Fostering involves a LOT of paperwork.
- To start with, we had to complete an initial application form to apply to become foster carers.
- We then had to return a form, once invited to attend the Skills to Foster training, to confirm that we still wanted to go.
- We completed activities and case studies every week for six weeks, plus filled in our 217-page workbook.
- At the end of the training, we filled in a form about our experiences and what we'd learned.
- We filled in a form about Lady - what training she's had, where she sleeps, when she's exercised etc.
- We drew an eco map detailing our support network.
- We wrote out our family trees.
- We wrote a detailed description of our local area.
- We then spent three months with Jane visiting our home every couple of weeks, talking through and completing what was to become our "Form F" - this ended up being 91 pages without the references (as we weren't allowed to see them - there were two employer references, one past partner reference, two personal references and two family references, and each of those involved the person filling in a form, speaking to Jane on the phone, and then signing off a summary of the discussion.)
- We filled in an enhanced CRB form, which involved looking up every address we've lived at since birth - for me that was 25 different addresses!
- We completed a "Safer Caring" policy for our home.
- We chased our medical reports from our GP.
- We wrote to our landlords to request a letter confirming they weren't intending to sell the house from under us.
- We filled in a form to confirm our bank details for fostering allowance payments.
- We created various spreadsheets to track purchases we've made, detailing our set-up costs.
- We read through and made notes on two full drafts of the Form F before it was submitted to Panel.
We have to have a meeting with Jane to sign various agreements and charters.
Once a foster placement arrives, the paperwork steps up another notch. For every child or baby who lives with us, for however long that might be, we will need to complete (this is not an exhaustive list):
- A placement plan - this is several pages long and contains all the child's details, times of agreed contact with birth family, likes/dislikes, medications, education etc.
- Care plan
- Child-specific Safer Caring policy
- Daily recording sheets detailing anything significant the child has done, achieved or said that day, or any behaviours they've had.
- Fortnightly expenditure forms.
- Birthday/festival/holiday allowance forms.
- Accident reports.
We will have various meetings, supervision sessions and reviews that we need to prepare for.During the first year that we foster, we have to complete the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) induction standards for foster care. This is a 25-page workbook that we fill in with our Social Care Worker - it's essentially to provide evidence of our skills, knowledge and achievement relating to caring for looked after children and is based on a national minimum benchmark.
We also have to file an annual tax return as we're classed as self-employed.
It looks crazy seeing it all written down!
Coming from working in a fairly "paperless" office where the vast majority of data is held electronically, the amount of paperwork we've come across in the last 6 months of this process has been quite shocking!
Esmeralda thinks the Council should have a policy like Velvet toilet tissue, where they plant three trees for every one that's cut down and turned into forms... Now, where's that comment card..?