Lucy Stevens - 6th April 2023
This week, we hear from Tricia who is a long-standing member of our Fostering Panel. She brings to panel a wealth of experience working with children and foster carers. Her personality and sensitive approach help all fostering applicants feel relaxed and comfortable when they appear at the Eastern Fostering Services Panel.
We asked Tricia to give us some insight into how panel works and what people can expect when they appear at fostering panel.
What is the fostering panel?
I have been a member of the Eastern Fostering Services’ panel for over ten years. The purpose of the panel is two-fold, to read the application documents of the people who are applying to become new foster carers for Eastern Fostering Services, and secondly to review the existing carers after their first year as foster carers and over some subsequent years.
The panel is made up of a chair person, an administrator and five or six independent people. Occasionally one of Eastern Fostering Services’ social workers sits on panel, but usually we are not directly employed by EFS. Some of us are social workers but there are teachers, psychologists, foster carers, business people. The aim is to give an objective overview of the applicants and hopefully to recommend their approval as foster carers. The fostering panel is an Ofsted requirement and all prospective applicants are recommended for approval in this manner.
“We meet some interesting, unusual people and welcome applicants from all sorts of backgrounds.”
The people who sit on panel are all very experienced and we are lucky to have some longstanding members, me included. The function of the panel is an important, serious one but the operation of it is friendly, comfortable and open.
I love being on the fostering panel because I am always amazed by the potential and existing carers who come to Eastern Fostering Services. They are a special group of people, committed to the well-being of children, kind, diverse, resourceful and determined. We meet some interesting, unusual people and welcome applicants from all sorts of backgrounds. It restores one’s faith in humanity to meet them and see them in action.
As a panel we have two specific training days a year, these are interesting and often good fun. The people on panel can also join the Eastern Fostering Services training programme in order to learn more about a specific area and to refresh and update one’s knowledge base.
“I have always been impressed by the agency’s commitment to both the carers and to the children in their care.”
Nothing to fear!
I sometimes speak to prospective applicants before they attend panel and they are often wary and anxious. I suppose it can seem intimidating and unfamiliar but I try to remind them that they are planning to do something really important and it is vital that, before they become a fully fledged carer, there is a scrutiny process that is respectful of the thing they are planning to do. What could be more important than offering care to vulnerable children and young people!
I have had the privilege to work for Eastern Fostering Services as a Supervising Social Worker, after having a long career in social services and the NSPCC. I have always been impressed by the agency’s commitment to both the carers and to the children in their care. The agency is good at respecting all the carers individually and the children. They are suitably responsive to them. The well-being of the foster children, and their carers, is at the centre of everything they do.
An added bonus as a panel member is that we are invited to a delicious lunch at Hintlesham Hall to celebrate with other team members and the carers, unfortunately this is only to celebrate at Christmas and not weekly!
If you’re thinking of fostering and want to be a part of a nurturing, supportive fostering community, contact Eastern Fostering Services at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01206 299775, via our website or via Facebook.
We’d love to hear from you!