What is fostering like?
After reading news and blogs- Foster Carers ‘traditional or professional’ everyone has an opinion it seems, however we spend more time with, know more about and give more to individual children in need than all the other professions put together.
So what’s it really like Fostering – it’s something you know in your heart that you want to make a difference. It’s about determination, challenging the system, being in it for the long haul and believing in the child and nothing prepares you or your family for the life changing journey ahead.
It is different from parenting your own children; it’s true, children left at home for far too long, they are more in need than ever because of cutbacks in every sector, yet Foster Carers remain strong and carry on giving love and warmth.
Today you need to be highly skilled to look after the most vulnerable children in society Foster carers were traditional carers, mainly Man went to work Woman stayed at home and did the fostering- some of those are still fostering today – they have good parenting skills but they can’t work a computer, they don’t have academic skills that are now required by the authorities to pass your annual review and so they’re being pushed out of the profession or frozen out from taking further children. Today you are required to be a professional -except by name, expected to implement care plans, trained, supervised and accountable and having to adhere to strict policy.
For years authorities have got away with bully tactics – yes, we are self-employed, but- we can’t chose our hours of work, change our Fostering Social worker, decide on our training, take respite when needed, take children from different agencies when we have empty beds, our parenting decisions are regularly undermined and quite often we are not told key things that relate to safety at home. Is it any wonder that Foster carers have low morale and that IWGB foster carer union is growing! We have the least amount of employment rights due to our self-employed status despite being completely accountable to local authorities. Can we really speak out about alleged wrong doing or poor practice.
When allegations are made Foster Carers have found themselves being de-registered without clear cause or opportunity to defend themselves- we have little to challenge the system-Judge, Jury and Executioner- Authorities will carry on expecting us to be that professional, but won’t give us the title because it will cost money, a minimum salary, equal to minimum wage of a 40hr week, and because we really care about the children- they will get away with it.
My thoughts are – most important in all this is the wellbeing of the child, but equally Foster carers need to be supported, so I am for the introduction of a Central Register as it would bring a level of professionalism currently absent from fostering.
Emma A Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!