Co-Director / Responsible Individual
My name is Lorraine Walker; I am one of the directors and the Responsible Individual of Swap Foster Care. (Swap Ltd)
I am a qualified Social Worker having qualified at the University of Coventry in 2004. Prior to Swap Foster Care I worked 5 years in frontline child protection and in a Long-term Looked After Children’s team Coventry.
As one of the directors and the Responsible Individual of Swap Foster Care my main role is to monitor the quality and performance of the agency. This is achieved in a number of ways, I and other senior managers continually monitor the performance of staff, the progress children and young people in placement, outcomes achieved and the effectiveness of matching and Placement Plans. We conduct regular consultations with children, foster carers, staff and placing Social Workers and we have through internal audits and external verification and inspection by Ofsted.
We aim to provide an outstanding service to everyone. We are extremely proud that in most of our recent inspections our offices have been rated as good or better. We put this achievement down to our professional, dedicated staff and carers who embrace our child-centred ethos.
When I’m not working at Swap I love nothing more than spending quality time with my family of 3 grown up children, my grandchildren and my 2 dogs.
Co Director / Agency Decision Maker
I am a qualified Social Worker having graduated from Staffordshire University (Stoke on Trent campus) in July 2000 after undertaking an ‘Access’ to Higher Education at Solihull College (Chelmsley Campus).
Since qualifying as a Social Worker. I have worked for various Local Authorities: as a Social Work Practitioner, a Senior Practitioner, Team Leader, Team Manager - in busy Child Protection and Care Management Teams. I have also worked as a Deputy and Project Manager for an Independent Fostering and Residential Services provider with charitable status. Prior to my current role, I was Registered Manager of Swap Foster Care.
Before qualification, I also worked in Residential Children’s services for a large City Authority.
I am currently the ‘Agency Decision Maker’ (A.D.M.) at Swap Foster Care with responsibility for making final decisions as to the suitability of approved and applicant Foster Parents’ suitability to Foster with our agency – to become part of our Fostering family.
I am registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
In my spare time I enjoy reading, spending time with my three sons and Grandchildren and am currently reading the ‘Air Pilot’s Manual’ with a view one day of learning to fly and hopefully gaining my Private Pilots’ Licence.
I have during my career seen many examples of the difficult life circumstances children and their families find themselves in and understand the importance of having a range of suitable safe alternative families for safeguarding the welfare of some children and young people.
Whether you are an experienced Foster Parent who is unhappy with the support you currently receive looking to change your current agency or, new to fostering, we welcome your interest in being part of our Fostering family and would like to take this opportunity of wishing you every success in your fostering career with us. We can offer you every support through the skills and experience of our staff and other Foster Parents to enable you to be part of making a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. All the foster Parents I speak to tell me that they would not imagine doing anything else now!
My name is Jessica Robertson and I am the Registered Manager at SWAP foster care. I have worked at SWAP since May 2014 and was originally a Student social worker at SWAP.
My desire to be a social worker with children and families developed when I found my employment as a therapeutic residential care worker. I worked in a residential home for 3 1/2 years with traumatized children from the age of 11, supporting them through their struggles and difficulties from their past and into their future and I also became a key worker which had tasks to complete. This was a very enjoyable and rewarding role which I left to progress my experiences. I found a similar role in a crisis intervention centre with children and young people and worked with children on a short-term basis from the ages of 10-18. This was a very challenging role but enjoyable. It was at this point I started thinking about my future and made the decision to go to university to further my education. After a hard three years studying I achieved a BA honours in Social Work at Coventry University and as soon as I had completed my studies, I started graduate employment with SWAP foster care as a social worker.
I am very passionate about children and young people and ambitious to implement my social work values into practice and make a difference. I feel that all my experiences have equipped me with a wide range of knowledge and skill within Social care but also in working with children and young people.
Within my current role as a supervising social worker I have been able to put my knowledge and skills into practice to not only support my foster parents in performing their role in looking after the children in placement but also sharing this with my colleagues and students. I really enjoy what I do and l love being part of the team at SWAP foster care.
Kirsti De Smet
Acting Fostering Service Manager / Supervising Social Worker
My name is Kirsti De Smet and I am the Deputy Manager at SWAP Foster Care, where I have been employed since January 2017.
I graduated with my BA Hons Social Work degree in 2015 and went on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Continued Professional Development June 2016. I have now completed my Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) with SWAP Foster Care January 2018. I have through my employment history primarily supported children and families. This started when I was completing a Forensic Science and Law diploma and I was fortunate to gain a work-based placement in a secure training centre for young people aged 11 – 17 years. I was tasked to present and complete the offender behaviour programme in our prevention of re-offending for these young people.
Following this I was employed as a social care worker within a residential children’s home for blind and partially sighted children with additional complex needs; remaining in this employment for 3 1/2 years. It was in this role that I had decided that I wanted to be a social worker. However, I had known prior to this that I wanted to work with others and support them in making a difference. I worked with young people aged from 4 – 19 years and supported them with their everyday tasks and life skills. I later became a key worker for several young people on the transition team, which I really enjoyed because this is where we got to see the real potential of our young people. In this role I supported young people with very complex medical needs including epilepsy for which I was medication administrator trained. I decided during this employment to apply to university for my Social Work degree which is the only reason I ceased this employment.
During my degree I was offered placement in a domestic violence agency and Looked After Children’s team with the local authority which, reinforced my want to be a social worker following my studies. On graduating from University, I gained employment as a support worker in a domestic violence and abuse agency; supporting women, men and their children to flee abuse and to gain safe refuge. I remained in this role for 12 months alongside my studies for a Post Graduate Certificate in Continued Professional Development; until I secured my current position with SWAP Foster Care as a Supervising Social Worker.
I have supported children, young people and their families in a variety of roles and for varying reasons. I am very passionate about my current role as a Supervising Social Worker which allows for me to apply my knowledge and understanding to my practice; supporting foster carers in their role in caring for looked after children. I keep the individual to the fore of my practice and ensure that I work with others to improve outcomes for those that need support. I am very fortunate to be part of the SWAP Foster Care team.
Fostering Service Administrator
Hi, my name is Dominique and I am the Fostering Service Administrator at SWAP Foster Care, where I have been employed since November 2019.
My background is in Accounting & Finance where I have mostly worked within the Events & Hospitality sector and within Schools. I am currently studying for a degree in Business & Finance, this along with my existing skills and knowledge enables me to provide all round support to the business and the whole SWAP team.
Supervising Social Worker
Hello, I am Charleigh Ryder and I am a Supervising Social Worker here at SWAP. I started at SWAP in January 2018 as a Social Work Student, and decided to stay on in July 2018 as a Family Support Worker after finishing my Social Work Masters Degree. Then when my registration came through I became a qualified Supervising Social Worker.
I decided I wanted to be a children and families social worker whilst working as a support worker within Domestic Violence and Abuse. I worked within this area for five years gaining a vast amount of experience supporting women, men and families fleeing from imminent danger. I found this role very enjoyable and very rewarding, this role was very fast paced and really gave me a huge amount of knowledge that I have carried forward to my Social Work Career. After working within this sector alongside Social Workers, I decided to go back to University and undertake a Master’s in Social Work. Whilst at university I completed my first practice placement within an adults Mental Health team. This placement has also provided me with in-depth knowledge that is supporting me within my role. After two hard years of working and studying, I finally completed my Master’s at Warwick University in July 2018 and immediately took up a graduate position here at SWAP.
Before I worked in Domestic Violence and Abuse I undertook an undergraduate degree in Criminology and Sociology. After graduating, I volunteered with four different agencies, to gain experience of supporting people who had experienced trauma and abuse. This experience highlighted my passion to support a range of individuals from a range of backgrounds with the trauma they were experiencing. This passion is still alive today and very much fuels me daily in my work at SWAP.
I have found that SWAP has a brilliantly family ethos and we are very supportive towards our Foster Carers and the children they have in placement. I really enjoy being able to bring my knowledge and skills into my role at SWAP and love being part of such a supportive team. I feel very lucky to have secured my graduate position at SWAP and look forward to furthering and developing my professional career here at SWAP.
Supervising Social Worker
Hello, my name is Natalie and I have been working at SWAP since October 2020.
I completed a BSc degree in Psychology, qualifying in 2010 and was unsure of what my future would entail. I have a brother with autism and learning difficulties and growing up, this has always been an area of interest for me. I began volunteering with different agencies, including the youth offending team and in an orphanage in Morocco, where I decided that working with vulnerable children was where my passion lay. I travelled abroad to America for the summer to work at a summer camp for children with disabilities, before completing my Masters in Social Work, qualifying from the University of Worcester in 2016. My university degree offered me experience working for an independent advocacy team and within CAFCASS, where I developed skills within the court arena, writing reports and giving evidence.
Once qualified, I began my career within a Child Protection Team for a Local Authority and then moved to work for an independent parenting assessment centre, where I became a trained PAMS assessor. I enjoyed completing the detailed assessments of individuals and exploring how their life history and experiences can impact their capabilities as a parent. I am a big advocate for positive change, empowerment and learning. However unfortunately, it is not always deemed in the best interests for a child to remain within their family unit and so the need for nurturing, stable foster carers is paramount for many.
My appetite for learning and broadening my knowledge moved to the fostering remit and I researched SWAP, being pleased with the ‘family run’ feel and close knit supportive team. I feel very fortunate to be part of SWAP and am excited for the future.
Supervising Social Worker
Hi, I’m Carla and I’m a Supervising Social Worker at SWAP Foster Care, I joined the team in March 2021.
I graduated from Birmingham City University in 2008 and worked for a Local Authority within a Care Management/Safeguarding Team as a Child Protection Social Worker, progressing to Senior Social Worker and Senior Practitioner roles. I then spent time within the Local Authority Adoption and Fostering Service as a Family Finding Social Worker whereby my main responsibilities included undertaking the role of the proactive person in identifying possible matches for children and placing them with permanent carers, where care plans of adoption or long-term fostering had been agreed. Before joining SWAP, I worked within a Local Authority Child Protection and Court Team working with children who were at risk of or experiencing significant harm through abuse, exposure to domestic violence, addiction, poor mental health, neglect, trauma, and various other complex family difficulties.
I have always been passionate about promoting the safety and protection of children and working with the most at risk and vulnerable children in society. Sadly, for some children remaining within their birth family can become too risky and unsafe and decisions must be made to ensure their welfare is being safeguarded. These children may require foster placements with carers who can make such a huge difference to their lived experiences and future outcomes.
My experience of multi-agency working and working with ‘Looked After Children’ will enable me to support foster carers in their role of delivering the best possible care for children who are looked after. I’m excited for the next chapter in my Social Work career and to be part of a supportive team here at SWAP Foster Care.