Fosterman – Fostering Blog 1205
I am often asked what more could be done to encourage more people to get involved in Fostering. I’ve noticed that more agencies are getting involved in Social Media now with adverts and online chats etc. I’ve seen that Local Authorities advertising in all sorts of places.
I’ve been involved in all sorts of ideas in the past from meeting people in shopping centres to being on radio stations being interviewed by famous DJs. I’ve also leafleted at railway stations giving hand outs to fed up and tired commuters. I found the shopping centre idea the most enjoyable where you could actually talk to people face to face and explain the realities, good and bad. What made me smile was people actually saying ‘what you’re a Foster Carer’ in amazement because I am male.
The agency that I worked for received a lot of enquiries as a result of that exercise. The radio shows were also quite successful and received a number of enquiries too. So how do you know if somebody is ‘right’ for the job? Well you don’t until a Social Worker sits down and talks to them to see what their intentions are. I’ve spoken to some people who come across as excellent for the role but have a background or attitude which really doesn’t suit the role.
I remember one chap who told me, quite bluntly, that he would not appreciate having Social Workers in his house and wouldn’t want outside involvement in being told how to bring a child up! Obviously his application didn’t go very far. But it’s hard to describe the ‘perfect’ Foster Carer isn’t it? There isn’t a one size fits all description.
Parenting experience helps as does empathy but you must also be well organised, professional, a good communicator and quite street wise. A lot of young people you work with come from unpleasant back grounds with drugs, alcohol and violence playing a major part into the young person coming into care. If you are a ‘shrinking violet’ you will find this daunting. Then there is working with birth parents. Having a good working relationship with parents is such a bonus but that can be difficult. It’s hard not to be judgemental, especially where severe neglect is involved. Then there is working with Social Services, not always an easy task either. I’ve worked with some fantastic Social Workers and some that are not so good.
What I want from a Social Worker is regular contact and a reasonably quick response to any issues or problems. It would also be great to work with one Social Worker per young person. I’ve known young people that have had 2, 3 or even 4 Social Workers and that are not even a long term placement. Staff turnover seems to be an issue with most Local Authorities and even some Fostering Agencies and I hear more and more about large Agencies taking their carers for granted as they increase in size.
You have to look after your Carers, make sure they are supported and are well trained. Give them regular visits and regular placements. If you treat your Carers badly they will move to another agency or leave Fostering completely and that is totally unacceptable.