Each year we receive thousands of referrals from local authorities looking to find foster carers for vulnerable children and young people across Scotland.
We sit down with Kathryn, a member of our dedicated Referrals team to find out more about how each child or young person in care is matched with a suitable foster family.
Kathryn has worked in the FCA Scotland Referral Team for almost 17 years, and over that time she’s built strong relationships with our foster carers, getting to know them more to understand their skills and experiences to ensure the right match and the best outcomes for the child and foster family.
What are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibility is taking referrals from local authorities across Scotland and I have a role in matching the children and young people referred to suitable foster families. The Referrals Team have strong communication with our Social Workers, therefore I have a good knowledge of all of our vacancies - whether they be immediate or upcoming and of our carers’ matching considerations and skills.
Some of our referrals are for same day emergency placements so I’m sure you can imagine that this means it’s all hands on deck at times. Local authorities are obviously looking for a very quick response to these types of referrals so this is where my knowledge of our carer vacancies comes in to practice along with the great communication we have with our Social Workers.
Another role I have is overseeing carer training compliance and assisting carers with any training or learning queries they may have. This again can be varied and can range from holding drop-ins at our offices, running reports on mandatory training compliance, to talking carers through any log in issues they may be having.
Overseeing carer training ties in with my main role really well as it gives me an overview of the training courses that carers have completed, which then allows me to communicate this to our local authorities to ensure a success match.
Have you seen a high demand for certain placements?
During my time with FCAS there has always been high demand for sibling placements, which at times can be more difficult to accommodate as carers require more than one bedroom. We strive to place siblings together where appropriate. There are also a large number of teenagers referred to us and I would say overall the average age of referrals for children/young people is 11 years old.
What happens once a foster carer has been approved?
Once a carer household is approved at Panel, they meet the Referrals Team again at their induction. This has obviously been done on Teams over the past year and often a dog makes an appearance, which is always amusing! We go over our team’s roles/responsibilities, types of referrals, respite process and also an overview of the learning and support systems.
Their profile is emailed to local authorities advising of their vacancy and the carers are good to go!
How has Covid impacted the process?
One of the things that has changed since lockdown is the need for more planned placements, which has been an adjustment from 95% of referrals being required same day. It has been good however; as it’s meant there can be introductions between the child and carers prior to placement.
A big transition has been the move the all virtual communication, with all meetings being held on Teams over the last year. This has been an adventure and learning curve for all involved - I hear echoes of “you’re on mute!” in my sleep.
Can you tell us about a recent successful matching?
We recently placed a young boy with our carers with the view to it becoming a long-term placement. There was a lot of planning around it, with the child’s previous carer even being introduced to our carers to discuss routines etc. During one of the introductory overnights the young person went shopping with the carers to pick things for his new bedroom, he had a great time and didn’t want to leave.
If you can offer a vulnerable child or young person a loving and stable home, please do get in touch with our team today.
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