One of the major issues still arising within foster care, is the lack of information given to carers.
A recent survey published by the Fostering Network, where Foster carers were asked “Are you given all the information you need about a fostered child before they move in, to look after them and others in the household safely?”
The survey highlights some concerning issues in the way information sharing is being dealt with, as only 9% actually said they were “always given the information needed” and 6% saying that “information sharing ‘never happened”. In fact 23% of the carers who took part; said “they were rarely given the information they needed.” 32% said “this mostly happened” and 31% were saying “they were sometimes given this information’.
As foster carers; we know how important it is that we have the information needed to safely care for the child. Whilst we accept that emergency placements happen with very little warning and information, this should be rectified as soon as possible.
As professionals we must be ensuring that we receive the information needed to keep both the child and ourselves safe. We need to know as much about the child as possible so that we can help and encourage them reach their potential.
This is an area where real change is needed. But is this really a piece of a much bigger puzzle? Does the real issue lie with how fosters carers are still viewed within the care system?
Clearer understanding must be shown of the key role foster carers have within the ‘Team around the child’, I love this quote from Debbie Booth a foster carer speaking at the Fostering Network’s conference 2007.
“If I am not a crucial part of the team who works around the child, then what am I?
If I am not paid for the time and skills I dedicate to the child I care for, does that mean that my time, those skills and that child are worthless?
I am regulated, monitored, assessed and standardised, reviewed and approved.
I write reports, attend meetings, submit forms, keep my paperwork in order, record my days, attend training, as well as wipe noses and bottoms, sing songs and read stories, and act as mother, teacher, taxi driver, counsellor, therapist, nurse, spiritual advisor, confidante, rule giver, cook, nutritionist, careers advisor, pillow, whipping boy, moderator, IT consultant, advocate, bank manager, librarian, encyclopaedia, legal advisor and just be there…
If I am not a professional, does that make me an amateur?”
The professionalism of foster carers is something that needs to be recognised and respected, not just within the care system, but across society as a whole. Though there is a great deal of room for growth, foster carers must also play our part, it’s essential we continue our development, undertaking relevant training and by treating all members of the care profession with the respect we so desire, and with time we will be recognised and respected for being the front line of care for vulnerable children.
My third blog post for Progress Care, read this and others over at Foster Care with Progress.