations
2)Contact and working with birth families, Professional development.

What age range are you planning to foster?

3catsnokids Wed 01-Jan-14 10:13:00

I'm really looking forward to the training, I think it will be really interesting. My husband can't make one of the days. He's been told that's ok, so I hope that's the case.

We've put down that we would foster 0-12 year olds, and we have 1 spare room so we can have up to 2 siblings.

NanaNina Wed 01-Jan-14 22:57:41

Hi there - I am a retired social worker and team manager of a Fostering & Adoption team - retired in 2004. I did work independently after for 5 years, mostly assessing kinship carers for neighbouring LAs.

I can understand how frustrating it is to have to wait so long for anything to happen and many carers wonder why this is, when LAs are in dire need of foster carers. I think most of the problem is lack of social work time (too few social workers) to ensure the process moves along relatively speedily. Most LAs are really struggling with vacancies that they can't fill because of the massive cuts that this govt is making to the budgets of all public services. Having said that I do think the LA sws should let you know why the process is delayed, and give you details of how much longer your application will take.

I'm not sure how your LA are organising their preparation course, some do it one evening a week over 6 or so weeks, others include weekends which makes the course quicker but should cover the same ground.

After the prep course there is still the bulk of the work to do, which is the assessment (or homestudy) which is when the assessing sw visits you and your partner/husband and goes through all your personal details, including looking at the sorts of childhoods that you had, how you were parented, your education and employment, your life style, your marriage/partnership and the other issues that 3cats mentioned.

Again how sws carry out the assessment varies. The usual way is to visit you in your home once a week for a period of 1.5 - 2 hours, and so that can take 6 or 7 weeks. After that the assessing social worker has to get her report written and typed (and this can take quite a time, dependent on how much time they have available) they also have to visit referees and write up reports on these, which again is time consuming. THEN you will be booked into Panel!

I really don't think you should be overly concerned about "speaking out of turn" to the lovely lady (glad she is lovely, cus some of them aren't!) and I think it is wholly reasonable that you politely ask if you could have some idea of the timescales involved. All foster carers (as far as I can recall) used to complain once they were approved and more experienced about how long the whole assessment took, and you probably will too.

The age range of 0 -12 is a very good offer, so if the LA are prioritising assessments (and some do) you should be at the top of the list, and maybe offers of 0- 5 would not be such a priority as there are usually sufficient carers for that age range.

Finally, I would advise that you query anything that you need to while on the prep course. Sometimes these groups can be very cosy and everyone gets along well, and of course that's a good thing, but sometimes there are issues that people wonder about but are not willing to ask in case they look silly. Chances are that there will be others wondering the same things as you, so use the prep course to your best advantage. You really mustn't view the prep course/assessment with rose tinted specs on, or you will be very disillusioned when you actually start to foster. There are no guarantees in fostering and it is not for the feint hearted. Sometimes carers think sws are emphasising the negatives too much, but I was never apologetic about that, because we need to be honest with people about the challenges of caring for very emotionally hurt children.

Many carers believe initially that if you give these children your time and love all will be well, and sometimes it might be enough but mostly it isn't enough, as these children have learned from their birthparents/step-parents that adults are not to be trusted. Learn all you can about attachment theory - it's one of the most important issues in fostering and many LAs put on post approval courses, but you could give yourselves a head start by reading around this topic. I'm sure there are books on Amazon on the topic.

Sorry I'd better stop or I'll be starting the prep course on here!!

3catsnokids Thu 02-Jan-14 23:35:46

Hi NanaNina, thanks for your post. It was really useful.

Our training is 5 sessions - 3 Saturdays and 2 week day evenings. There was a week long course but that wasn't until March so we opted for the earlier training dates which just happened to be the evenings and weekends -which suits us better really.

I am trying very hard not to imagine everything all rosy with well behaved children. When my mum was a teacher she worked with sisters who were in foster care, and they had a lot of behaviour issues that she used to tell me about. I have also worked in schools and with kids in care but the children I've worked with didn't present any challenging behaviour at school although I know at home they may have been very different.

I do know a little about attachment theory, but I will definitely read more about it.

Thanks again.

3catsnokids Sun 19-Jan-14 10:27:34

Hi, me again. We had our first training session this week, which was very interesting. But, someone asked how long it might take for us all to get to panel and we were told 6 months. So that's 3 times I've been told 6 months and if it is 6 months from now that will be a year since we applied. I understand they are very busy and have lots going on, so I won't complain or anything, but I'm just really keen to get started!

Mummypenny Sun 19-Jan-14 14:56:34

Its frustrating isn't it? Although we all know why it takes so long it still doesn't make us any more patient lol. We made our first enquiry in July and have had our panel date moved back a month now, to the first week in April. Our social worker said her next visit will be the last but who wants to bet she adds another on? lol. So that will be 9 months for us but we have done inter-agency child protection and paediatric first aid with them.

kendalmintcake0311 Tue 28-Jan-14 15:16:35

Hi, I'm a new member so please bear with me if i get things muddled
smile
We started our fostering journey 2nd week in October 2013 (that was the initial telephone call), things have moved very quickly for us what with medicals, risk assessments, pet assessments then the endless amounts of paperwork you are given to complete. It has been a very intrusive process, very soul searching and i must admit one of the best things i have ever signed myself up for grin
We have one more visit from our ssw to read through the report, then we go to panel the 2nd week in March , that will be 5 months from start to finish if all goes to plan!! I am getting more and more nervous now because i think something is going to go wrong as things seem to be going so well. Have we just been very lucky on how quickly our assessment has been done or is it normal for panel to be put back at the last minute??
Love reading the threads on this site, it has given me so much to think about for when we do eventually get a placement grin

Mummypenny Tue 28-Jan-14 19:07:59

Are you going with LA or IFA? I know that private companies are usually faster at assessing. Maybe your social worker is just on the ball or you have a very uncomplicated life? I had an extremely complicated childhood so needed 2 sessions just to cover everything LOL. They wont send you to panel if they dont think you are ready so try to relax

kendalmintcake0311 Wed 29-Jan-14 10:03:28

We are going with the LA, yep the social worker must be very on the ball as i know we have had a complicated life at times smile
The process does seem to have flown by even though at times it has seemed like it would never end!!
And thankyou i will try to relax grin

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