Welcome to the first of a series of regular blogs called Fostering Essentials written by Alun Richards, advice and information coordinator for Fosterline Wales.
The information is compiled with help from Alun's colleagues on the advice line: Sara Evans, Rebecca Holland and Jasmin Thorn.
Q & A about Alun
How long have you been working on Fosterline Wales?
I’ve worked for Fosterline Wales for almost 10 years. The advice line took its first call in June 2006.
What does being an information and advice coordinator involve?
I make sure that Fosterline Wales is always available and responsive and able to reply to enquiries. We have regular contact via phone and email from a variety of groups most commonly foster carers and social workers but also relatives of looked after children and members of the public interested in becoming foster carers.
Why did you want to get involved with Fosterline Wales?
I have been an acting fostering manager and independent reviewing manager in social services which has given me a deep knowledge of how social services work and why, sometimes, they do not operate as they should. My experience has also led me to have a great respect and admiration for foster carers, so when the opportunity arose to be involved with Fosterline wales I was pleased to be able to be of practical help using my existing knowledge and skills.
What is the best part of the job?
Giving foster carers confidence that they are doing a good job and attempting to empower them to carry on even if they are facing tough challenges. Being an advocate for foster carers is something I enjoy.
What are the most common issues people call you about?
Questions about allegations, allowances, tax and national insurance are among the most common issues we tackle. A lot of the time my colleagues and I are able to view what can be highly emotional situations from a more objective standpoint in order to offer professional and practical solutions.
Advice in the event of an allegation
Facing an allegation is something that some foster carers will unfortunately experience during their fostering career. It can be an extremely distressing time for everyone involved. In this blog post I have outlined five things I feel are important for you to do if you ever face an allegation.
1. If you are informed of an allegation by social services, record all the details and then, if you live in Wales, ring Fosterline Wales for advice and support on 0800 316 7664 (free from a UK landline or mobile) 9.30am-12.30pm Monday-Friday. If you live elsewhere in the UK, other helplines are available.
2. Ask your agency support worker or fostering manager to confirm a contract for an independent support service (ISS) for you. This is set out in the National Minimum Standards (Wales) 2003. The Fostering Network Wales staff are able to arrange for an ISS. You can contact them on 0292044 0940.
3. If you are a member of The Fostering Network, ring our 24/7 legal advice line on 0345 013 5004 to inform them of the information you have to date.
4. If you are contacted by the police for an interview at the police station, take the name and telephone number of the police office and respond ‘I will attend the interview with my solicitor’. Then ring The Fostering Network Legal Advice Line on 0345 013 5004 and a solicitor will arrange a time with the police for you and the solicitor to attend the interview.
5. Read the Signpost in Fostering: Allegations booklet available here.
For more information about allegations please see the specific advice on our website.
In addition to Fosterline Wales we also have helplines in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland which provide information and guidance on all issues affecting foster carers and fostering services.