The application process for being a foster carer is naturally rigorous and as lengthy as necessary to paint a full picture of the applicants. This ensures the safety and wellbeing of the children who would be placed in their care and also protects the carers from undertaking a role they are not suited to or adequately prepared for.
If you're interested in fostering, you may have heard that part of your approval process will be to attend a fostering panel and you may be wondering what on earth this involves. This blog post aims to explain all but if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to call 01903 522966 and ask to speak to our fostering manager.
what is a fostering panel?
A panel is made up of independent professionals who all have a relevant background in areas such as social work, health, education, foster care, legal, and/or are care experienced themselves. It is led by a chair and every panel member goes through a recruitment procedure including an interview and vetting checks.
Their role is to make recommendations to the agency decision maker regarding the approval of carers and applicants based on written reports and other evidence shared with them.
As independent members, they can give an impartial view that is concerned with, most importantly, the interests of the children in placement, then both the interests of the agency and the carers/applicants.
when would I need to go to panel as a foster carer?
Attending panel will be part of your career as a foster carer and after attending a couple of times you will realise that it's not as intimidating as it sounds. Of course, the first time you go will be nerve-wracking as it will be to review your application to foster and make a recommendation as to whether you should be approved or not.
Following your approval, you will go to panel annually for your annual review where they will recommend your continued approval, perhaps with recommendations for specific training or development work to be done, or in some cases, they will recommend your approval is withdrawn if they have concerns about the care you have offered. This should never take carers completely by surprise as panel will be notified of issues or incidents that the agency will have already raised and begun to address.
what's involved in a panel meeting?
A panel administrator will contact carers/applicants and confirm the meeting details and when they should arrive. The carers/applicants will read the same reports that panel have read in advance of the meeting and will have been a part of the process of these reports being produced by their supervising social worker.
At the meeting itself, panel will speak to their supervising social worker first and ask questions they have prepared in advance. The carers/applicants will then join the meeting with their supervising social worker and will also answer questions panel have prepared in advance relating to the reports they have read. Panel will introduce themselves individually and should be friendly and welcoming.
The Chair will lead the discussion and ensure the carers/applicants understand what will happen and when. The carers/applicants and supervising social worker will then leave the meeting briefly whilst panel discuss their recommendation based on what they have read in advance of the meeting as well as the content of the discussions.
The carers/applicants will then return to the meeting with their supervising social worker and hear the recommendation and reasons behind it. If panel don't feel able to make a recommendation for whatever reason, the review or application will be deferred.
what happens after?
The minutes and reports go to the Agency Decision Maker who will decide whether to uphold panel's recommendation or not. Carers/applicants will be informed by letter of the decision and will have the opportunity to provide feedback following the meeting. They will also be able to appeal any decision they feel is unreasonable.
At asphaleia we have a friendly, experienced, and professional team that forms our fostering panel. Our panel chair, Siobhan, says the following about what carers/applicants can expect from attending asphaleia's fostering panel,
“As a panel we strive to create a welcoming and engaging environment. We know that coming to panel may evoke feelings of anxiety, so we will work with carers/applicants to get an understanding of their strengths as carers and how we can support them to continue to develop on their fostering journey. We hope carers/applicants will find us polite, curious and respectful and we would welcome their feedback about the ongoing improvement of how the panel works.”
To find out more about being a carer at asphaleia please visit our 'be a carer' page, or call as above.