We know what it is like when you first start, there are so many key roles of people and institutions, which feel like they are never-ending! Add on top of that all of the new terminology and phrases into the mix and it can really feel quite overwhelming. But fear not!
Here are the key roles of people and institutions you may come into contact with during your fostering journey and a short explanation of what they do and when you may come into contact with them. As always, our job is to equip you with the knowledge you need, we hope this list of key roles will be helpful!
Advocates are a key role which can offer advice and support to a child or young person. The main purpose of a child advocate is to enable children to express their wishes and feelings. The aim of child advocacy is to encourage the empowerment of children and uphold their human rights. CORAM have pulled together a great article on the role of an advocate for foster children, you can see it here; what is an advocate?
Guardians are a key role appointed by the court to represent the rights and interests of children in cases that involve social services. Their role is to advise the court on what they think is best for the child.
Your foster child’s social worker represents the local authority in its role as a “corporate parent”. They hold statutory case responsibility regarding planning and decision-making for your foster child but do so in consultation and agreement with other professionals including their own management. Their main concern and priority are the welfare, safety and progress of your foster child.
This key role includes teachers, pastoral support, designated teachers for looked after children, virtual schools team, designated school safeguarding officers and educational psychologists. These professionals all work together as part of the wider team of professionals around the child with a focus on educational objectives and outcomes. This also includes ensuring that your foster child is in the best educational setting for them and has access to any additional support or resources as needed.
This includes both physical and mental health professionals. This key role could include doctors, dentists, opticians, consultants, specialists and therapists. Your foster child’s health care needs will be detailed in their Placement Plan (or Placement Agreement) and Medical Assessment. Your foster child will need your support in getting to and from appointments and you will likely need to be present during appointments to support your child and answer any questions from health staff.
An Independent Visitor (IV) is an adult volunteer who befriends and develops a long-term friendship with a young person in care. This can involve helping young people develop new interests, skills and hobbies or going on outings such as to the cinema, bowling or just a walk in the park. The volunteers are called ‘Independent Visitors’ because they are truly ‘independent’ people outside the care system giving the young person continuity.
SSWs are the key role allocated to foster parents to offer guidance and support and also to ensure that foster children are receiving appropriate standards of care. Your SSW will talk to you about your foster child’s progress, the impact of fostering on your household, any support or information you may need, as well as your learning and development needs. They will meet with you monthly and speak to you regularly by phone or video.
Mosaic therapists undertake trauma-based assessments on all children placed in our care. These assessments provide recommendations on how to best address the immediate and long-term needs of your foster child including trauma recovery and parenting strategies. Our therapists also provide foster parents with clinical supervision and reflection and undertake direct work with children where agreed. You may also have involvement from a therapist outside of Mosaic depending on the approach required for your foster child.
We hope this list of key roles has helped to explain what some of the people around you do and how they are there to help. Heard of a key role, not on this list? Send us a message so we can help further!
If you are interested in fostering and need any area of the process explained to you, please get in touch and one of our team will be more than happy to have a chat with you.