Michelle, who is running our Foster Carer Retention project is aiming to find out why foster carers stop fostering and what can be done to address some of the common factors behind the decison to leave the role.
Our Foster Carer Retention project is progressing very well. It is hard to believe that we are almost half way through. We are learning a great deal about how foster carers view the exit interview process, and how the themes and reasons for foster carers leaving fostering can also impact on carers who continue.
I have been visiting our partner services – Leicester City Council, Birmingham Children’s Trust, AFA Fostering, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and West Sussex County Council – over the past few months and talking to foster carers during focus groups. We have also been discussing important aspects of the exit interview process with Central Bedfordshire Council. The opinions and experiences that are being shared are so valuable, adding to our understanding of the challenges that foster carers face and the support networks, tools and strategies they use to overcome these challenges and continue to foster.
We have recently surveyed members of the general public about their experiences and opinions relating to exit interviews, and we were inundated with information that we will utilise to ensure our toolkit is robust and sustainable. One issue that was raised many times is that, in general, exit interviews should be carried out by someone who is, or was, not the leaver’s direct supervisor or manager. It was felt that more honest and helpful feedback would be gained by the company if the interviewer was someone other than a direct colleague.
An important aspect of our research so far is that our partner services are gaining insight into their foster carers’ experiences, which will help them to develop their offering to aid retention in the future. An important issue that has been raised many times, during my conversations with foster carers, is that they feel enabled to continue fostering when their supervising social worker shows empathy and understanding for the tremendous amount of pressure that they are sometimes under.
Foster carer survey about exit interviews
Our next step is to survey foster carers about their experiences and opinions of exit interviews, and the challenging aspects of fostering. If you are a foster carer and would like to take part, please take the survey today. Your responses will help us to understand about existing exit interview processes and develop more effective practices. Please share the survey far and wide with foster carer colleagues, groups and friends who foster so that as many people can respond as possible. It will close at the end of October.
This Autumn will see the design and creation stage of the toolkit. If you have any ideas that you would like to share please do so in the survey or email me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks to everyone who has been in touch, taken part, shared social media posts and been so enthusiastic about the project.