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A day in the life of Fostering Panel Administrator & Author Catherine

Catherine Marshall

Olive Branch’s fostering community is made up of many different roles, from Foster Carers to Social Workers. The Olive Branch team care passionately about supporting foster carers, children and young people. One such team member is Fostering Panel Administrator Catherine, who is also a published author.

We spoke to Catherine to find out more about what a typical working day for her involves…


Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m married with two grown-up children and live in Rawtenstall, though I am originally from Birmingham.  When not writing, I am a Panel Administrator for Olive Branch and have spent time working in education, providing admin support but also acting as a student mentor, events organiser, creative writing tutor and director of drama productions. 


Can you tell me more about what your role at Olive Branch involves?

I’m the Panel Administrator at Olive Branch, which involves the safer recruitment of carers: carrying out all their checks and references and bringing them to Panel.  It involves liaising with the applicants, their assessing social workers and our leadership team, organising the monthly Panels, attending them and taking the minutes, and then completing the post-Panel admin.  How busy I am depends on where in the Panel cycle it is, and how many applicants or carers are coming to that .


What does a typical working day look like for you?

In the morning, I check my email and deal with anything urgent that’s come in. Meetings usually take place in the mornings for me, and I like keeping up with any recent developments then.  It’s also the best time to catch my colleagues if I need any input or support from them with anything.

I try to use the afternoons to focus on anything time-consuming, as by then I’ve usually dealt with anything ad hoc in the mornings.  It could be creating Panel agendas or invitations, working through the post-Panel admin process for carers, sending out reference requests for new Panel members or organising Skills to Foster training sessions.


What do you like most about your role?

Taking the prospective carers from their first application to approval. 

I feel that I have got to know them a little during the process, and I am always rooting for them when they come to Panel.  I also like that my role is responsible and defined.


What’s the most challenging thing about your role?

Keeping on top of last-minute changes to Panel and IRO meetings, and ensuring that everyone involved knows about them.  It requires lots of checking and re-checking.


Any advice for someone considering fostering?

Go into it with your eyes wide open.  Talk to as many other carers as you can.  It can be very challenging as well as hugely rewarding.  Make sure you seek support if and when you need it.


Tell us more about your books and journey as a writer!

I always found English easy at school and enjoyed it.  When I was eleven and bored during the school summer holidays, my mother suggested I write a story.  And that’s how it began.  I wrote stories for myself and for my friends’ entertainment for years, and then I was reading a short story in Jackie magazine and thought, I could do that …

My last three books are psychological thrillers, though I would say they’re more dramas, and they all began as ideas from real life.  For example, I worked at a school similar to the one in Excluded, and I spent a week at an Open University Psychology summer school like the characters in Masquerade.  I like to read and write about believable characters whilst at the same time having a twisty plot, which can be a challenging balance to strike.   

Although I have had some success, there have definitely been peaks and troughs, and I have seen several agents come and go.  But I always have a story and characters in my head, and it’s still my favourite thing to do! 


What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I enjoy reading and interior design.  I love visiting cities for the culture and Cornwall to breathe!


Could you open your heart and home to a child who needs a fresh start and a safe space to call home?

Get in touch with us today.





Fostering insights

Date published

02 October 2023

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