How does a fostering charity work? Behind-the-scenes with our Chief Operating Officer

January 18, 2024

Our Chief Operating Officer, Sara Lovelock, has noted how she spent a week recently.

Sharing how fostering works is a key theme of this blog and it helps to reveal what goes on in a typical week of our staff and carers. (Hint: there is no typical week.)


I spend the day working from home with the first task to catch up on my emails (398 were waiting for me after one week of annual leave!). I either respond or direct the email on to the appropriate people. Next, I go into an online review meeting for one of our young people (I am covering this task for a Supervising Social Worker who is off today). It’s great to hear how well the young person is doing and it’s clear our carer is deeply committed to supporting them.

Finally, I turn my attention to a request from a former resident of our orphanage who is looking to see their records. I have to ensure we have all the relevant information and have completed identity checks before we can release any information. I also need to ensure I redact the documents so that I cover the identities of other young people and 3rd parties. Every time I read a record I’m reminded just how important accurate and sensitive record keeping is. We have carried out lots of work recently to make sure that our language is clear and non-discriminatory and “The Promise” contains clear directions from young peoples’ feedback to support these changes. I am pleased that we have changed our language and that any young person reading their records in future will benefit from these changes.


I head into the office and spend some time catching up with staff. With hybrid working, I feel it’s important to do this in person as often as possible and it allows me to catch up on any issues with carers and young people and to make sure I know what’s happening for staff. I carry out an “office check” which includes watering the plants (no matter how much I drop hints only Calum and I ever do this and I don’t even like spider plants) and checking whether or not the milk is in date. The serious, main purpose of the check, is to ensure that there are no Health and Safety or building security issues – especially when you see some of the expiry dates on things in the fridge!

I then complete the weekly Care Inspectorate return for each of our three registered services (Foster Care, Continuing Care and Host Families). The information I provide is ultimately used by the Scottish Government for planning purposes. I then have a catch up with the Chief Financial Officer and the People & Development Officer to discuss any issues arising and to consider any new local or national guidance that may affect us. Given hybrid working, it’s also an opportunity to check in and make sure our staff and each of us are doing ok.


It’s the last Wednesday of the month, so that means we have our monthly all staff meeting. The Chair of our Board joins the meeting and this allows him to hear directly from staff what’s going on and allows staff to speak directly with a Director, which is an important part of our open and inclusive culture. We start each meeting by celebrating success across our community and by acknowledging any learning opportunities that have arisen. This is part of our Growth Mindset culture and ensures we learn from our mistakes. This is a serious part of our learning but can be an amusing part of the meeting as people share experiences, which on my part usually involves shopping without my glasses on, but this meeting’s classic was the example of two staff members who accidentally broke into a shop! (I should add it was being prepared for opening and looked as if it was already open until the staff encountered workmen inside). We followed the meeting with a lunch activity organised by our Social Committee, which is a key element of developing working relationships in a fun, social setting. 


In the morning, I met with Scott from Developing the Young Workforce (Tay Cities) to explore partnership work we could do. Scott is committed to supporting young people into employment for whom there may be barriers. I will be signing the Young Person’s Guarantee so that CHT will become a pledge partner and in future, we will be working with Scott in areas such as helping young people with mock interviews or giving talks in schools about the positives of working in social care.

I was also pleased to meet with some of our carers who had attended the “Unleashing the Potential in our Young People” training. It is good to see how positively the session had impacted the carers and to see the investment in Growth Mindset leading to practice changes.

In the afternoon, I had a meeting with a local authority colleague. We discussed trends in child protection and the number of young people who are in need of care and protection based on local and national trends. It was good to be involved in thinking about the wider issues facing young people in Scotland and it is always helpful to bring any learning back to CHT for consideration.


On Friday, I turned my attention to my quality assurance role and spent some time reviewing carer and young people’s records. At CHT we try and ensure that “audit” is a supportive not a punitive exercise whilst ensuring that case notes are up to date, accurate and respectful.

I also had time to reflect on writing about my working week and realised that this short summary cannot fully convey everything that happens. I recognise that a key part of my role is decision making or supporting others to make decisions. This can range from deciding how many sandwiches are needed for a social event to key child protection work. I realise that I am lucky at CHT to have a wide-ranging role that still allows me to practice as a social worker but one that stretches my leadership and decision-making skills.

More behind-the-scenes

Check out our Christmas behind-the-scenes blog with our support workers. 

If you are interested in fostering and would like to learn more about what support the CHT Community provides, please get in touch.