How long for placements?

(45 Posts)
Bluedolphin1971 Sun 11-Nov-12 22:36:07

I have just begun the process of applying to fostering but yesterday my mum has put doubts into my head.

she said she doesn't think I should go for it purely because of the financial side of things. she said I'm leaving a job with a regular income for something that won't have a regular income.

This has really got me thinking. Obviously the SW (it's Barnardos we are applying with) can't give me a time of how long I will wait for a placement if we are accepted but it has got me thinking. I could probably go a couple of months without "wage" but not much longer than that.

I hate talking about money with regards to the fostering, but its something I have to consider. I don't want money to prevent me from doing something I really want to do. Does this make any sense?

Would love to know how long other foster carers have waited when going through Barnardos rather than through LA.

MoelFammau Sat 12-Jan-13 16:51:05

Can anyone give me any insights into fostering with Glasgow City Council? I've emailed but had no reply. Good and bad things appreciated. I especially need to know the financial side because I'm going have to give up my job (single parent). Need to be sure I can survive for the sake of my daughter.

I also contacted Barnardos at the same time and received an info pack the next day in the post, so I'm feeling a bit torn. On one hand I want to support the LA but if they can't even answer an email at the early inquiry stage, how are they going to be when I might really need them?

Any advice at all?

NanaNina Fri 23-Nov-12 23:14:32

Oh so glad Bonnie that someone with some professional wisdom has arrived on your doorstep. Is he/she (must be a she!) not that I'm prejudiced against male sws you understand.......able to help with the problems that you have had recently - I do hope so. Let me know via PM if you've time NNxx

bonnieslilsister Fri 23-Nov-12 21:36:16

Hey NN I have met a lot of nice social workers!! My problem recently has been (as you know) I felt very let down by something sw did that involved my family and someone breaking a confidence and the worst thing has been no one has really been prepared to discuss what happened until thanks Hallelujah thanks this lovely social worker came to talk.

NanaNina Fri 23-Nov-12 17:57:57

Ooh it's good to hear some LAs have their act together!

plainjayne123 Fri 23-Nov-12 13:33:52

I foster for a LA. I feel they have been supportive and offered me all the training I wanted and more. Most SWs do an amazing job and do their best. There will always be issues that arise with fostering due to the extremely emotional nature of work. I have no complaints. I think the financial rewards are fair, we get only a basic allowance.

NanaNina Fri 23-Nov-12 12:43:58

Hi CatH wrote a long reply to you last night and lost it -aaaaaaargh! I absolutely agree that fcs are indeed at the "sharp end" and care for some of the most emotionally damaged children in our society, and don't get a great deal of recognition for it. I spent my working life championing the rights of foster carers and when I retired in 2004 my line manager said in her speech "woe betide any sw that tries to see themselves as superior to fcs in NN's hearing"

In my view there is simply no excuse for lack of respect of foster carers but I have seen and heard this many times before. I was a tm mgr for a fostering & adoption team for the past 15 years of my working life and my team were all very experienced and committed people and respected all foster carers and adoptors, though obviously there were problems that needed sorting out from time to time.

Most of the complaints came from the child's sw and they were often young and inexperienced and sometimes were "parroting" what the bps were complaining about. IF it was something serious then the sw and the ssw and myself and the tm mgr for child's sw got together to plan the best way forward. I insisted on this so that we were all clear about the issue. However more often it was the sw not wanting to go against the bps and I would tell them that she/he must be straight with the bps and that the issue was not to be taken up with the fc (eg fc gives child wrong sort of pizza!!) to (fc doesn't like me child - I want her moved to another carer) and all sorts of other stuff.

Yes poor communication is very irritating to fcs and sometime sit can be lack of time, or prioritising things. I can't count the number of times i have left the office at 7.00 knowing that I should have phoned a fc or done something else that is still in the pile on my desk, and this was over 8 years ago, and the volume of work used to increase year on year and I know from my friends who are still at work that it is horrendous now and they are not able to properly support carers because of all the other stuff piled on them.

Yes I do see all the posts from fcs complaining about the LA and it makes me very sad that foster carers are being treated in sucn an unprofessional manner by sw staff - some of the things are unbelievable (not in the sense that I don't believe of course) but you know just awful. I think that the reasons are 2 fold. You will always have sws who don't put enough into the job (like any profession or occupation) some are highly competent and some woefully inadequate and everything in between.

Sorry to ride my hobby horse again but I honestly do believe that it is almost impossible now to deliver a good quality service because of the huge amounts of savings that have got to be made for the next 4 years, and probably beyond that as Osborne has his sums wrong again! Vacant posts are "frozen" because there is not enough funding to employ them and as I'm sure I said before LAs are being forced to raise the theshold for removing children from unsafe homes because they can't afford to look after them which is appalling and never been known before.

Birmingham City Council is on the brink of bankruptcy - I did some work for them a few years ago and the quality of social work was on the whole very poor but I felt sorry for the sws who were struggling with caseloads of 30+ and team managers who did not have the expertise for such a post. They were trying to run a service with 30% vacancy rates, high sickness rates with stress related illnesses, making more work for those trying to cope. High level of agency workers coming in, and therefore no continuity of sws with families. The first piece of work I did was assessing an aunt to care for her nieces and I was the 8th sw she had seen in 16 months!!

They are now having to find millions of pounds in addition to the savings they have to make, to pay women who were underpaid in the past as they were doing the same work as men and being paid less. Needless to say I am wholly in favour of these women getting the money that is owed to them, but it means unless the govt give them more money to pay these workers, they will be bankrupt. I think other LAs will follow suit to be honest, as it isn't possible to make such huge savings over 4 years plus and deliver an even satisfactory service. Remains to be seen how Cameron, Osborne et al will cope with this scenario of LAs going bankrupt.

Sorry I'll stop now as I do have a tendency to go on and on..........no worries CatH I wasn't taking your comments personally.

Oh and Bonnie has met a nice social worker!!!! Hallelujah!!

purpleloosestrife Thu 22-Nov-12 21:57:02

We went through LA and we officially "were available" at 9 a.m. on DAY1 - by 10.30 a.m we had a request for a placement.

All our social workers were/are lovely btw.

bonnieslilsister Thu 22-Nov-12 21:40:34

Today I met a lovely social worker for the second time. She has restored my faith in my LA. She has listened to me and understands where I am coming from. She can't undo what has been done but by listening she is making things alright again. It has really not taken much for me to feel better again smile

just thought i would tell you all

childatheart Thu 22-Nov-12 20:26:35

NanaNina,

Believe it or not I am not "anti LA" or anything of the sort and have every respect for certain people that operate within it, my problem is with the overall system and the way it makes me as an LA carer feel at times.

I like many others are at the "very sharp end" of this business on a day to day basis doing my very best to care and provide for children who have all sorts of needs and requirements and quite frankly the lack of support and understanding for the child and us as a family is at times quite shocking. We are now resigned to "going" it alone most of the time because unfortunately that is the way it has become (and yes we have gone down all the "help" routes), the list of problems, including lack of respect to us, constantly poor communication etc is endless but we won't give up because the children need us (and that's not being a martyr).

Please don't think I am having a go at people like yourself, look at the hundreds of posts from LA carers that all have the same frustrations as we do with the system, and to think we do this out of love not necessity.

scarlet5tyger Wed 21-Nov-12 16:21:59

The last time I worked it out I was on about £1.30 an hour - and this was including both the fee and the allowance.

It's topped up with benefits but they are also being cut next year. Infuriatingly the parents of the children I care for receive more in benefits alone than I do from both my fostering money and eligible benefits combined. Plus they get paid to attend contact whereas I have to pay to take their child to contact!

Bottersnike I've read a couple of sensible things from the fostering/adoption group too and just hope they can walk the walk as well as they can talk.

NanaNina Wed 21-Nov-12 13:25:17

OMG botter that is terrible that the fostering allowances don't add up to the minimum wage.....I know cuts are affecting adult services too, with thousands of disabled people, mentally ill people and the elderly not getting a service (have just read that in yesterday's Guardian) Hope you're right about the new children's minister but I don't trust any of the tories I'm afraid. We are becoming more and more like a third world country and the most viscous cuts don't start till next April, and we have people needing free food - never been known in the UK. Sorry I will be off on a political ramp so I'll stop!

Happylander Wed 21-Nov-12 10:53:48

My ex MIL does this as I think the longest she has not had kids for i about 2 months. At the moment she has 3 little ones and will be having them until mid next year when they will probably get split up and adopted. I am going to hate saying goodbye to them as they are great little kids. Hard job and well done for doing it. x

bottersnike Wed 21-Nov-12 10:18:11

Actually I think our LA pays reasonable allowances / fees compared to some other LAs, but it doesn't even amount to minimum wage, so we've come to the tough decision that we can't afford it.
Edward Timpson is the new Children's Minister; he took over from Tim Loughton in the latest cabinet reshuffle. His parents were foster carers and he was Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary group on Fostering and Adoption. They have published some really sensible reports in the last 12 months, so there is hope!
I am sure that we will return to fostering, but either I or dh needs to increase our earnings first so that it doesn't just get us further into debt!

bonnieslilsister Tue 20-Nov-12 22:04:42

That's a shame Botter I am so sorry this has happened sad Maybe in the future you will be able to go back to it.

NanaNina Tue 20-Nov-12 20:15:42

That's awful botter that you can't afford to foster. Are the rates so low that they don't cover the cost of day to day care of the child, and there should be a fee too....that is really worrying. I think all public services are going to suffer under this coalition and we haven't seen anything yet. Shocking. Who is Edward Timpson by the way?

bottersnike Tue 20-Nov-12 13:12:18

I really feel for everyone working in children's services atm. There just isn't enough money (or it's going elsewhere).
We have had to tell our FSW that we cannot afford to take on another placement because our cost of living has risen so much in the last few years (food, utilities, fuel etc). Without sounding too arrogant, we believe we are very good carers and are upset that we are currently unable to offer a child a good home.
Knowing that there are children out there in desperate situations is dreadful, and the current fostering system cannot cope, and will only struggle more in the coming years as so many carers in their 50s and 60s stop fostering.
Edward Timpson has a tough job ahead of him, and I will be very interested to see how he proposes to improve things.

NanaNina Tue 20-Nov-12 12:54:52

SM I honestly think you are being unfair to state that all LAs "make no effort to compete" with the IFAs. You say they (presumably LA sws) should be working as hard, and that there is no reason why they can't be as quick off the mark. I am aware you had a bad experience with Edinburgh but you don't have any evidence for what you are saying.

I am getting rather weary of trying to explain the difference between IFA sws and LA ones. Most LAs have recruitment and training teams but there is no point in them putting on training courses, knowing that they cannot afford new carers. This is NOT their fault. Sws have to "toe the line" with middle managers, and middle managers with senior managers, and senior managers with the director. The main thrust has always been to bring the budget in to its target, but now since the coalition, LAs are having to make massive savings, and sw vacancies (of which there are many) are now "frozen" as the budget constraints mean they cannot recruit to these vacant posts. As I thik I said earlier, things have become so drastic for LAs that they are having to raise the threshold for removal of a child because they canot afford to place them with fcs. How dreadful is that and I lay the blame fairly and squarely at the feet of Cameron and Osborne who are driving a coach and horses through all public services, not just Social Services. None of these matters are problems for the IFAs. as their budgets are very healthy because of the vast amounts paid to them by LAs.

CaH You say you are sick of hearing about budgets but that is the reality and sws have no say in bugets, that's a matter for the managers and I can assure you that 10 years ago as a manager I had big problems "juggling" the budget to keep to target. Since then as I have said above matters are now much much worse.

I know exactly what you mean about paying LA fcs the same as IFA carers and you probably "break even" and had many discussions (some hostile) with senior managers who would not countenance this as a consideration, always saying they did not have the capital outlay to pay all carers IFA rates. Had they been a business they could have got a bank loan to equalise matters but of course LAs can't do this.

I think I will say no more as you both seem to think that you know far more about how LAs should operate, and making derogatory comments about sws who too are sick of budget constraints believe me. I think it is a little arrogant to assume that you understand the workings of a LA SSd. I wouldn't presume to know anything about how many public services are run eg NHS, teaching, police, fire service etc., and what the particular problems are but I would certainly not make statements from "looking in from the outside" and which I could not evidence.

childatheart Mon 19-Nov-12 20:59:13

gallivantsaregood, I totally agree with your observations. As I have stated in previous posts on this subject until LA's treat there own carers with a degree of integrity and recognise them as a vital ingredient in the process then this trend will continue.

I am sick and tired of hearing about budgets. It is quiet simple, put the budgets and resources where they should go and recruit and retain a good level of LA F carer that has support and training and guess what ? You will have no need for any outside agency because it will all be kept in house and probably save money as well

Budgets are an easy opt out particularly when you keep financing the continual merry go round of IFA's, ( how can you keep telling LA carer's that there is no budget for this or for that yet in the same breath pay extortionate rates and provide more support and training for an IFA carer, no wonder LA carer's feel isolated and 2nd class !!)

Improve the "business model" of children's services and run it for the children who need it in an efficient and professional manner and not as a continual "kneejerk reaction"

scarlettsmummy2 Mon 19-Nov-12 20:32:51

Agree with what you are saying about why the IFAs are quicker off the mark, however, that doesn't change the fact that the LA's make no effort to compete. They should be working as hard. There is no reason why they can't be as quick off the mark- in Edinburgh they have a recruitment team whose job it is to solely recruit and train foster carers so it is not that they are too busy dealing with cases.

NanaNina Mon 19-Nov-12 19:57:34

I understand where you are coming from Gallivant and I have never blamed foster carers for going to the IFAs. It has been a wonder to me that there are any LA carers left. I'm just frustrated at any kind of privatisation really, especially one involving children because it is so unfair for the "IFA child" to get therapy and out of school activities if necessary and the "LA child" has no such hope.

However if LAs are raising the threshold to removing children and are only going to take in children where they know they can place "in house" that will clobber the IFAs but how awful for the child left to be abused or neglected,

In my view it's the govt that are the villian of the piece . There was an article in Saturday's Guardian "Take children into care more quickly" says Gove. The acting chief exec of BASW commented that bringing children into care is not cheap and to pretend that social workers can take on ever greater caseloads with ever diminishing resources is a miscalculation that Mr Gove must surely recognise." I think the govt are wanting hugely reduced budgets and better services...........how crazy is that.

gallivantsaregood Mon 19-Nov-12 13:59:37

Nana : I always enjoy reading your posts. I completely understand the situation and I knew before I aplied that the VO I am with did not have children of their own but essentially sold us to the LA's.

My social conscience made me first of all approach my LA who were completely incompetent, and that was before I even applied! I am sorry that it grates that IFA's VO's are essentially stealing money from LAs and I understand your frustration.

However for me, as a carer, wishing to give the best possible service to the children I care for, it is vital for me to know that I can access appropriate levels of training and suport in order to be an effective foster carer. Mt LA was not going to do that. I would have of course done my best but without support ( and I know from local carers that the LA are not good at support), that the children I look after would be cared for a loked after and supportedc by a stressed, struggling me. That in my book isn't acceptable.

Until things change and LA's find a way to provide the support, both emotional and financial that the IFAs and Vos provide then there will continue to be a disparity. I am not for a minute saying that all LA foster carers are not doing a good job. In fact I believe that for the most part all foster carers do the best that they can with what they have. Unfortunately for the kids looked after by most LA foster carers what their carers have to work with is less.........

So I do feel sad that people feel the need to work with IFAs and VOs and that having to use those services puts more pressure on already stretched LAs. But am I prepared to work for an LA who will provide less emotional support, less financial support which will ultimately result in our whole family life being more stressful and under pressure.....no way. The children I ( and everyone else) care for deserve the best care available and I can't provide that with the LA.....

NanaNina Mon 19-Nov-12 12:35:04

SM- I wonder if you have read my posts upthread as I have explained in some detail why the IFAs are "much quicker off the mark" and keen to get good carers. In case you haven't read it, it is because they arebusinesses and are in a hurry to recruit and sell carers to the LA, to line their pockets!! They do not get funds from elsewhere so they are totally dependent upon the sale of carers to the LA for extortionate rates. Many of them will be in trouble soon as LAs cannot afford to buy their families, and therefore they have done the only thing they can, and that is to raise the threshold for removing children from birthparents. It is a tragedy but what is the use of the LAs removing children if they know that they have insufficient funds to care for them. The govt doesn't care because its only interested in profits not people.

Gallivant I think exactly the same applies to the VOs.

I struggle to understand why so many people cannot understand this, which is why I write lengthy posts, but it seems they fall on stoney ground.

gallivantsaregood Mon 19-Nov-12 11:14:04

Scarlett: I am in Fife and am with a VO rather than the LA for almost exactly the same reasons!!

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 18-Nov-12 22:34:16

I didn't mean the actual social workers were inept- apologies. I mean their recruitment processes are. In that sense I do believe that the ifas are much quicker off the mark and keen to get good carers.

NanaNina Sun 18-Nov-12 14:03:01

Hi SM It does appear that you have had a very bad service (or non service) from your LA in Edinburgh. However I don't think it's fair to state that all LA family placements workers are inept, based on your experience of one LA. I also think it is something of an insult to social workers involved in LA fostering who work their socks off day in and day out to provide the best service they can with dwindling resources. That said I think the sw who told you that you coulnd't foster because you had a toddler was quite ridiculous.

Of course the IFAs "do it better" because they have a sufficient number of social workers to be able to recruit and prepare applicants and they are quick to do this because they want to be able to "sell" these families to the LA. On the contrary LA social workers are completely and utterly overloaded with work and this has got significantly worse since the coalition demanded huge savings in all public services (as I have detailed in my post above) Their work has to be prioritised and they are not able to respond quickly to applicants because they have to juggle whether to support original carers having a tough time, arranging annual reviews of carers, coping with allegations against carers, keeping records up to date etc etc and planning say 2 recruitment campaigns per year (and believe me this takes an enormous amount of time, when set alongside all the other tasks that need doing) and then finding time to carry out the preparation course and then carry out lengthy assessments on applicants, and the time taken in organising a panel date and attending panel with the applicants.

IFAs provide a very good service for carers and children. Carers are paid far higher rates than LA carers and will receive good support because the IFA sw has the time available because she has no other statutory work to overload her or him. Additional costings are included eg therapy for children, education if not in school, and other things are provided because they are all costed to the LA, which of course makes huge dents in their budgets. Many carers don't realise this. I have seen IFA directors become exceedingly wealthy, believe me out this privatisation model, but this is what this govt wants, and at the same time, it wants to slash LA budgets, pay out huge amounts to the IFAs and expect better service from the LAs.............it can't be done.

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