My name is Debbie Fisher and I am the Panel Administrator for Calon Cymru Fostering. I have been in that role for 2 years. Prior to that, I worked for Pathway Care for 3 years as an administrator covering all admin duties but mainly the Foster Carer annual reviews. So I met most of the Foster Carers during that time, as I used to take the minutes for the reviews.
I have always really enjoyed meeting the carers and hearing their stories about fostering, it sounds such an interesting and rewarding thing to do, I have always left a review or panel meeting feeling full of admiration for the carers and a bit in awe of what they do and the amazing difference they make to children’s lives!
As Panel Administrator, my role starts with booking panel dates and arranging for the staff and independent members to attend. We have a group of experienced staff and independent panel members with relevant backgrounds (we have Foster Carers, former social work managers, Foster Care leavers, a former CLA nurse, and a former educational psychologist) and we ask a number of them to sit on panel each month.
I make preparations and distribute panel documents to the members who are attending that month. I attend the panel meeting to take the minutes and following panel I liaise with our Independent Agency Decision Maker for her approval of the recommendation that panel has made, to approve new applicants or re-approve Foster Carers after their first annual review or a post allegation review.
I then send the documents out to the carers informing them of their approval and giving them all the information they need as new or continuing carers.
Since the lockdown began we have held two panels by video link, these have gone well and we have another panel booked for June on Zoom. The rest of my role has also gone well from home, just continuing to do what I would be doing at work but missing seeing everybody and having a chat, although we do catch up on Zoom and with lots of emails.
My husband has been furloughed since the start of April, so at least I have him to chat to. We are getting used to, and enjoying, being together all the time now – it was a bit of a challenge at first! The DIY jobs have never been so up to date around the house, I am trying to get it all on his list before his due return to work date at the start of July! We have really enjoyed the weather and walking in the stunning countryside near where we live.
I have missed seeing our three sons and their girlfriends although we have a video chat every week, so that is great, we also message daily as we have always done. I have also missed seeing friends but have spent many, many hours chatting on the phone so sometimes feel like we have caught up more than usual!
Everybody has worked so hard to stay safe and it will be good when we can settle down to the ‘new normal’ which hopefully won’t be too far off. In the meantime I know we have great support from the management and staff at Calon Cymru, it really is a place where you feel valued and appreciated and I am glad to be part of the team!