May marks Foster Care Fortnight (10 – 23 May), a UK based awareness raising campaign, led by The Fostering Network, to celebrate the work of foster carers and the fostering services set up to support them.
Jenna Kovacs is a Fostering Social Worker for Together for Children in Sunderland. Here she talks about her role in supporting foster families and why she loves being part of a carer’s fostering journey.
Every day is different in fostering!
A social worker for 9 years, I’ve spent the last 4 working in fostering and every day is different. I can be busy doing supervisory visits to my fostering families, completing initial visits and phone calls to people interested in fostering, or undertaking assessment work for prospective carers. I also run recruitment events and certain training courses, as well as sitting on the Together for Children’s fostering panel. My emails and phone are always pinging away, and there’s always a case note or several to type up.
I love seeing the progress of foster carers
I have an amazing role at Together for Children - I get to be one of the first members of staff that prospective carers have contact with at the start of their fostering journey. It’s so important to make sure that new enquirers understand the role they are taking on and feel supported to make their first steps into (hopefully) a long and enjoyable time fostering.
As a panel member, I get to see how far our carers come during the 4-to-6-month assessment process when they come for approval, then share in their successes when they come back again for their first annual review.
At Together for Children, social workers usually continue to supervise the carers that they assess. This means they have built a relationship with them; they have a good idea of the carer’s background and the knowledge needed to support them and the children in their home. I’ve been supervising most of my carers either since I joined Together for Children in 2018, or since I assessed them thereafter. I love seeing the progress they make as foster carers, as well as seeing the children they care for grow up and flourish.
It’s a real skill to be able to manage the rough with the smooth in fostering
Nothing can beat the times when you get it right for a carer or a child you’re working with. From finding the right home for a child who needs help to regulate their emotions, to having a really positive annual fostering review with a carer.
Not every day is full of sunshine though, and sometimes I’m working with my foster families through incredibly hard times, such as when they realise their home is no longer a good fit for a child, or when an allegation has been made.
The challenges you’ll face in fostering aren’t fewer or easier to work through than those in other children’s social work teams; they’re just different
I can’t imagine doing another job where I’m not involved in helping children and families. I’ve had friends in social work joke about fostering being where you go before you retire, but that’s not the case! I’m always learning from the foster families I work with and hope they’re picking up a few bits and bobs from me along the way too.