Why Building a Good Relationship with Your Foster Agency is Crucial

Why Building a Good Relationship with Your Foster Agency is Crucial

Becoming a foster carer and welcoming children into your home is an incredibly rewarding experience. However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Having the support of a reliable and understanding foster agency can make all the difference. Here’s why building a strong relationship with your agency is so important.

Communication is Key

Open and honest communication with your supervising social worker and other agency staff is the foundation of a good working relationship. Don’t be afraid to voice any concerns, ask questions, or seek advice. The more your agency understands about your situation, the better they can support you. Whether it’s accessing training, financial assistance or just a listening ear, keep those communication channels open.

Make Use of Support Services

Reputable agencies offer invaluable support services for their carers. This could be optional training to help understand a child’s complex needs, counselling sessions to safeguard your own mental health, support groups to connect with other carers, or regular respite to give you a break. Make sure you are aware of and utilise the full range of supports available to you. Taking advantage of these resources prevents burnout.

Collaborate on Goals

When a new child is placed into your care, collaborate with your supervising social worker to understand their situation and establish reasonable goals. Working towards goals as a team results in the best outcomes for the child. As challenges arise, keep agency staff updated so they can modify their expectations and provide better guidance. View your agency as collaborators, not inspectors.

Provide Honest Feedback

As a foster carer, you offer a unique perspective on the care children receive. Your foster agency should regularly ask for honest feedback on their policies, procedures, staff competencies and availability. Providing balanced feedback helps agencies to continually improve the support they provide to carers and children alike. Don’t be afraid to report both positive experiences and areas needing improvement.

Follow Guidelines and Procedures

While things don’t always go smoothly when caring for foster children, it’s vital you follow your agency’s guidelines around incidents, behaviours and disclosures. Likewise, always adhere to annual reviews, monitoring visits and training protocols. When foster carers reliably follow procedures, it builds mutual trust and credibility with agencies. This earns respect which makes seeking help and support much easier.

Show Appreciation

Don’t underestimate how much a simple ‘thank you’ means to hardworking social workers and agency staff. Recognise and show your appreciation when agency employees have supported you, offered you advice or gone above-and-beyond. And remember, a few nice words can also go a long way if you need to bring up issues or lodge complaints down the track.

If you feel the relationship you have with your current foster agency isn’t working, you can transfer to a new agency. The linked page discusses how to transfer foster care agencies if this is something you decide to do.

Fostering is intensely rewarding but it can test even the most patient and compassionate amongst us. Having a great relationship with supportive agency staff can make all the difference on those tough days. So, invest time in building strong mutual understanding and respect right from day one. You’ll reap the rewards for years to come.

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