We've just had our Annual Review. Me and the other half.
Blue Sky runs the rule over your fostering every 12 months. It's yet another example of how thorough the support is. I worked in various different jobs before fostering, and there was never so much back-up.
The review was friendly and informal. You sit down with your social worker and a chap who is called the Independent Review Officer. There's no paperwork involved, although if you filled out the little questionnaire they send you a couple of weeks in advance, that piece of paper might be on the table.
Then; you chat. Cup of coffee in hand, you chat. It's not anything more than that.
Your social worker is your support during the review, because they are about 50% responsible for how you're doing and they field any questions the Review Officer has about the technical side of fostering.
The idea of having a Review person who is independent of Blue Sky makes sense; if Blue Sky reviewed themselves it would look less than transparent.
The chap we had was someone who had just retired after many years work in social services, so he knew the ropes, and was very kind and supportive.
In fact, he had a good idea about something to help one of our current placements.
Not only that, he said that in all his years in social work he had never fully realised what a magnificent job foster carers do. He said exactly that. About ten times. He said it was a real eye-opener. He didn't just say that foster carers do a magnificent job about ten times, he also said thank you on behalf of the Great British public for being a foster carer. He said that several times too. He also said that meeting so many wonderful people doing such important things was very humbling for him.
In fact, at each piece of information about what we do and how we (try) to do it, the Review Officer raised his eyebrows and muttered things like "That's wonderful" or "Brilliant".
We all laughed a lot at the silly things in life and fostering.
The chap did ask why I didn't attend every single training session and I explained why, and my social worker totally backed me up and that was that. In other words, the review wasn't what they call a snow job.
Later that evening the Review Officer phoned me at home to say what a pleasure the review had been, to keep up the good work and he looked forward to next year.
It doesn't end there. Three days later we received a written report on the review, which makes such good reading that I've put it somewhere safe (i.e. where no foster child can see it) so that mid-morning I can sit down and read it again.
Although I allow my eye to skip the bit about training, because even though it wasn't a criticism, it felt a tiny bit like it. Maybe I will up my attendance...