Apparently, until they 'approved' me at my annual review this week, I wasn't a real foster carer - just a probationer! Considering all that's happened over the past year, the idea that I've been on trial for the whole of it gives me a little giggle :)
Anyway, thankfully, I was approved!
I was also asked what the service could do to make my life easier, so I suggested that it would be helpful if the children's social workers could be more available on the phone, and perhaps give me notice of contact plans more than a couple of days in advance.
If a child has a 4-week plan, then to my mind that means that his care team has four weeks to think about what will happen next. So why wait to come up with a plan until the last possible day? And I'm not talking about a full care plan - I know this takes a lot of information gathering. I'm just saying that if a child's contacts are set at certain times for four weeks, why is it so hard to find out what will be happening in the fifth week?
Most of the people on the panel were sympathetic. In fact, one of the representatives turned out to be the manager of the duty team - she wanted to know the names of the social workers involved, which made me feel a little bad.
However, one of representatives had a different suggestion to make. The conversation between us went something like this:
Rep: Wait a minute. How do you commuicate with your supervising social worker? By email?
Rep: And you completed your CWDC online?
Rep (using extremely patronising tone): So, you're obviously computer literate. Why don't you just email the children's social workers instead of phoning if they're so difficult to reach on the phone?
Me (hesitantly): Err . . . I suppose I could do that. I could get their addresses.
Rep: That's right. Send them 5 or 10 emails a day and they won't be able to ignore you then.
Me (dripping with sarcasm): Yes, I'll do that, because between taking care of two toddlers, keeping on top of the house, ferrying kids round to contacts and appointments every day of the week and filling in a daily log, I have plenty of time to sit at my computer sending 5 or 10 emails a day to get information out of people whose job it is to provide that information to me.
I don't respond well to the patronising tone.