I had my Annual Review a couple of days ago.
In fostering you meet an independent expert once a year for an hour or so to chat about how everything's going. The person doing your review have been given a profile of you by, in our case, Blue Sky's team. They write up how your last 12 months has gone from their point of view, when I say 'they'; it's mainly your social worker.
Your social worker comes along with a smile, and there might be another Blue Sky bod along to take a few notes, but not always.
It's a requirement, (as I understand it - there are all sorts of official things in fostering you have to accept without going into the greatest detail, you've got the actual job of fostering so big in your mind that it's best to leave the red tape to the red tapers). But basically; the Annual Review is another mechanism to protect people and standards in fostering.
I guess it's about the same as an MOT. Or a dentists check-up. You'd want to know if your brakes weren't up to scratch or you were getting a cavity back where you chew.
Yes, you'd want to know those things for the general good, but you still don't look forward to taking the car in, or sitting in the waiting room knowing it's your turn in a minute.
Actually I find the Review very different in that I look forward to it. Fostering can be tough, and the Review officers always seem to get that fact. They aren't trying to find fault, far from it, this is the key. They genuinely want to play their part in supporting the good things people who foster are doing.
The chat is very convivial, yet they are very professional too. If there's anything they need to help you buck up your thinking on, they use the praise sandwich technique of starting by all the things you are doing wonderfully well, dwelling on them, then tossing in something you could brush up on (nobody's perfect), then rounding off by dwelling on some more of your strengths. You end up making an appointment for next year (I struggle with the idea of something going in my diary that's a year away, mainly because I haven't got a 2016 diary and won't get one until Christmas...)
They ask if Blue Sky could do any more for you, and in our case at the moment the answer was a definite 'no'.
That done, you drive home feeling good about yourself except the bit in the middle of the praise sandwich, which actually leads you to buck up your act in that department. In my case it's getting my paperwork done and in pronto. I'm a great one for locking fostering paperwork in a drawer (you have to so the child can't stumble over it) and 'out of sight out of mind' is my problem there.
But, on the whole, as usual, a good experience.
The parking was free and the coffee was proper coffee.
And Blue Sky re-imburse my petrol.
So I guess they get a praise sandwich with praise in the middle.