The morning begins with coffee whilst checking emails, website chat log and social media, to see if any new fostering applicants have contacted us since the office closed the previous evening. The enquiries can be varied, from people with no knowledge of what fostering is or whether they are suitable, some wanting to know the difference between adoption and fostering, and some are general queries about ages of children that need fostering or if you can take children on holiday with you. Some enquiries are just bizarre including people wanting to foster dogs or wanting a foster child to share a room with their elderly grandfather!
All our enquiries are logged securely on our database. I then spend the morning contacting the applicants for a general chat about fostering and to explain the process of becoming a foster carer, and of course to find a bit more about them and their suitability. We also email the applicants an information brochure (hopefully saving a few trees this way).
This morning I had several enquiries to follow up. Firstly, I call a lady however it turns out that she is wanting to foster their niece. I explained to them that is not regular fostering but known as kinship or connected persons care and directed them to their local council and a helpful website for kinship carers.
The second enquiry was from someone who only had interest in how much fostering allowance they would get per child and how many foster children you can fit in a room. Unfortunately, this is all too common, and I am sure that it is just sometimes people not really understanding how it sounds (that they may be only interested in financially benefitting)! I did try (without success) to discuss further about the needs of foster children with this applicant, however, as we would only be looking at recruiting foster carers that have a genuine interest in helping children and young people, the person’s interest did not go any further.
The third enquiry was a young couple with their own toddler son. After a discussion with them to find out about their experience of caring for or working with children, as well as their work commitments and local support network, the applicants asked for a call back later in the week after they had read through the brochure. They wanted to have further time to consider if they would be happy to care for older children including teenagers, as this is age range is one of the biggest requirements in fostering at present.
Just got back to my desk after making cups of coffee for the team, when I took a phone call from an enquirer that I had spoken to the previous week. This couple now feel ready to book in their initial home visit. I contacted the team manager in the region that they live in to arrange for them to book in directly with the couple. I was really pleased that they had come back to me, as I really liked the applicant and think she (I had not yet spoken with her partner) has a great attitude towards supporting children.
Several unsuccessful calls made to people who had left their details for a call back but never answer their phones! I also emailed several enquirers who had not left their phone numbers when they enquired. We get so many people that leave their details, but do not hear back from them when we try to contact them. Maybe in the period since they have left their details they have managed to scare themselves off from talking to us. I don’t bite honest and they don’t have to be ready to go forward immediately to start exploring. If you don’t ask you don’t know!
Time for lunch! Although I must be mindful that often enquirers use our website chat facility in their lunchbreak to ask questions about fostering, so it can get busy.
Just about finished my yogurt when received a call from one of our foster carers. She had been speaking to a mum at her son’s school who was interested in fostering. She passed on the lady’s details for a call tomorrow morning.
First job of the afternoon is to input the contact details that were taken by my colleagues who had held an information event/coffee morning about fostering in their regional office. Enquirers had been nicely filled up with hot beverages/cakes and taken home information leaflets etc. I put in a diary reminder to give all the enquirers a call the following week to see if they have any further questions about fostering etc.
I received a call from a man that I had left a message for earlier today. He asked if he is eligible to foster as he is in a same-sex relationship. I advised him that he could, but unfortunately on further discussion they were not yet in a position apply as they need to move to a larger property with a spare bedroom. I emailed him a brochure and made dairy reminder to give them a call back in 3 months to see if they had moved.
I then followed up with my colleagues who had been allocated home visits for new enquirers to see how the visits went or if there were any issues getting the visits booked in. I was advised that (following this week’s recruitment committee meeting) there had been some really positive home visits, and that we would be inviting their applications to foster with UKF. I then contacted the applicants to advise them that we would be looking forward to receiving their application forms.
Coffee arrives as I make further calls to applicants that we had emailed or posted application forms to, to see if they needed any help or clarification on the completion of the forms. Everyone was struggling with who to put as their 3 personal referees!
Live chat came in via our website and I had a good conversation with them about the requirements of fostering. They did not want me to call them just then as they were at work, but I emailed them a brochure and arranged to call them back after 5pm to discuss further.
More phone calls, more live chats, an application form arrives online, a message on Facebook responded to, more brochures emailed, another home visit booked …. another busy day in the life of a foster carer recruitment officer!