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Emma’s fostering blog

Social media

It was the first support group after the long summer holidays, carers were chatting amongst themselves when the FSW started shouting at everyone to be quite, and then she stated ‘while you lot have been off on your holidays I have had the mammoth task of checking all the Foster Carers Facebook accounts’.

Just another example of feeling threatened and vulnerable, it’s not treating us as professionals or doing anything to promote a positive respectful relationship. Surely they could have asked carers to check their own social media and used the support group to discuss this.

Social media can be tricky; sometimes you might innocently like a post, not knowing it could be harmful or unknowingly disclose something. What happened as a result of this was unpleasant, a number of good foster carers were in trouble and were sent back to panel for not using social media in the way they felt they should. It wasn’t safe guarding issues it was simply having an opinion.

I thought surely it would be more helpful to offer a workshop for Foster Carers to inform them on what they could and couldn’t do; at this time there was no training or policy on social media just a blanket ban of not putting pictures of looked after children on social media. It is important that foster carers understand about social networking, including the opportunities it brings and the dangers it can present, how to protect their accounts, to be aware of liking and sharing and how to adjust privacy settings and so on.

We have to educate children and young people to stay safe when they are using social media but also embrace it as we are living in a world where technology is moving at a fast pace. Foster carers and social workers may not be as up to speed with technology as younger people, and may consequently tend to focus on the challenges rather than the opportunities it offers.

It’s difficult not to include ‘looked after children’ as often we have photos or share things we have done as a family on our social media, so if children are to feel part of the family they want to be included. There could be safety issues related to the child or young person and it could be that the child’s family can’t know where the child is placed, this needs to be explored with the social worker; the children are not identified by name, not identified as foster children and there is no discussion on the social networking sites about case specific information about the child or the child’s family.

My thought are it’s crucial that foster carers are able to support children and young people to learn about safe use of the internet and social networking sites, carers need to be encouraged to have and use social media or how can they monitor this and know what the dangers are.

There could be safety issues related to the child or young person and it could be that the child’s family can’t know where the child is placed, this needs to be explored with the social worker; the children are not identified by name, not identified as foster children and there is no discussion on the social networking sites about case specific information about the child or the child’s family.

My thought are it’s crucial that foster carers are able to support children and young people to learn about safe use of the internet and social networking sites, carers need to be encouraged to have and use social media or how can they monitor this and know what the dangers are.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!