A comprehensive report has been compiled based on a survey from over 4000 foster carers, it paints a picture of fostering in their words and raises issues and voices that have been ignored. The Foster carers have a very important role to helping foster children prosper and flourish. Based on the feedback the foster carers feel they are not supported by the system and appropriate support, training and respect isn’t given.
This is frustrating as foster carers have been highlighting this issue for the better part of the last two years and it seems nothing has been done about it to make things better. below are some of the facts taken from the report;
- Many foster carers feel that they are not treated as a valuable member of the team by their foster child’s social workers, with only 58 percent saying that they do.
- 6 out of 10 foster carers say that the allowance which is supposed to cover the foster child’s expenses doesn’t cover the full cost with many of them dipping into their own pockets.
- When a foster carer is asked to look after a child who is outside of their usual age range and expertise, over three-quarters of the foster carers feel they aren’t given the additional support and training which will allow them to best look after the child or meet the child’s needs.
- Only a third of the foster carers feel that a short break from fostering when they need it is good. The whole purpose of this is to eliminate burn outs etc and thats why respite care was introduced as fostering can be very demanding and tiring. It is essential for the foster carers to have a break when need be.
The above-highlighted points show that the vital support needed for the carers like financial support and general support like training etc doesn’t meet the needs of foster carers. This is essential to ensure the foster carers are rightly equipped to look after a vulnerable child to the best of their abilities. This is especially troubling to hear when an estimating 8,000 more foster families are needed, it is very important that the right level support is given, training and the correct amount of allowances are given to ensure existing foster carers can continue their role, this would also encourage new people to foster.
Not only are the foster carers not being supported and treated as they are supposed to be, but the children and young people in their care have very complexed and challenging needs, resulting in the expectation on foster carers growing accordingly.
The survey found that:
- In the past 24 months 43 percent of foster carers have looked after a child who has had run ins with the police, caused violence in their home or run away. This can be a very difficult for the foster parents to cope with this level of stress.
- 48 per cent of foster carers say that they are supporting fostered children with mental health needs who are not accessing specialist support.
The survey also shows that 89 percent of foster carers are motivated in creating a difference in the childs life. Foster carers go above and beyond the role of a parent and the survey reflects this. Foster carers are expected to act as professionals and it is only right they get treated as such, is that too much to ask for?
In a time of austerity, we must not allow the fostering sector to become victims of cuts. The lack of investment in support, training and remuneration for foster carers, and the fact that too many carers are not being made to feel a vital part of the children’s social care workforce, means that the recruitment and retention of foster carers and the outcomes of fostered children and young people are being jeopardised.
The survey report also outlines recommendations to the governments of the UK, fostering services and placing authorities. We will try our best to ensure these changes are brought in place so we can have an effective system where fostering can live up to its purpose and that is to make sure the foster child is on route to prosperity and excellence.