"I Was Proceeding In A Westerly Direction..."
Writing up a recording of your fostered child can be a bit of a drudge sometimes.
And a bit scary too.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's this; when you foster a child, you have to keep a record of various things about how they're doing. Usually when they first arrive, you're asked to write one for each separate day. If things go okay, it gets reduced to weekly. Eventually, maybe, they become one per month.
At Blue Sky you get given a standard form with different sections relating to things like "Health" and "Education". There's a little note by each section reminding you of the type of thing worth adding, like; "Did the child see the doctor this week?" and there's a blank box for you to fill in with your information.
The blank form arrives as an email attachment, and you have to make a file and save it. I make several copies of the blank form in advance and stack them for future use. I understand there are carers who do it the old fashioned way with pen on paper and I think that's fair enough. We're not hired as typists, or internet whizzkids. Mind you, doing it with a word processor is a hell of a lot easier.
Blue Sky do regular training sessions on how to write your recordings. Plus when you see your Social Worker once a month for supervision, it's worth asking "How am I doing with my recordings?", because the fact is you just don't know. You might be driving them round the bend with too much waffle and Social Workers being generally overly kind, they don't want to disappoint by saying less is more. Worse you might be missing out important stuff; and how would they know that unless you talked.
If you're a Social Worker I'd ask this, there's nothing wrong with saying to your Carer "Nice piece of writing in last week's recording, where you wrote up the incident with the mobile phone. You stuck to the facts, made it clear how you acted correctly throughout, and then wrote a sentence of your opinion about what caused her to behave like that, then another on how you plan to nip that one in the bud in future."
Writing up a week with a looked-after child can be good for the soul. Like anything else in life which is challenging, getting it off your chest can help. But this is the big trap. Because our recordings are not meant to be a getting it off your chest session.
Sometimes, when I'm about to write a recording of something difficult, I find an image pops into my head. I don't know where it comes from. It makes me smile, and it helps with the recording. It's an image of me dressed as a policeman standing in the dock, opening a notebook and reading to the court. Every time I get the image, my police officer always begins with "I was proceeding in a Westerly direction..."
Then, another image jumps up, from an old American TV series, I think it was Dragnet. The Detective says to every witness he's questioning; "The facts ma'am, just the facts."
And instead of writing
"Kicked off again for no reason didn't she.'Typical."
"At 7.30pm on Tuesday 23rd, X appeared at the top of the stairs in an agitated state that her pay-as-you go phone was out of credit. Her phone frequently triggers anger, as she is aware of her general communication problems. I politely requested her to come downstairs carefully, as I was concerned about the danger of her location."
The Secret Foster Carer