Fostering First Team Growth
In 2022, FFI established, the long planned for, extra social work team, the Mid Team. Traditionally FFI have had 2 social work teams a South Team and a North Team. The North Team has had 5 Link Social Workers covering Donegal to Dublin, and the South Team grew to 6 Link Social Workers covering Wicklow to Cork.
The decision to expand and restructure the existing teams into three smaller teams with the appointment of a new Team Manager arose out of the recognition of the need for a more localised management presence in the more southern counties. FFI recognised that the increase in the numbers of placements and the complexities of the needs of children in care, across the country, over recent years places a higher demand on the Link Social Workers and Team Managers. The development of reflective social work practice and working in a PACEful manner requires a more in depth level of support and supervision. It also requires Team Managers to have time to promote, embed and support the Link Social Workers PACEful practice with the support of the therapy team.
With a lot of planning and a little bit of shuffling, the division could begin. FFI were delighted to appoint Helen McGuire Team Manager of the new South Team in September 2022. This allowed Mary Adams to manage the newly formed Mid Team. Claire Lohan’s North team was also re-structured with one of the Link Social Workers joining the Mid Team. A thorough change management plan was implemented over a number of months to manage the changes within the teams, and staff caseloads to ensure there is balance and that the transitions have been safe for all.
FFI now have successfully completed the restructuring of the teams and caseloads across the social work teams and the three teams are working independently. The Team Managers work closely together to support each other and different practice development projects. Through this process good cross cover and co-working practices amongst the teams are developing allowing for good learning and reflecting opportunities, as well as peer support for all.
We have a full compliment of social work staff on each of the three teams, allowing for the depth of support and supervision required to each foster placement and time within the Team Manager/Link Social Work supervisory relationship to reflect on practice in a meaningful manner. This promotes best practice for the children, carers and staff.