This week at Homefinding has been kick started with staff panel training.

Being on a panel or at panel are terms we assume everyone understands. But of course, until you have been in that situation, it may mean nothing to you.

Being at panel is just about the final hurdle before becoming approved as a foster carer. I imagine it is right up there as a nerve wracking experience. As in, as bad as your driving test, but not quite as bad as major surgery.

The panel itself comprises of a number of professional individuals, who are foster carers, or social workers or been in foster care themselves. They can also include health and education professionals. They are all there with the same aim of making sure that the decision to approve you and your family as foster carers is the right one. They are presented with all the information about you as a family in advance and they have the opportunity to talk to the social worker who collated all that information during your assessment. They then meet you before making their recommendations and you beginning your fostering career.

Most people understand how important it is to get that decision right, and although it is a daunting experience, we try our best for you to be relaxed and the feedback we get is generally that it is not as bad as they imagined.

I have trawled the internet for peoples experiences of being at panel and found very little. It is something we assume everybody understands. And although we are certainly welcmoming and pleasant, I think it must feel like a job interview or a trip to the dentist. We are holding a panel for new applicants here next week. Maybe I shall ask some unsuspecting applicants to write next weeks blog. No pressure! As if the process wasn't daunting enough. I will certainly get some feedback from them and their experience.

So watch this space.