Support and supervision
As a foster carer, you are part of a team and can expect to take part in training and receive supervision and support.
The support we offer begins with the moment you contact us.
The Recruitment and Assessment pod will welcome you and work collaboratively to offer you the best opportunity to become a foster carer.
You will come in contact with the team via telephone, through attending an information session or through your initial home visit. During this time we will find out more about you and answer your questions.
When we agree it is the right time to progress your enquiry, we will ask you to complete an official application form. When you receive this, you will be allocated an assessing social worker and your assessment will begin.
The process from application to approval should be completed in 8 months. During this time you will be asked to complete our pre approval Skills to Foster training as part of your assessment.
Your assessing social worker will support you throughout this process and will be your main point of contact to answer any questions or queries you may have. They will also signpost you to additional support if needed.
This forms part of becoming a mainstream foster carer or a connected carer.
When you have been approved to begin your fostering career, you transfer to the Support and Supervision pod.
To ensure you and your family feel supported, informed and guided, you are allocated a supervising social worker and a child social care worker.
They will be able to answer your questions, give you direction and talk with you to support your fostering. This will include telephone support from members of the fostering team in the evening, over weekends and during bank holidays.
As a foster carer you will work closely with Swindon Borough’s Virtual school, CLA Health Team, the children’s social work teams and the Emergency Duty team.
We offer local, easy to access support including training, local support groups, specialised support groups (New Carers, Connected Carers, Men’s Group) and clubs for birth children.
Our foster carers also offer a significant source of support and connection for each other. Being a foster carer is a role like no other and we have found many of our foster carers form very close friendships and support networks due to sharing the same unique experiences.
Each member of the Fostering team plays a role in making sure you are receiving the support and guidance you will need as a family.
Recruitment and retention officer
This person contacts you to arrange your induction meeting. At this meeting you will be introduced to the team members you will work closest with.
Supervising social worker
This person's main job is to support you in your fostering journey and to ensure you know and understand the importance of your responsibilities. This includes keeping in frequent contact with you and your family and the children you look after.
They will also ensure you are receiving adequate support, information, advice and training from other professionals, ensuring you provide quality care to the child or children you foster.
Child social worker
Once you have a child placed with you, their social worker will become a part of the team you work with. You will work collaboratively to help the child thrive though good communication, information sharing and compliance with the regulations and processes in which we work.
Children’s social care worker
This person provides additional support to you and your family. They will arrange to visit you and guide you and your family in the good practices we follow. This includes offering individual and/or group support for your children.
This person is in regular contact to make sure you know which courses are available and how to access them. Our extensive training package includes six mandatory courses as well as a wide variety of additional training to support you in developing your role as a professional carer.
Our goal as a fostering team is to establish a positive working relationship, ensuring we understand you and your family as carers.
This will enable us to work with you to give you the right support – thinking about your emotional, social, practical and physical needs and wellbeing.
We will also:
- ensure we work together to give you the tools you need to further develop your skills
- recognise that people’s needs change over time and so we work collaboratively with our carers to offer the right range of support at the right time. Some of the specific support on offer may include availability of respite care, day care, therapeutic training, and individual contact with a children’s social care worker
- ensure foster carers are in regular contact with dedicated health and education professionals who work specifically with looked after children
- offer a competitive package of financial support
- offer 24-hour support, so there will always be someone available on the end of the telephone no matter the time of day or night
- ensure you have your own network of local foster carers who are encouraged to meet regularly, develop friendships, share experiences and support each other
- match new carers with a more experienced foster carer ‘buddy’, who will provide additional guidance and support
- plan regular, locally-based events and activities for carers, their families, and looked after children
- work closely with our local Swindon Foster Carers Association, who have regular meetings and organise regular trips and events, as well as providing access to heavily subsidised holiday accommodation
- pay for all foster carers to be members of The Fostering Network, where they can access independent advice and support
Fostering support groups, which are attended by both foster carers and staff from the fostering team, provide an opportunity to get together, have fun, support each other, and to share knowledge and experience to benefit each other.
There are opportunities to discuss issues and topics decided by the group, which can include inviting guest speakers with specialist knowledge.
Support groups offer an opportunity to build positive working relationships with other foster carers and the wider fostering team.
Support groups are organised regularly throughout the year. In order to accommodate carers’ wide-ranging needs, they are run both during the day and in the evenings.
The variety of groups on offer include:
- General fostering – a group available to all foster carers
- New foster carers – a group supporting foster carers in their first year
- Walk and talk – a group that provides exercise along with a chat
- Connected carers – a group that explores the unique challenges experienced by connected foster carers
- Men who foster – a group run by men, for men
- PACE – a group that focuses on how carers can embed PACE therapeutic parenting techniques in their day to day fostering
- Kids united – a group for children who are part of a fostering household, aged 8 to 11
- Inspiring youths – a group for children who are part of a fostering household, aged 12 to 17
All foster carers are expected to attend a minimum of three support group sessions per year.
The Swindon fostering team works alongside the Swindon Foster Care Association, who also organise regular events and activities for foster carers and their families.
Contact the team to tell us you're interested. It's just a chat to start with.