I feel that social workers, especially those in child services, get quite a bad rep. I think that some people actually fear them. They seem to be synonymous with children being taken away, almost like child snatchers, and I think that, previously, before fostering, if someone had told me I would have a social worker attached to my family then I would probably have the same fears. Am I feeding my children enough veg? Do I shout too much? Should I really be having that glass of wine on a Wednesday evening? These are all questions which I think I would have had if I had been assigned a social worker prior to fostering. However, the last two years (assessment and actual placement time) have shown that social workers are nothing but angels in disguise. In particular, my supervising social worker, Zoe.
In my opinion, Zoe is a ‘salt of the earth’ type of person. One of those people that could chat to anyone, puts everyone at ease and most importantly, she doesn’t judge. I share everything with Zoe. But only because she allows me to. I don’t feel like I need to have all my s**t together all the time. I don’t need to pretend that this isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I know that she thinks I am doing a good job. Because she tells me. I see and speak to her every two weeks and she is there to represent my family. To look after our best interests. And in between discussing care plans, health and safety issues and EHCP referrals we share holiday tips, permanent make up advice and stories about our children. She has this ability to put me at ease when I am worried about something and, over the time we have spent together, she has picked up nuances about my personality, adapting her practice to suit my needs. And I can guarantee, that without a doubt, she does the same for all of her families.
As a parent, I’m pretty sure everyone, at times, feels judged. As a foster parent, I feel like I am under the spotlight the whole time. I take my job seriously and with that comes a lot of pressure I put on myself. Zoe relieves some of that. Not only does she tell me I’m doing a good job but she takes some of that pressure away. She will go out of her way to follow up on a phone call or call me out of hours if she knows I’m going to find a day difficult. She understands if I haven’t completed a piece of paperwork within 24 hours of receiving it and she backs me to hilt in all professional meetings. She is my reprieve, when we sit and drink coffee (hers full of sweetener) and basically, put the world to rights, every fortnight.
I know, having spoken to other carers from different agencies or who work for the council that not every social worker is like Zoe. Not every social worker is a professional, a therapist, an advocate, a voice of reason and above all, a fantastic ear to talk to. And I know I’m lucky, very lucky.