A day in the life of Supervising Social Worker Collette
Here at Unity Foster Care, our team are dedicated to providing excellent support for foster carers. One such team member is Supervising Social Worker Collette, who is responsible for ensuring foster carers feel supported in their role.
We sat down with Collette to find out more about what a typical working day for her involves…
Can you please tell us about yourself?
My name is Collette; I’m 54 years old and a mum of two. I’ve worked as a Unity Foster Care Supervising Social Worker for just over six years, and prior to this, I worked in child protection for Bradford Local Authority. I also have experience as a family support worker, working on community projects, and supporting homeless women with managing drug and alcohol issues. I’ve always been personable and keen to support people who are struggling; that’s why I decided to pursue a degree in social work, specialising in the children and family area.
Can you tell us more about what your role involves?
My role is to supervise foster carers who offer care to looked after children in their care. This involves making sure foster carers feel supported, as well as ensuring they’re attending training sessions and meeting the needs of the young person in their care. I visit foster carers at their homes monthly, or more often if needed, keeping in regular contact via telephone. I also support with the delivery of ‘Skills to Fostering’ workshops, aimed at impending foster carers, and fulfil my on-call duties. When I’m on-call, my phone is switched on 24/7 to respond to crisis situations and offer additional support. Calls can come from carers or local authorities needing to place children in our care.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My day really does vary, but I usually start by checking emails and my phone. Then, I might have a supervision with a foster carer. During this supervision home visit, I make sure they’ve completed what they should in terms of training and carer logs. We also discuss any issues the foster household might be having. We talk about their home life, how they feel the month has gone, and we also discuss the foster child’s progress.
We also have child looked after reviews usually every six months. Other meetings can include personal education plan meetings, care planning meetings, and annual reviews. For the big, yearly reviews, I complete a report about the foster carer’s year, making sure all supporting evidence is available. After reading my report, the Independent Reviewing Officer may also visit the house with me. Every carer has an annual review, with a physical Panel taking place after their first year and fifth year (this happens more regularly if there are any issues that need attention or concerns highlighted surrounding standards of care).
One day a week, I’m on day duty in the office, dealing with matters that might arise. I enjoy a mixture of working from home and in the office. We also support the Unity team with events like the Children’s Achievement Awards in October, so things can get busy!
What is your favourite thing about your job?
It’s hard to choose just one favourite thing! I enjoy being given autonomy within my role. It’s good to know that staff and management are there for support if needed, but I manage my own diary. I also enjoy working with foster carers. Their role can be challenging, but they do an amazing job! I was especially impressed with the foster carers and foster children during the pandemic. They all really stepped up to the mark. It’s lovely to build up a positive, professional relationship with the foster carers. I’ve known some of them for five years plus!
What’s the most challenging thing about your role?
The most challenging thing is the amount of paperwork, and sometimes matters that arise from supporting foster carers can come with its difficulties.
Any positive stories to share?
All my carers do an amazing job. For example, one family cares for birth children, adopted children, children on Special Guardianship Orders (SGO), and children looked after (CLA)- all within the same household! I also have carers who have looked after a child with complex health needs since her birth, as well as carers who have supported a sibling group from being fostered to being adopted by their foster family. Fostering can be an extremely challenging role, which is why I have so much respect and admiration for all my foster carers- who are doing amazingly well.
Do you have advice for someone considering fostering?
Fostering is an amazing role, but it should be a family decision. We call it a fostering household because everyone will be impacted. It’s extremely rewarding and many of my foster carers love it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m not working, I enjoy walking, gardening, going out for meals, and connecting with my family and friends.
Could you make a difference to the lives of children and young people in your area?