Had a long and very interesting phone call, with a lady carer, who I got into fostering a couple of years ago. Susan is a single lady who came into fostering after working many years in social, residential care for mainly elderly people.
She had also worked as a P.A. for younger people, many with learning difficulties. She had ‘foster carer’ written all over her and, sure enough, she sailed through her form F and was very quickly up and running with her first placement, a young girl with many complex physical needs and requirements.
It was a peculiar placement as the parents had given up the young girl as they were brave enough to admit that they couldn’t deal with her complex needs. Susan has been working fantastically with both the young lady and her parents.
Now the local authority had approached her to ask if she would take out an SGO. A couple of blogs ago I wrote about these and it was a huge coincidence that this had now come up. Now the local authority had, initially, not been very helpful with the placement as a whole with lots of dithering and Susan seemingly spending hours on the telephone chasing people up.
My suggestion was that she asked the local authority for something in writing with regards to what they are offering. When Susan asked this of the social worker she was asked what she meant by ‘offering’. This didn’t bode well.
The social worker went off and came back, later in the day with an offer which was, to be honest, derisory. Susan came back to me and asked my advice as her link-worker was unavailable. She was concerned, like many other foster carers, that they local authority would think that she was just too money orientated.
I reminded Susan that she was a professional in what she did and therefore money and being properly paid for a very difficult job was very important. I also reminded her that she would not be able to take other placements during this period so where would her income come from.
So, with a new found steely determination, she went back to the social worker and asked her to rethink what had been offered. She heard nothing for 24 hours and then the social worker came back with what was a lot better offer over a lot longer timescale. So it looks like this will be moving forward and I am delighted for her.
The moral of this story is that, as foster carers, we shouldn’t be shy about talking about money. We are all trained professionals at what we do and we need to break down the stigma of being glorified babysitters.
If we want to be treated professionally we need to act professionally and stick up for ourselves. If you are not happy about something then say. As long as you present your grievances in a professional, well thought out manner then you will be listened to.
Keep your link worker in the loop and make sure they are supportive of you. I am fed up with this attitude of ‘professionals’ where foster carers are excluded and patronised.