Foster Carers Supporting Foster Carers
How many of you feel you do a great job as a foster carer and would like to help others to do the same? Or perhaps you are newly approved and feel you would benefit from a little advice to help you with your first placement(s)? Well maybe being part of the peer mentoring scheme is the answer….
Peer Mentoring – The Background
In 2007, the Fostering Network received funding from the Children’s Workforce Development Council for a project to investigate peer mentoring schemes for foster carers. What the survey revealed was that there were only a small number of peer mentoring schemes already set up in England, where foster carers are sharing experiences and providing support.
So what is Peer Mentoring?
The Fostering Network has developed the following definition of peer mentoring in foster care:
‘Approved or retired foster carers in a structured one-to-one relationship with other approved or prospective foster carers. Peer mentoring is delivered by a more experienced foster carer (the mentor) to a less experienced foster carer (the mentee), outside of any line management relationship. Mentors offer non-judgemental support from a position of understanding as foster carers themselves.’
The key points of a mentoring relationship are:
- One-to-one – a relationship between two people
- Non-judgemental – the mentor is to assist and support the carer in finding their own way forward; not to judge his/her attitudes or behaviours
- Voluntary – both parties are there because they want to
- Support-Encourage – does not seek to teach or ‘police’, but is there to listen, share experiences and offer guidance and choices.
“Gain confidence and progress”
A newly approved Foster Carer discusses her positive experience of the mentor scheme: “My mentor has been a foster carer for over 10 years. The agreement between us is to enhance my skills as a new foster carer in order to gain confidence and progress. We have, on occasion, met up for a coffee and a chat to discuss how we are getting on. My mentor is also available at the end of the phone should I need any advice.”
Foster carers helping foster carers
Lorimer currently offers a mentor scheme to support newly approved foster carers through their first placement(s), and also it enables experienced carers to enhance their skills too.
The aims and objectives of the mentoring scheme are to:
- Provide s support service by experienced Foster Carers for new and less experienced Foster Carers
- Ensure that new Foster Carers have access to various channels of support when needed, especially through their first placement(s)
- Enable and encourage experienced Foster Carers to develop their skills
- Enable newly approved Foster Carers to have an outlet to express any concerns, or worries they may have about their new role, that they might not feel comfortable off-loading to their Supervising Social Worker
Zoe O’Donohoe, Marketing Manager, highlights the importance of this scheme, “Carers currently receive support through their Supervising Social Worker, comprehensive training programme and the on-call system. However, sometimes what is needed can only be provided by another, more experienced carer; someone who has been through the same fears and overcome them, someone who knows what it is like to be a Foster Carer.”
Lorimer’s mentor scheme is receiving great feedback, “I found it invaluable to have support available from someone who truly ‘understood’ my situation”, Mentee.
How to apply
Are you a current Foster Carer with Lorimer Fostering and you would like to become a mentor? Please speak with your Supervising Social Worker who can provide you with the mentor scheme booklet with more information.
If you would like to find out how to become a Foster Carer with Lorimer Fostering then start the process now by submitting your details on the form below and we will give you a call back or alternatively you can contact us on (freephone) 0800 038 7799.