Can assessments be enjoyable?
Joan previously wrote a blog sharing her motivations to become a LiKa foster carer. Today we have invited her to share reflections on her continued experiences of the assessment process after successfully being approved at panel a few weeks ago. Please feel free to start discussions or ask questions in the comment box at the end.
What was your experience of the LiKa fostering assessment process?
The assessment process did not feel rushed. The message was about getting it right for the children coming into our care and ensuring that, as a family, we were able to meet different foster children’s needs. Life is busy for all families with work and children’s activities and commitments, however, the assessor was flexible and once assessment dates were in the diary it was easy to work around, and find the time to meet with her. The assessor met with us as a whole family, as husband and wife and then individually to talk about our family histories. It was interesting to realise how much your past, no matter how happy or difficult, shapes your future.
What has been the most enjoyable part?
The assessment process allowed our own children, support network and extended family to feel just as important as the role my husband and I would play. During the assessment the assessor organised a network meeting which allowed all of our support network and extended family to ask important questions to understand and feel listened to within the assessment, which they then felt part of. This was a key moment for us as we felt our support networks really understood the journey we are on, and how they can best support us as a foster family.
What has been the most challenging?
The assessment challenges your ideas of your own family history and how you as an adult made a conscious decision to change certain elements. The assessor allows you to visibly see the connections and themes within your family tree, which can be challenging to see for the first time. However, the assessment was also able to draw out the strengths that we have as a family, the areas for additional learning to provide a positive experience for a foster child.
Did any learning take place during the process?
We learnt how your own life experiences, both joyful and painful will bring real strengths as a prospective foster carer. The assessment process helped us all reflect on our journeys as individuals and as a family. It also helped us learn how your own struggles in life can actually assist your ability to connect and understand that of a future foster child.
My own children had their own rather negative view of children placed in foster care, particularly teenagers. The assessment process was able to guide their own thinking and help them reflect on those views. They also had their own training day, which they really enjoyed. They were not told that their views were wrong but were instead allowed to show empathy for some of the difficulties a looked after children may face coming into a new family.
The assessment also helped us as a family to look at our own house rules and what would need to change, allowing flexibility with a new child to the family and changes that we as a family would need to make to keep ourselves safe and respect each other’s privacy.
Anything you would want potential foster carers know about the process?
The assessment is reflective and analytical and will cover all aspects of your life. The LiKa assessment process was thorough, but it wasn’t just about obtaining the facts, it felt therapeutic and challenged all of us in different ways in terms of our childhood memories, family stories and relationships. I believe we developed as a family from this process. It has given us a clear identity as we realised that we are not just ‘foster carers’, we are a ‘foster family’.
It’s six months since the fostering assessment began and we have now been to panel and successfully approved to care for 5-18 year olds. We are all looking forward to meeting our first foster child.
It’s a challenging but worthwhile. I would encourage you to go for it!