A fostering & adoption social worker has a highly important role to play.
Below we will consider what your main roles and responsibilities will be if you undertake to follow this extremely important career path.
Your work will be to assess the suitability of families who wish to foster or adopt children.
You will be tasked with finding both short- and long-term fostering placements for children who have been taken into care and wherever appropriate establish permanent new families for those children who, regardless of the reason, cannot return to their home.
These duties involve:
- Recruiting foster carers and those wishing to adopt
- Assessing the suitability of these carers
- Providing ongoing support for the family and child concerned
What type of person does it take?
To succeed in the role of a fostering and adoption social worker you will need specific skills which include the ability to:
- Interact successfully with people of all ages and backgrounds, particularly children.
- Have knowledge and be objective in terms of child protection policies
- Be a good communicator
- Be sensitive and diplomatic in discussions with all concerned
- An ability to understand people and have empathy
- An ability to encourage and build self-confidence in those you are responsible for
What will your working environment be?
Your schedule will be broken down into two distinct areas:
Visiting families in their homes: It is absolutely crucial that only those families who are capable of looking after a child in need of fostering or adoption are given such an important responsibility.
This means that you will spend a good deal of your time visiting the homes of prospective parents to assess suitability.
You will need to investigate and understand their personal qualities and skills with regard to caring for children who, through no fault of their own may have suffered greatly.
As well as assessing the parents and any other family members concerned you will see if the home is suitable for children. This will include such things as available space and discussions on general health and hygiene issues.
You will also assess whether potential foster parents require additional equipment (cots, beds, pushchairs, car seats, additional furniture etc.) if so, this must also be highlighted in your reports.
Interviews which take place with prospective parents will cover such things as family history and family relationships, education, details of their own parents and any experience they have in terms of child care.
The greater the detail you can establish, the clearer it will become as to the suitability of these families to provide a secure, safe environment to help the child in question achieve a normal, happy future.
Office environment: As well as writing up your assessments on a case by case basis you will investigate the family history through statutory checks with authorities that include the police, Department of Health, the NSPCC, probation and education services.
You will also liaise closely with the child’s social worker and any other professionals involved in their care.
Professionalism, patience, reward:
The decision on whether a family are suitable for fostering or adopting a child is one that requires professionalism, empathy and patience.
The assessment of potential parents can take between 4-6 months with frequent visits to homes both during the assessment and while the child is under the family care.
The reward in terms of giving a child a new, healthy and happy start in life is a major reason that many fostering and adoption social workers quite rightly see this as an extremely fulfilling role.