This month, we cover the final stage of the fostering process: the panel interview (with huge thanks to the prospective foster parents who provided their insights):
“We had spent the last few months being assessed to become foster carers. We felt relieved and satisfied when it was all completed and submitted to the relevant people. The next step was to be presented to panel in around a month’s time for yet more questions!
“The month seemed to drag. After seeing our social worker at least once a week, every week, it felt strange not to see her. In the days leading up to panel we felt very nervous. Our social worker tried to reassure us by saying if they didn’t think we would get through panel they wouldn’t have let the application go so far. That made sense but we were still a little nervous.
“The day of panel came and we donned our suits to try and make a good impression. We met our social worker for a drink and a chat and again she reassured us. We had already been through questions that were likely to be asked and which bits of our application might be focussed on.
“When the time came to enter the Civic Hall nerves had been replaced by adrenaline and excitement. I couldn’t wait to get in. Bring it on! Our social worker was asked in first, which we had been told wasn’t unusual. She was in there around ten minutes before our presence was requested. We entered to be greeted by ten people sat around desks laid out in a square. Everyone introduced themselves and said what their role was. These included a councillor, social workers and health worker amongst others. We then introduced ourselves and the questions began!
“The first question was the obvious one of why we wanted to foster. As this question had been asked numerous times over the course of the last six months it was an easy one to start with. I had done some voluntary work during the course of the assessment at a local children’s centre as I had not had very much experience with children. This had gone really well and I was asked by panel about it and what I had learnt and the experiences, particularly any bad behaviour I had experienced. Another topic that was discussed was that of our dog. Again, no surprise. We were asked how we and in fact the dog would react if he was victimised by a child.
“After the initial questions it was suggested that we might prefer to do respite care to start with in order to build our knowledge of fostering. This is something again that had been discussed previously. We had decided short term is what we wanted to do and not respite. I explained the reasons why we had decided on this. Several of the panel seem to agree that respite was the better option. We did not agree and expressed this view. We then moved on to talk about our support network. This is something we had covered in detail during the assessment and our social worker had even been to meet some of them. The panel seemed happy with the support we could call on and the range and knowledge of those people.
“After the questions had come to an end we were shown to a waiting room whilst the panel debated our application. After a short time the chair and her colleague came in and told us our application had been successful. We were told the panel were impressed with our willingness to learn and attend training courses. We were also told we were highly motivated and had robust support networks. We left the building and shared our good news with family and friends. Everyone was so pleased for us and most said the decision was never in doubt. Easy to say after the event! That was the theory done for now and now for the scary part – a real child!!!”
This Foster4Leeds couple were matched with a four-year old child who they have been fostering happily. If you think you have the right skills or a willingness to learn them and give a safe, secure and loving environment to a child in Leeds then we’d love to hear from you.