If you are already a carer, I do hope you are with an agency that you have a genuine partnership with.
I admit that at times I have felt very hesitant to ask for help from my caseworker/agency. I own that some of that has to do with my own pride and wanting to be able to sort things out for myself. But at the same time I was also worried about how this would be interpreted by my caseworker and they may think I cannot cope.
Please know that every foster and relative carer has the right to receive support to assist them in their caring role and every child in care has the right to this support at all times.
Have a read of the following three statements and see if they feel like they are reasonable expectations to you.
- I have a respectful and safe relationship with my caseworker and feel s/he will listen to me and provide helpful support.
- I trust that my caseworker and my agency care about the welfare of the children in my care, my self and other household members.
- When I ask for help in relation to caring for a child (or children) in my care, I feel heard and my caseworker and agency respond appropriately.
As a carer (foster carer, relative carer), I hope you can answer ‘yes’ or ‘most of the time’ to the above three statements. If you do not feel like you have a respectful, safe and supportive relationship with your agency, I hope you can find the courage to talk to the agency manager about your concerns. In the past I have not been able to answer ‘yes’ to any of the above questions and it was specific to a caseworker at the time. I ended up asking to be transferred to another caseworker as the relationship with the caseworker was impacting on my carer experience.
If you are considering becoming a foster or relative carer, ask the agency staff about how they will demonstrate the above three statements. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post ‘Agencies – choosing a foster care agency’ it is really important to pick the right agency for you, your partner, spouse, family. In that post there are additional guiding questions to support your conversations and decision making.
Of course, there are also some areas of ‘caring’ that you may find easier talking to a friend, family, fellow carer or support agency about. I will post more about building your own support network soon.