The Nexus Fostering Mentor Scheme - How we support our foster carers from the very beginning.
15 December 2023
15 December 2023
We caught up with Jenny, who runs our Nexus Fostering Mentor Scheme. A mentor scheme dedicated to supporting our foster carers in the assessment process from the beginning of their fostering journey to their first year as foster carers, which provides more 1-1 support to help you gain the skills you need for being a foster carer.
What is Nexus’ mentoring scheme?
We introduce mentoring during the assessment period for all applicants at the halfway point of their assessment with us. The purpose is to add an extra layer of support and information alongside the time an applicant will spend with their assessor talking and learning more about fostering. Being linked with a mentor who is already fostering with Nexus Fostering helps applicants to build a picture of a ‘day in the life’ of a foster carer and perhaps ask questions and share any worries or questions they might have about how fostering children and young people might impact themselves and their families.
Who are our mentors?
All of our mentors are experienced foster carers with knowledge and skills to share with applicants who are at the start of their fostering journey or might have fostered previously but are new to Nexus Fostering. We have mentors in each of our area teams across the country, and they reflect the diversity of our fostering families (and the children they care for). Each brings individual strengths, experiences, and specialist knowledge to the role. Our mentors have a shared passion for passing their experience on and providing support in a way that they might have benefited from themselves starting out as foster carers.
Mentoring others is a great way for experienced foster carers to continue their professional development. We work with our area teams continuously to identify foster carers who would enjoy providing this support and are available and motivated to join the mentoring scheme.
How does mentoring work?
We will match applicants carefully to a mentor based on information we have from an assessor (and the team supporting them), and we will also ask the applicant what they would find helpful when we meet to talk more about the scheme as part of our midway review of an assessment. An applicant may have a particular area of interest, for example, offering parent and child placements. In this case, we would link an applicant with a mentor who has experience in offering these placements and can share their experiences. Another example might be where an applicant will be fostering alongside their own birth children and would benefit from meeting with a mentor who is also parenting alongside fostering.
We ask that mentors contact an applicant and meet twice in the second half of their assessment before an applicant’s completed assessment is presented to the panel. This support can be provided either face-to-face or online, or over the phone. The applicant and mentor might also check in between these meetings via message or call.
How long does mentoring last?
We hope mentors can maintain their link with an applicant through the panel process and remain involved for the first year of fostering for a newly approved foster carer. There are several ‘firsts’ for new foster carers, such as a first support group or training, first placement, and first annual carer review. All approved foster carers are allocated a Supervising Social Worker, who will become their primary source of advice, support, and supervision as a foster carer. The mentor would be a familiar person to check in and supplement this support in any way that feels helpful for a foster carer navigating their new role as a foster carer. One newly approved foster carer gave the following feedback about her mentor: “During my assessment, I was lucky to have the availability of another experienced foster carer to be my mentor. It was good to have questions answered and real-life experiences from another side of Nexus Fostering. I appreciate the carer taking the time to do that.” (Angela)
Who do I talk to if I want to know more about the scheme or have questions about a mentoring link I am a part of?
My name is Jenny Beacham, and I am an Assessment Coordinator at Nexus Fostering. I work with the Nexus Fostering Assessment Manager to oversee and support assessments for applicants hoping to foster with us. I am responsible for the mentoring scheme and ensuring this is in place for all applicants from the midway point of their assessment and beyond. I am always happy to answer questions or support both applicants and mentors to ensure everyone gets the most out of the available mentoring support.
If you want to start your fostering career with us and have the mentor scheme for extra support, get in touch with us to have an informal chat - Contact Us | Nexus Fostering
15 December 2023