Fostering Skills Spotlight: Organisation
As with any career, being organised is part of being a foster carer. The more organised you are, the more relaxed you are and the better you are at caring for young people.
Here are the key ways being organised helps you succeed in your fostering role.
(Importantly, these aren’t unique to fostering, and the skills you’ve developed in previous jobs and in life generally give you the experience and foundation you need.)
1. Have routines in place
Like all children, fostered children need to get to school, go to their activities, do their homework and go to bed on time.
Often young people in care haven’t had a routine before, and having time set aside for homework, getting proper meals and going to bed leads to a major transformation in behaviour and school performance.
Having routines means you’re prepared, the young person knows what to expect – and there’s less stress all around.
When you’re organised, you can react to situations in a way that’s flexible, pragmatic and solution focused. In other words, you feel on top of everything, the young person feels rested and secure – and no one feels like they’re constantly firefighting.
2. Keep detailed daily records
Record keeping is an important part of fostering, and you’re responsible for maintaining a daily log about the child.
It’s not so detailed as recording the number of times the child goes up the stairs! But you do need a balanced, objective account of each day.
As a foster carer, you’re one of many people involved in a young person’s care, including social workers, teachers and healthcare professionals. This means what you learn about the child (and observe him or her doing) is important information for everyone else.
The daily log makes it easy for the supervising social worker to know exactly how the child is doing and to identify trends in behaviour. Everything the young person does – and the behaviours you observe – inform the care plan the social worker puts together. It also helps you keep track of likes and dislikes, such as who the child’s friends are and where they like to hang out.
3. Keep a diary
Young people have hobbies and activities, and as a foster carer you’re responsible for helping them get to swimming and horse riding at the right time.
They (and you) also have many different meetings and appointments. There will be supervision visits with the social worker, health appointments, teacher meetings and possibly contact with family members. You will also have your own training sessions and fostering forums to attend.
You need to keep track of all these and refer easily to past appointments – hence a diary’s important.
4. Know the procedures for special situations
Fostering comes with a series of policies and procedures. These help you manage special situations and keep the young person safe.
For example, if the child gets hurt and has to go to A&E, there’s a procedure you follow. First you phone emergency services. Then you phone us. We liaise with the local authority to keep relevant people informed and to make sure the medical consents you need are in place.
This procedure means that when you arrive at A&E, the young person gets the right treatment quickly – and you have the support you need to answer any questions and take relevant action.
During training and social worker visits, we discuss the procedures with you, and you’ll receive a foster carer handbook to keep at home. In time, you learn the regular procedures by heart so they become second nature. They’re mostly common sense, and mostly involve ringing us to help.
(We’re on hand 24/7 by phone if you have any questions about what to do – you never have to figure things out alone.)
When you’re organised, you’re relaxed in your role as a foster carer
And this means you have the time, energy and headspace to keep the young person (and everyone in your family) happy, safe and secure.
To learn more about what’s involved in becoming a foster carer, download our new Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Foster Carer.