101 Foster Care Tips: Paperwork in Foster Care
Welcome to the penultimate instalment of our 101 foster care tips series where we have explored and investigated many different aspects of the fostering journey over the past few weeks.
In this week’s instalment we’ll be taking a closer look at the importance of paperwork in foster care. While we understand that many foster carers may not realise the significance of daily record keeping during a fostering placement, especially when you’re extremely busy looking after a child or young person, it’s actually an essential part of being a foster carer, to which it also plays a supportive role in the development of every foster child.
More specifically, detailed and regularly updated documents help to maintain a constant picture of a child’s history by providing a level of continuity if a social worker changes or ever becomes unavailable. In addition to this, record keeping also helps to protect you as a foster carer from any potential allegations, as well as acting as a fantastic training resource where you’ll be able to reflect upon your experiences as a foster carer.
Not only should you aim to keep track of their progress in a daily record, you should ensure any specific incidents, events or behavioural changes are also documented. According to The Fostering Network, every foster carer should spend at least 5 – 10 minutes (per child) each day recording details of their day-to-day activity and progress. This is certainly a point that is reiterated by Joanne, our fostering services manager, to which ‘completing daily paperwork duties will help you reflect upon each day as a foster carer’.
Furthermore, Joanne also stresses the importance of daily record keeping as ‘it can be used for many things, from planning for the child and helping to contribute to our development as a foster agency’.
What do the members of our fostering community have to say about the role of paperwork in foster care?
“It’s really helpful if you stay on top of your reports, as it is much easier to do when things are fresh in your mind.” – Elaine G
“It can be really helpful as you can spot patterns of behaviour, and if something significant happens more than once you can look back and see what could have triggered that behaviour.” – Cathryn
“Make sure you put things down, even if they don’t seem that significant. If they complain about being ill, you can look back and tell the doctor when they first started those symptoms. It also covers yourself. If anything happens, or an accusation is made, you then have a record of exactly what happened to build up to that.” – Elaine G
“Time can be limited but you want to set aside time once a week otherwise you will be left wracking your brain about what happened weeks before – and that can be hard to do.” – Alison
“With the young children it can feel like a bit of a chore to fill in the weekly report as not that much changes and you do feel like you are repeating yourself. But I do love looking back at them and seeing their achievements – when they got a certificate for this or that.” – Cathie
“I don’t see it as a chore as it’s really great to look back on. It helps you remember what has gone before and see how things have changed. I tell my own kids that I wished I had done the same for them.” – Cathryn
Regardless of your experience as a foster carer, we always recommend that you use plain and simple language whenever you’re completing paperwork. Once the foster placement finishes, or if the child moves on, all documents will need to be passed back to your supervising social worker.
For more information about when you to complete your paperwork and what details you need to include, get in touch with a member of our dedicated and experienced support team today.
Make sure you join us next week for our final instalment of the 101 foster care tips series. We’ll be taking a closer look at how you still need to consider your needs whenever you’re fostering.