The world of a family finder

March 16, 2021

World Social Workers Day

“It’s always kinda been my calling”, says Saj when asked why she works for Western Bay as a Family Finding Social Worker.

“I was a supervising social worker in Carmarthen. Fostering and adoption has always been a personal interest and passion due to few different situations that have happened in my life.

“I have been with Western Bay now for about 18 months and there have been some incredible moments already, says Saj.

“With a recent successful matching panel, she was getting teary, I was getting teary, you just find out so much about the child and the person that you kind of go through it together.”

The adoption process is not of course for the faint hearted with the adopter’s resilience being tested frequently along the way.

“It’s a bit of shared experience in the end, you are walking side by side throughout.”

“There are a lot of balls in the air to ensure the best possible outcome for the child.”

What’s the average day like for a family finding social worker then?

“Lots of juggling!” says Saj.

“You’ve got all the different elements that need to be co-ordinate…Twin Tracking, the Doctor, medicals, training.

“There are a lot of balls in the air to ensure the best possible outcome for the child.”

Saj worked in Child Protection for 3 years and this frontline experience allayed with her knowledge of fostering and adoption is key.

“Empathy is very important, expands Saj, “you’ve got the foster carers for example who are so invested in the child.

“The loss from the foster carers is massive. This is why we build those relationships early, virtual introductions which we started using during Covid are going to stay.

“There are a lot of up’s and down’s and reflection is another important aspect.

“We have to be spot on during the matching process, there is no margin for error.

“You also have to use your instincts a lot, certain issues come up with some adopters and you just know it isn’t right.”

The adaptations made by Western Bay and most other similar services during the last year have been well documented, how has Family Finding coped in particular?

“It has been so different with Covid. Some of the changes have been really successful such as our profiling events.

“Some of the changes we’ve been forced to make have benefited us and will be balanced into the standard practice going forward.

Western Bay’s virtual profiling events attempt to match some of the children in the service with adopters who haven’t been placed yet.

“Day to day life as a family finding social worker varies.

“Again empathy is a key factor when dealing with birth parents.”

“There are the more day to day tasks such as organising the Letterbox service with birth parents, working on our good practice guides etc.

“We are currently aiming to be a lot clearer with Letterbox requirements before we go to matching panel. So the adopter knows exactly what the Letterbox looks like.

Letterbox is a service that connects birthparents with the adopted child through an exchange of written correspondence.  The service of course benefits the child and birth parent and is aligned with other adoption support work such as the Life Journey Framework.

“The various Western Bay services are developing and working closer than ever, says Saj, “we have training from our adoption support team so we are all joined up as an organisation and speaking one language.”

“Again empathy is a key factor when dealing with birth parents.

“They need a lot of care and of course are not necessarily bad people. They are human beings at the end of the day who’ve been on their own roller coasters in life.

“Some birth parents have various difficulties and challenges which aren’t even their fault.

“These people should not be demonised.

“We’re just trying to do the best for everyone.”

“You just don’t want to leave anything to chance, when children are at the heart of this.”

What would Saj say to any people out there considering social work?

“It’s not a 9 – 5 job firstly!

“Of course a lot of people know this already. But you can have really early mornings prepping away, and then be on the computer until 7pm – 8pm at night.

“Sometimes later!

“You just don’t want to leave anything to chance, when children are at the heart of this.”

We talk about the resilience of our adopters frequently but the same can be said of our staff at Western Bay. The fact that the service maintained its levels of adopter assessments, approvals and matches during 2020 to pre-Covid times says it all.

“Yes it’s draining and it’s stressful, says Saj, “but it’s those little milestones, victories and outcomes that makes it all so rewarding.

“Adoption orders, successful matching panels – these are massive moments.”

Continuous development, constant learning, reflection, these are all key themes in the world of a social worker. Also, again like adoption, not for the faint hearted.

“Support gets you through. I really rate WBAS, says Saj, “management, your colleagues, little things like always calling you back no matter what time it is to help.

“Little random brainstorms when everyone is tired but they just want to help you find a solution.”

#WorldSocialWorkerDay

Find out more about the adoption process here .

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