N is for Nurturing
This is Leona. Leona is a senior family support worker who works in the council's Fostering and Adoption Team.
Leona, as her title suggests, works to support families, in two defining ways.
Leona's role is finding alternative care arrangements for children and young people aged between 0 and 16 years old when, for a number of reasons, they are unable to live with their birth parents for a time. Leona also recruits, trains, and supports new foster carers and helps to deliver a monthly foster carer support group - providing knowledge and support to new and experienced foster carers.
Leona's role also includes engaging with households who are thinking about adopting, carrying out initial assessments, and delivering the pre-approval four-day course.
Leona's job is not easy. To do this job effectively requires many skills including being resilient, empathetic, consistent, and supportive. Leona stands out because of her charismatic personality and her enthusiasm for and enjoyment of her role. Leona has the ability to speak honestly and transparently, building trust between her, the families and the young people she works with.
Working in the social work team for 18 years, Leona understands that this highly stressful, highly emotionally challenging job is not the standard nine-to-five role. Every child or young person matters, and Leona's role is to make ensure the best outcome for them by working with current foster carers to identify the best match possible - then finding the best environment - to ensure the child's needs are met during what can be a difficult time for families.
Best part of the job for Leona? "I genuinely love meeting with so many interesting people every day - connecting with those who share the same dream of providing safe spaces for young people. It is a hard, but extremely rewarding job that I get to do with the most compassionate and caring team. I can't imagine doing anything else."
Leona explained that Dumfries and Galloway Council is lucky, in the fact it works hand-in-hand with the Care Experienced Health and Wellbeing team at NHS Dumfries and Galloway, and the council's Children's Services Team to offer a direct response to the holistic needs of young people and families. By working together with colleagues across the partnership, Leona can build on the skills and knowledge of new adoptive parents and foster carers as they start their new journeys as parents and carers.
Leona, you provide vital support to families, and you and the team you work with create families. You do so with a smile and an unwavering confidence that supports so many children, young people and families across the region. You change lives, create safe solutions, and create forever homes for those wishing to start or grow their own families. Thank you, for everything you do - and thank you for doing it in the kind and happy way you do.
Fact - There are 63 households across Dumfries and Galloway who are registered as fosterer carers. Could you be household 64? For more information about fostering and adoption: Fostering Home Page - Fostering and Adoption - Dumfries and Galloway Council (dumgal.gov.uk)