Why are we so short of foster carers?

(110 Posts)
Fosterangel Thu 16-Aug-12 20:38:27

Our LA admits that it is desperately short of foster carers. Where are all the amazing potential foster carers? What is the reason for holding back? Why are we not recruiting enough foster carers or retaining the foster carers we have?

MsCellophane Thu 16-Aug-12 20:42:23

Most people can't afford to give up work to become foster carers

Also, being overweight or a smoker will stop you becoming one

I've looked into it but if I don't have a child and don't get paid I can't afford my house

HaitchJay Thu 16-Aug-12 20:43:28

Money, people can't afford to give up work?
People get stretched too far outside their zone (eg registered for 0-5 and get a teen)and give up?

gallivantsaregood Fri 17-Aug-12 12:02:33

Yip all of the above plus as money gets tighter support suffers and carers struggle. Often the children being looked after have very complex needs, there is little/no therapy/support for them and that combined with the reduction in support for carers means everyone suffers, including the children..........not a good place at the moment. sad

Cazzmags Fri 17-Aug-12 12:09:36

Our LA is the same, we have been reliably informed they are "in crisis". They are spending huge (and I mean huge) amounts of money flooding the local agencies with children due to a chronic shortage of carers and there is sadly no quick fix.

I agree finance is a lot to do with it. The allowance is not generous and good foster carers do not make money out of the children they care for but there is a huge stigma around discussing finance at all particularly during the assessment process. In our LA money is a dirty word and whilst we all understand that the assessment process needs to identify those out to "make money" it discriminates against those of us who want to foster but aren't loaded and who with the best will in the world can't afford to support these children without adequate funding.

A friend of mine (who is an outstanding carer) is about to give up fostering due to the frustrations surrounding communication. I'm sure not all SW's are the same and I've met some good ones, however there are some terrible ones who treat foster carers like some kind of sub species. I'm old enough, articulate enough and (I think) smart enough to put them back in their box and keep on advocating for the children in our care but it is tiresome and soul destroying to keep on doing it and wasting precious energy and time on them when I need to focus on the children. I honestly think this is probably why some give up and we've come very close to it ourselves.

The whole system in particular the use of agencies and the money it costs need to be addressed and quick. I'm afraid as things stand it's going to get much worse before it gets better.

ValiumQueen Fri 17-Aug-12 12:10:14

I have found getting clear information about finances has been nigh on impossible. I need to know we will not be homeless if we do not have a foster child for a period, or even if we do. I would need to give up my job, which would put is in a very vulnerable position financially.

childatheart Fri 17-Aug-12 22:06:15

The way to get more foster carers ?? Simple really- Recognize it as a professional vocation!! If you wan't the best care for children and wan't to encourage the right calibre of person/family to do it then you have to treat it with the recognition it deserves.

There are so many who wan't to do it but can't afford to and I am afraid that while LA'S continue to rely on goodwill and the kind hearts of people then the situation will not improve ( Why should a child's future depend only on a kind heart or some kind of goodwill surely it is worth a lot more than that !! )

I am not saying treat it as an industry and I agree that the stringent checks are totally necessary to ensure only those genuine people who wan't to help a child are approved but the way the system operates at present is to be frank, quite shocking

I am tired of hearing the same old statements about finance and resources, in our LA for example they are spending huge amounts of money placing children with local agencies who in turn are offering foster carers a career, training, retaining fee's etc ( As a LA foster carer we almost feel second class ) the ironic thing is that LA's manage to find the money and resources to fund all of this whilst struggling to find there own FC's.

When will somebody with a brain realize that if LA's recruited and treated carers as professionals with the recognition to go with it then it would drastically improve the levels of LA's carers and the need for agencies would be greatly diminished (with the current system the La's are actively "bankrolling" the agency system)

Sadly though I think that it will get far worse before it gets better.

Rubirosa Fri 17-Aug-12 22:09:10

It needs to be a well paid and recognised profession. Paying foster carers on a similar level to nurses, teachers and social workers would be a start!

No one talks about those awful social workers just going into it for the money, so why is there such a taboo around paying foster carers properly confused

ArcticRain Fri 17-Aug-12 22:14:04

I would love to be a foster career, but I/our family can't afford to take the cut in wages .

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 17-Aug-12 22:18:48

I don't understand why local authorities don't just pay the same as the agencies to begin with? Surely that would be a quick way to reduce their overall costs!

scarlet5tyger Sat 18-Aug-12 10:05:07

I'm another who can't understand why LA don't pay the same as agencies. I receive around £200 per week per child. My friend who fosters for an agency receives £300 per week per child. Yes it's more, but not vastly more. I'm told the agency themselves receive £2000 (yes, two thousand pounds) per week per child. Ten times more than me!!!. Surely this situation is wrong??

I may be missing something but wouldn't it be better for my LA to pay ME £300, who has worked hard for them for years, and still save £1700?

Fosterangel Sat 18-Aug-12 18:02:49

We have been qualified LA foster carers for about 3 years. Our LA is offering cash incentives if fosterers refer a friend, and consult us endlessly just lately on how to recruit and retain carers, but still we are "in crisis". We are losing more and more good carers. Those that remain look after some of the most damaged children 24/7. It does, IMHO, relate to money (not enough) and professionalism (not recognized enough by LA's despite the rhetoric). The remuneration for LA foster carers (where the "crisis" is!) is disgraceful bearing in mind the high standards of care we give. I have felt for a long time that the pay needs to reflect our professionalism and be closer to that of a nurse, teacher or social worker (I agree with both Rubirosa & childatheart's posts on this) and then maybe we will be seen as a profession to aspire to and start to attract all those waiverers with space in their hearts and homes. Whilst we were going through the training (Skills to Foster) it was emphasised by the SW trainers that foster caring was now regarded as a career rather than a "calling". Whilst LA foster carers are seen as a poor relation the agencies will continue to pick up the slack as LA carers resign.

bottersnike Sun 19-Aug-12 13:25:01

I agree wholeheartedly that fostering needs to be seen as a professional career, with foster carers being paid and trained accordingly.
We are seriously considering not taking another placement because it doesn't pay enough, and we end up working all hours just to pay the bills. In an age where two good incomes are required to satisfactorily run a house and raise children, fostering is in a precarious position.
Let's hope the government listens to all the feedback and consultation they are requesting!

Noren Sun 19-Aug-12 14:58:25

I've always wanted to do it but I love my job and don't see how I could do both. I think there should be an option for people in work to train as foster carers then take sabbaticals with a guaranteed return to their job afterwards, sort of like maternity leave. Then more people could do some foster caring. Or pay better for it, perhaps, although it's not just about the money for me, it's about not feeling like I'd have my career any longer.

bonnieslilsister Sun 19-Aug-12 16:20:45

I usually have 2 children in placement and the money is good (very hard work though) as it is supplemented by tax credits but the problem is when I dont have anyone (the time for this is coming very soon as children are moving on) and we (me and my kids) live on savings and I worry then and think I might be better in some more stable working environment until the next child arrives smile It would make so much difference to be paid a wage and treated as a professional. None of us really like talking about money but we all have to live and I agree with Rubirosa nobody criticises social workers/nurses/doctors etc for thinking about money.

NanaNina Sun 19-Aug-12 23:05:52

I think the responses to this query from the OP have more or less answered her. I have 30 years experience as a sw and tm mgr in Fostering & Adoption and have been retired from LA work for 8 years.

For as long as I can remember there has been a shortage of good foster carers, but once the IFAs came along, and started to syphon off our carers with the promise of much better pay and support etc then many of them left the LA and why wouldn't they really. In fact we wondered back then how we managed to retain any of our foster carers.

Our fcs were asking us the same question as is being asked here "how come you have the money to pay the IFA carers but not us" and this of course was a highly relevant query, which we took to senior managers but always got the same response "we can't afford it - we haven't the finance to do this" our arguments about losing more and more of our carers fell on stoney ground. Back then we were not using IFAs that much, and only for hard to place children, but i know that that situation has changed a lot and will as you all say only get worse.

We fought for so many years (it seems) for foster carers to be paid an annual salary so that they had security and that this would greatly increase the chance of recruiting and retaining carers, but no go, as the response was always the same "we can't afford it" - I got so mad at one of these meetings I said "well what you could do, is get rid of all the fostering social workers and tm mgrs which would release enough money for all carers to be paid the same as IFA carers" ther was a lot of shuffling about and this was quickly passed over. I realise that they couldn't just make us redundant but I think I just got to the point of frustration at the picture we could see unfolding before us.

The thing is though that many carers who went to IFAs didn't realise that their allowances and all the support bought in for the children, play therapy, support with education and allsorts of other things that were good for the children, but were charged to the LA. These IFA owners/directors are making enormous profits and I know one of the first social workers who saw this gap in the market and was something of an entrepenur (awful social worker!) set up one of the first IFAs in the shire county were I worked and is now a multi-millionaire and has sold the company and lives a life of luxury. Thing is whatever govt is in power they have encouraged this kind of privatisation and this coalition will not rest until all public services are privatised.

I think someone made a good point about treating foster carers as part of the team, rather than "childminders" and many of the young inexperienced social workers and those without their own kids, had no idea at all of the stress that fostering involves and perceive themselves to be somehow superior to foster carers. My team were often involved with trying to educate social workers about the demands of foster care and many social workers did understand, but many of them didn't and this is another area that needs sorting. I feel a bit pessimistic though hearing of all the things in these posts that I and others fought for over a decade ago are still the same.

There is of course a national shortage of LA carers and that I believe is because more and more IFAs are springing up. When they first started they would only take experienced carers, but then many of them took new carers, though many of these placements ended, because brand new carers were getting very difficult kids from all over the country. Obviously LAs willonly use IFAs when they are desparate because there is no option - if there is no "in house" placement, you can try neighbouring authorities but usually no go, and so it had to be an IFA because you can't send an abused/neglected child home because there is no placement.

I think the other thing is that since the death of Peter Connelly, there has been a 50% rise in applications for Care Orders, as social workers were no longer willing to take the risk of supporting families when being constantly worried about them (and who could blame them, as they are vilified when a child dies) and to prevent this you would have to be with the family 24 hours per day! and so of course the need for placements for allthese children have exacerbated an already "crisis" situation.

bonnieslilsister Sun 19-Aug-12 23:16:23

Another amazing post from NanNina thanks

NanaNina Mon 20-Aug-12 11:57:15

Thank you Bonnie and the flowers smell lovely! Tbh I just feel so damn frustrated and angry that nothing has changed in the 8 years since I retired from LA work. The thing is though that social services has always been under resourced and budget constraints are behind everything really.
I blame the politicians - it was bad enough 8 years ago and now this coalition have come along and the posh boys are slashing public service budgets and at the same time expecting improved services. It's not just social services is it, it's all public services, and they are now selling off school playing fields - they'd sell their granny I reckon if they could get a good price for her!!

Better stop or I will rant on for ever..........!

Fosterangel Mon 20-Aug-12 16:34:07

Thank you NanaNina (and to all those who responded with heartfelt passion for the looming crisis) for such insight. I sort of guessed that this was not a "new" crisis. I understand much better now that it has been bubbling away and growing for years and that good people have foretold of this but have been put down. The whole situation is political (privatisation) and affected by economic forces (supply and demand) so how this "crisis" in LA foster caring will be solved is a bit of a "biggie". I hope the government listens and acts upon the experiences of those who do the actual fostering.
I am guessing that by involving us in asking for our suggestions to improve services the LA wants to make us feel included and less likely to jump ship. Helpful, available SW's that treat us like we actually know the children and have an IQ above a goldfish (sorry to goldfish lovers everywhere) would be a better incentive. But that is for another post........... xx

NanaNina Mon 20-Aug-12 18:34:18

Hi fosterangel and you are quite right about the political dimension to all this - I have no idea how this crisis is going to be solved, and there is the same crisis in recruitment and retention of social workers. Some of the inner cities are running at 30% vacancy rates, and many on sick leave for stress related illnesses. They can't even get in agency staff to cover any more because they can't afford to pay them, so posts are frozen and everyone suffers.

I don't think there's a hope in hell of the govt listening. They want privatisation of all public services, so slashing the budgets, meaning they can no longer function, there will be no option than to bring in some big business provider with loads of cash and they will sell it off. They have already sold off part of the Probation Service. Then social workers and foster carers will have a choice whether to work for the privatised system or go join the jobless queue. After all this is what is happening with schools isn't it - they don't have sufficient funding because the govt has slashed it and so the only way they can survive is by agreeing to becoming an Academy and then the big profiteers can have things their way, and the state will be nothing to do with it. Half of all secondary schools are academies, and the aim is for 100% in this parliament. They are starting on primaries too.

Of course none of this addresses your point about social workers and they do range from extremely competent and woefully inadequate and everything in between, but I guess this is true for other occupations. Your goldfish comment made me smile. I used to get young newly qualified social workers coming to me to complain about foster carer x and sadly many of their team mgrs supported them. I did suggest that we did some joint training, and agreed to organise it and it worked pretty well. I did point out that foster carers are like all of us, they have their own ups and downs in family life, and stresses and strains of caring for some very damaged children. I stressed they are not Mr and Mrs Perfect - they were human!! Oh god are the LA still asking for your views - I can't count the number of times this happened and it frustrated foster carers as they knew that nothing would change whatever they said.

All we can hope is that this is a one term parliament but most of the damage will be irreversible by then.

Ah well I will finish as I could rant all night............!! Oh finally don't ever forget the stability and love and care that you are giving to these children that will stay with them through their lifetime. That's what it's all about isn;t it.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Mon 20-Aug-12 18:50:19

How many people have one or two spare rooms?
I think this is a huge practical barrier.

boredandrestless Mon 20-Aug-12 18:56:41

It's the having a spare room IMO.

I've applied to be a foster carer in the past and was part way through the process when I realised my partner at the time (now EX) was just not going into it for the right reasons.

Now I am a single parent and would happily do it but I don't have a spare room and can't afford to move to a house with an extra room as it would mean moving costs and higher rent!

roundtable Mon 20-Aug-12 19:04:20

Yy, I read the op and immediately thought spare room. I was fostered and want to foster but I don't have the space.

Is an awful state of affairs.

Mrbojangles1 Tue 21-Aug-12 09:56:46

I also would like to ad that its not helapful that virtually every LA have diffrent rules surrounding the situation people can foster

My la allowes people to foster 0-2 with out a spare room were as otherd dont

My la dose not allow people who have not had children themselves to foster babies some las do

The whole thing is insane

Also the fact that my view which is made very clear is not wanted even though some of the sw dont have children and have no knowldge of child development

And this issue of being put on hold if you dont do as your told out of order

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Tue 21-Aug-12 10:17:30

I can see no reason why I shouldn't short term foster babies once my dc5 is in school
The baby would be in my room, my children will all be in school leaving me free for reviews and contacts, baby would be part of a family pre adoption.

But it's never going to happen is it? That is sad. I would particularly like to care for children with complex needs.

bonnieslilsister Tue 21-Aug-12 10:31:49

Why wouldn't it happen MrsD ? When I started fostering I was in a rented small house for 3 yrs until our divorce settlement and we moved back home and I had babies in my bedroom, sometimes 2 babies and sometimes under 3 yr olds. It wasnt ideal but it worked for us and sw were very reasonable. You have a lot of love to give and would be ideal smile

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Tue 21-Aug-12 10:40:15

Thanks bonnies that is very kind smile

I have made several enquiries and the lack of spare room has always been a big no no.
I have tried local LAs and agencies and had the same answer.

They have all been really enthusiastic because of my experience but we can't get past the room.
As I have 3 dcs at home (youngest only 2) and one with SN in a three bedroom, we won't have a spare till the two youngest move out and that could be 20 years away yet!

I would live to do family link fostering but we don't have that service in our borough. We really, really need it. I work with the families who would benefit most.

bonnieslilsister Tue 21-Aug-12 11:26:11

I like the look of the family link fostering, not seen it before. Think NanaNina would like that too!

What a shame about the room situation. Have you explained it is actually recommended by professionals that you share a room when the child is under 6 months. Also it does make it so much nicer for a child who might be disturbed being in a strange environment to know there is someone there at night. I hate all these rules and regulations that don't take into account the childs best interest.

NanaNina Tue 21-Aug-12 18:40:38

In the LA I worked in, it was fine to have a baby under 6 months in room with carers, in fact it was encouraged and as you say Bonnie it is recommended by health care professionals.

Not sure what the family link fostering is Bonnie, especially as you think I might like it!!

bonnieslilsister Tue 21-Aug-12 18:57:38

Hi NanaNina I just did a search and this is a quote from the website

*Fostering Together has a strong reputation for caring for children with Disabilities and Attachment difficulties. The 'Attachment Project' is run by very experinced and highly qualified staff with direct therapeutic parenting experience. The project works across adoption and fostering placements to enable good outcomes for children and their carers.

Foatering Together does not believe in making money out of children’s disadvantages, therefore whilst Foster Carer’s and staff are paid comparably to other Fostering Agencies, our profits are channelled back into developing our services for children and young people, Foster Carer’s and Local Authorities.*

So I thought it was probably up your street grin

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Tue 21-Aug-12 19:07:58

nana but would the LA have approved a prospective FC for assessment if they didn't have a spare room? The reason I have been given is that you wouldn't be only approved for babies but for 0+ so you have to have the room. Perhaps more specialised categories of FC before approval rather than after is the answer?

Family Link is when a FC is allocated to a family who need regular and long term care. It's is for children with disabilist rather than purely CP reasons.
So the child can be with the Carer every other weekend for the whole of their childhhood (for example)

Unfortunately where it doesnt exist families can be offered s.20 which is totally inappropriate and puts them off asking for support again.

Bonkerz Tue 21-Aug-12 19:13:49

I would live to foster. I am currently a childminder and have lots of experience with children who have extra needs etc as my own son has autism and I've worked with lots of children over the last 16 years in my career. I am overweight and don't have a spare bedroom! That's it! I can look after a child all day everyday but I can't foster!!!!! angrysad

Vaginald Tue 21-Aug-12 19:17:56

I would low to foster, I personally feel I'm too young to take all ages currently (I'm 25 as is dh). Dh also worries about the impact it may have on family as a foster child could potentially need a huge amount of one to one nurturing depending on their background, which would be harder while our children are young. I hope I can foster in around 10 years time.

Vaginald Tue 21-Aug-12 19:18:52


Oh & also, lack of spare room!

bonnieslilsister Tue 21-Aug-12 19:25:38

ooops maybe I have it wrong I was looking at www.familylinkfostering.co.uk

hanahsaunt Tue 21-Aug-12 19:27:46

Fostering is something I'm seriously considering at the moment, once we've moved house. I need to speak to our LA but I wonder if I would have too many caveats - we would like 0-1yo (mainly for the room sharing thing - no practical spare room since the one we have is in an annex at the bottom of the garden), sensitive to the impact on my others with one just starting at secondary and one at primary having an older child (at this point in time) is potentially disruptive in an already disrupted (and peri-pubertic) time. I also wonder if it's possible to specify that we would like emergency, very short-term placements. That all sounds terribly demanding but painfully aware of the very long term impact of parachuting older children into a peri-teenage family and the ability to hand back at the end of the placement.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Tue 21-Aug-12 19:29:48

I doubt you are wrong bonnie different names are used for different schemes and they change over time smile

bronze Tue 21-Aug-12 19:30:43

For me it's money/space. I have considered it in the past but we can barely to house our own children.

expatinscotland Tue 21-Aug-12 20:25:14

Money and spare room. We have to downsize soon as we are now under-occupying since our child's death.

Vaginald Tue 21-Aug-12 20:29:07

Oh expat, sorry to hear that sad

SecretNutellaMedallist Tue 21-Aug-12 20:29:14

Expat- they are making you get a smaller house because A has died?

Shocked beyond belief.

bonnieslilsister Tue 21-Aug-12 20:36:12

So sorry to hear that Expat sad

Like SecretNutella I am very shocked at the callousness of this.

expatinscotland Tue 21-Aug-12 20:37:25

We'll lose too much of our HB to stay.

charlottehere Tue 21-Aug-12 20:40:14

part fo me would like to do it. reasons for not, DH is dead against, impact on my own Dcs, currently couldn't as pregnant, haven't got a spare room, not sure I could cope.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Tue 21-Aug-12 20:41:54

Expat I am so sorry. I had no idea. How cruel. sad

wonderstuff Tue 21-Aug-12 21:12:14

I would love to foster, but not having a spare room is the issue here. Money would be tight too. In days gone past I understand that foster carers qualified for council housing with the space to allow them to foster. It seems the whole system supporting looked after children is underfunded and neglected. It isn't a vote winner is it. We as a society need to step up because the consequences of getting it wrong are so dire. I do think there is an element of ramping up failure in order to privatise in all sections of the public sector. We are seeing it in schools. So sad to watch these kids in school being pushed from pillar to post with inadequate support. Need more funding, more support..

Gatorade Tue 21-Aug-12 21:35:41

I am hoping you all might be able to tell me that the Health Visitor I happened to talk to about fostering is wrong....

Basically I would like to be a foster carer once my DD is 2 years old (I believe she needs to be at least this age) if I decide not to go back to work. I wouldn't be doing it for the money, I would happily take in children (short to medium term) for no remuneration at all. We have plenty of space/spare bedrooms and if I don't return to work plenty of time to support a child.

Now for the issue, that I am hoping is a HV mistake. The HV said it is very unlikely I would be considered for two reasons:
- Firstly, we are a mixed race couple (my DH is British but ethnically Chinese, I am white British), she said that we could only foster a child of the same ethnic mix as our own DC and there wouldn't be any demand (I can't believe this is true, although I have heard that this does have an impact on adoption).
- Secondly, we would be offering a child 'too much' and it would be cruel to put a foster child into our family as they may then have to go back to less (I again find this odd, especially as I would be looking to take babies who wouldn't be aware of 'material' surroundings etc)

Can anyone who is more clued up about this than me shed any light? Is it worth applying anyway?

scarlet5tyger Tue 21-Aug-12 22:31:51

Gatorade that sounds ridiculous. I'd definitely speak to your LA as I don't agree with anything your HV has told you.

I think to some extent Family Link fostering is being used by my LA - in that FCs are encouraged to keep in touch and be there to support families once their FC have been returned home. I'll quickly point out that there is NO financial reward, or true support, for this though. Once again SS are relying on the strong bond that develops between FC and child and the correct assumption that it's hard to let a child go even when they physically leave us.

And to all those people being put off fostering because of the no spare room "rule", you definitely need to check this out with more than one LA as it certainly isn't the case where I live. It may be more that your LA doesn't need baby foster carers, most LAs are in more of a "crisis" for older children (who obviously do need their own room!)

Vaginald Tue 21-Aug-12 23:37:09

I would ideally like to foster an older child, so again the spare room issue comes into play. Very hard!

bonnieslilsister Tue 21-Aug-12 23:42:53

Gatorade I would definately speak to your LA. I think your HV is wrong.

Scarlet I can think of some families who would only be interested in ongoing support if there was money involved!! Also, how do you do this when you have another child?

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 07:36:07

bonnies I'm interested in your point about families only being interested in ongoing support/contact if there were financial rewards. I'm only at the beginning of my research into foster care and this suprises me. Personally I wouldn't mind receiving no money at all even when the child is living with me, and afterwards, if contact was requested I certainly wouldn't want any money for this. So to my question, do a lot of foster carers do it for the money as oppose to purely helping children in need (I don't believe this to be true but I could be mistaken)? Or does it tend to be a necessity that a lot of carers are paid as they couldn't afford to do it otherwise?

EightiesChick Wed 22-Aug-12 07:50:39

I would be interested but giving up my job, which I love, would be a wrench and would create financial instability. Agree that fostering should be a salaried job with proper respect and career progression.

expatinscotland Wed 22-Aug-12 08:29:39

'So to my question, do a lot of foster carers do it for the money as oppose to purely helping children in need (I don't believe this to be true but I could be mistaken)? Or does it tend to be a necessity that a lot of carers are paid as they couldn't afford to do it otherwise? '

I can't speak for everyone, but many cannot afford to feed and keep another child without more money coming in, particularly if one of you has to give up her/his job to do so.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 08:33:43

Fostering a child is a very expensive undertaking.
There is no way we could afford to do it again without appropriate renumeration.
It crippled us financially last time until we received an allowance.
It's such an important job. It should be recognised as such.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 08:36:44

gatorade do you understand the costs involved?

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 08:41:43

Do I understand the costs involved, maybe not. I maybe incorrectly assume it would cost what it costs to look after my own DD (clothes, food, toys, groups and activities) + extra costs associated with attending meetings and so on. I am happy to be corrected as as I have mentioned I'm only at the start of looking into this.

I guess I would be choosing to do this instead of having a third/forth child, which we could afford to do.

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 08:44:56

Just to clarify I'm in no way saying it shouldn't be paid, I imagine this would lead to a terrible reduction on the number of carers and I don't think that those who can afford to do it without remuneration make the best carers! I just wonder if it should be more means tested so those with less resources actually get more money, whilst others who can afford it get less.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 09:06:02

I wasn't being hostile gator. It was a genuine question smile

There is also the question of why a family would/should be expected to beat the costs on behalf of the birth family and the local authority.

I could give you an example
In one day we had to pack a bag with enough milk and several changes of clothes.
Take baby across London
Find parking for several hours
Wait then take baby home.

That was a pretty simple, uncomplicated day.

We had to pay for the milk
We had bought the clothes
London parking
Four hours waiting around

Then when we got home the bag would have several unopened but unusable bottles of milk and the others would be missing.
Nappies would be used.
Baby changed into new outfit and several items 'lost' ie babygros, socks, tops, hat, suncream, etc

So petrol, parking, nappies, milk, replacement milk, replacement bottles, replacement clothes.

Baby had four of thse contacts a week for 18 months.

Plus the reviews, clinic and hospital appointments and social worker visits.

It cost a lot of money. But I am honestly not being in anyway hostile. Just sharing an experience ;)

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 09:16:40

I know you're not being hostile (you're actually being very helpful), and I fully admit I'm very naieve about the costs involved.

I can see from your example that it can be expensive, I can also see that logistically it is probably easier/more cost efficient for LA's to pay a standard rate rather than adopt an expense reimbursement policy.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 09:33:53

Oh gosh I can't imagine how that would work out. Can you imagine the receipts! grin

Don't be put off.
But I really think FC needs to be given the important staus it deserves.I think that would help weed out some of those who shouldn't be doing it iyswim.

bonnieslilsister Wed 22-Aug-12 10:19:12

Gatorade In answer to your remark Bonnie I'm interested in your point about families only being interested in ongoing support/contact if there were financial rewards

I am really sorry I wasn't very clear when I wrote my post. I was saying to Scarlet that many of the 'birth' families whose children have been fostered and then returned to them might only be interested in on going support if there was money involved.

This was in response to Scarlet saying I think to some extent Family Link fostering is being used by my LA - in that FCs are encouraged to keep in touch and be there to support families once their FC have been returned home

I totally agree fostering should be rewarded by a wage otherwise it precludes so many good people from fostering.

scarlet5tyger Wed 22-Aug-12 10:25:37

Hi Bonnieslilsister, I'm giving ongoing support at the moment and do have another child in placement. A lot of the support is via telephone - often parents just need reassurance - but we also regularly meet and there's been no impact on my current placement as I choose the places we meet to be places I would have taken new child anyway.

I suppose it helps that I fully supported the child's move home to his mum and dad, and that we all got on - I can't imagine how I'd have coped if I'd been asked to help some of my previous placements' parents, especially when I didn't agree with their move.

Can i just ask, are all the potential foster carers who are being put off fostering because of the spare room issue thinking of fostering babies? I'm assuming so as you wouldn't want to share your own room with an 8 year old, nor would you want an unknown, possibly very damaged child, to share with a child of your own. If so, you need to be very aware that most LA don't have a shortage of baby carers and it can be many months between placements - with no money. This is likely to be the reason so many of you are being told you need a spare room. Looking at it from your LA point of view, if they had to choose between spending time and money training a foster carer who could only ever take a very young baby, or on a foster carer who could take a child of any age, they're always going to go with the one who can offer them more. In this day and age money talks very loudly indeed unfortunately.

SecretNutellaMedallist Wed 22-Aug-12 10:30:02

It is something DH and I have talked about, but we cannot afford to lose one income.

bronze Wed 22-Aug-12 10:46:23

No I was thinking of a slightly older child. Would have to younger than my youngest though and hence the need for a spare room. I would assume that all the people who said they couldn't because of lack of spare room had also considered older children.

scarlet5tyger Wed 22-Aug-12 11:13:38

Bronze, then you can see why you'd need a spare room, yes? It's not always just because the LA is being awkward.

bronze Wed 22-Aug-12 11:17:27

I don't think anyone was saying the la were being difficult. I got the idea that most realised that an older child would need their own room and that's why they are unable to foster. Or that the only other option is to take on babies.

scarlet5tyger Wed 22-Aug-12 11:23:23

Sorry, I think I was swayed by the poster who said they'd tried numerous LAs and been told by each that they needed a spare room. I was just trying to explain why that might be.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 12:07:07

Scarlet I do understand the reasons why smile
But it is still a barrier.
I will never be able to foster older children because my youngest is two and I am 45. My two and four year old share a room and my 9 year old is unlikely to be able to leave home in the way we expect our children to iyswim.

My strength and experience is with v.young, traumatised and drug affected and/or disabled children.
I am a specialist child development worker and would love to be able to work one to one with babies before adoption whilst giving them a home.

Our family set up is not suitable for older children. I recognise my limitations entirely. It's just a shame I can't work to my strengths.

That is why I wonder if a more specialised approach could work, the way some LAs work with therapeutic placements with much older children?

Although I know babies stand a much better chance of adoption IME they also miss out a lot on the services available to non LAC with delays and disabilities. It's something I am keen to work on in my LA. the issue seems to lie with the home borough not liaising or being unaware of the services in the fostering borough. And that just when we get to children, they are moved.

But that is another thread I suppose smile

childatheart Wed 22-Aug-12 18:21:23

The more I read on this topic the more evident the problems are.

As I said earlier Fostering should not be relied upon as a charity or goodwill, for god sake we are talking about a childs future, a whole generation. From what I can see the whole system from top to bottom is in need of an entire overhaul (stating the obvious !!).

Furthermore, LA's need to stop pussy footing around and recognise the professional role FC's undertake and treat it as such, because without them the sytem would collapse!

Sorry to rant but where children are concerned I am bemused at the appearing to care when infact only "lip service" is being played.

Panadbois Thu 23-Aug-12 08:25:08

I'm only just realising how expensive it is to look after babies. I get roughly £20 a day to look after our LO ( an absolute doll) to pay for milk, food, nappies, washing powder, activities etc etc.

Now, if you get a new placement who arrives with nothing, then LA will give foster carers a lump sum to pay for a set of new clothes. Well babies new clothes every few months, 3-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18 - 24, so I'm stuggling with this!

Our LA do not approve of second hand clothes or hand me downs for LAC so it's a real problem. (I just know that someone's going to point out that some clothes will fit some babies for longer, I know this, but when in the past I have moved a LO on with some clothing that were labled for younger children, even though they still fit, I was critisiced)

bonnieslilsister Thu 23-Aug-12 13:13:38

I know pan I can never understand how you get less money for a baby than an older child. I think it should be the same for all ages but that is another thread

scarlet5tyger Thu 23-Aug-12 14:55:21

I'm surprised to hear that about second hand clothes Panadbois. My LA has a monthly support group and we have a table there where carers can put things they no longer need (clothes, toys, books, even high chairs and sterilisers on occasion) and other foster carers can take them.

As you point out, babies grow out of clothes really quickly so often there are baby clothes on there that have barely been worn.

As I've been fostering for a fair few years now I have a large stock of clothes that I've kept and use again. I wouldn't be able to afford to completely kit out a baby without this supply or the support group table.

MrsDevere, I think some LAs do have specialist foster carers - I know a neighbouring LA to mine pays extra for FCs who take on drug addicted babies. Might be worth you asking around once your 2 year old is older? I wish I had as I take in drug addicted babies at the same pay rate as I take in a child with no specific special needs!

Panadbois Thu 23-Aug-12 15:27:56

To be fair, I have received clothes from another FC and also a Support worker, with my social worker's knowledge, but she said, " i didn't hear that" as if to say she was turning a bling eye.

I will be holding on to baby's clothing from now on to use again i have been known to buy summer hats from car boots as I refuse to buy new ones only to loose them every five minutes

Panadbois Thu 23-Aug-12 17:58:37

The support group table is a great idea, I'll bring it up next meeting.

bronze Thu 23-Aug-12 18:18:28

I didn't know that about the clothes. My children dont get new most of the time as we can't afford to. They are clean and well dressed though. It's another reason why we couldnt foster.

Mrbojangles1 Thu 23-Aug-12 21:29:08

Hi our la dont care about clothing as long as the clothing dosent of course look seconed hand

I often by job lots of baby clothing off ebay i keep the stuff that is too small and the stuff that can fit moves on with them

Again this is why we need things standised my la only give £500 for baby equipent and thats it not per baby either the stuff i buy is always good as new any way

My sister gave me a loaf of stuff baby bouncer and my sw diffent give a hoot she was just like can she gove you more so they didnt have. To pay me the money

bonnieslilsister Thu 23-Aug-12 21:45:19

I am sure the babies don't mind either MrB

PuggyMum Fri 24-Aug-12 12:25:44

I would love to foster. We have 6 bedrooms (not a stealth boast!) we have an annexe which we rent out.... Bought specifically in the knowledge that we'll be supporting parents as some point in the future!!!

I would give up work tomorrow to foster. Unfortunately we need both incomes to pay the bills and stress and worry about money on top of looking after children who will bring their own stress and worry doesn't a happy foundation make. If I could be guaranteed my salary through fostering I would do it... The evenings and weekends would be 'goodwill/charity'.

Alas I can see it will be a long time before I can afford to offer my services seriously.

Very frustrating as I feel this is my calling.

Panadbois Fri 24-Aug-12 12:59:14

I am only able to afford to do it because I was only working 15 hrs a week anyway. I definately wouldn't have been able to do it if I had been working full time.

DH is already panicking what do we do when this LO leaves as we can't afford being without a placement.

Agree that SS and LA shouldn't be banking on people's good will alone. If they want us to be everything to these children, carer, nurse, therapist, psychologist, then pay us a decent wage!

bonnieslilsister Fri 24-Aug-12 19:57:42

As far as I can see, if you want to guarantee your income with fostering and you have the room, you could do long term fostering. A child, or a sibling group, would be placed with you until they are 18 (in our LA it is 18). They are very carefully matched with you and your family so there might be a little wait until the right match is made but there would be notice so you could give your notice to quit work.

NanaNina Sat 25-Aug-12 18:54:36

I can see what you mean Bonnie but I think to start thinking of long term fostering just from the finance angle is not a good idea. As I'm sure you know there is a big difference between short term fostering (even though it can go on for 2 years+ especially if there are court proceedings, which there usually are) and long term or permanent fostering.

Tbh I never liked the idea of placing a child or children on a permanent basis with couples who had not had their own children or fostered on a short term basis. I think with short term fostering you do get an idea of whether you can care for someone else's child/ren and how your family react to the arrangement. If a fc thinks it isn't right for them, it is easy for them to withdraw from fostering, or maybe even do repsite care ( e.g.one or two weekends a month to give other fcs a break, or right from home, as some LAs have both schemes running) With permanent fostering it seems to me to be a big risk, because the introductory period has to be based obviously on the child/ren moving in with the foster carers, and it's "in for a penny in for a pound."

Very few people applied to long term foster I'm afraid, but it was quite common for a couple in a second marriage where one or both of them had children from 1st marriages/partnerships, and wanted a child "together" and often seemed to have a rosy picture of this child who would "belong" to both of them. We often suggested that such couples tried respite fostering first (just dipping a toe in the water) and then maybe short term and if all went well moving on to long term. There were no guarantees of course (are there ever in fostering!) but we found this worked well. We did place children with people who had been approved for permanent fostering of course, but it wasn't that much of a worry because so few people came forward.

The most successful route to permanency was when a child/ren were fostered on a short term basis and all went well and the foster carers wanted to keep the children on a permanent basis. We did have a few of these situations but not as many as we would have liked!

I know people are annoyed that the LAs are not paying enough for the sterling service that foster carers provide, but I think the blame lies with the coalition who are slashing the budgets of all public services and at the same time wanting improved services.

bonnieslilsister Sat 25-Aug-12 19:54:32

Yes, I agree NN but I just thought if people are being put off fostering only because of the unreliability of the income that might be something they have not thought of. I know people are funny about fc's fostering for the money but who on earth can afford to do it if it is not guaranteed? It really limits people who can apply who would be lovely, motherly (and fatherly) and caring to all these little people.

Mrbojangles1 Sun 26-Aug-12 11:23:46

I totaly agree NN i foster but dont foster for the income i dont need to we dont rely on the fostering money as i was a sham before and manged on just oh wage

But sadly i do see the diffrence in standards of care between some of the other foster carers who relay on the money and some who dont i myself have stopped going to our fostering support groups because the only subject that is ever on the agenda is money

And my vie is it really wouldnt matter if i was getting paid £800 a week if the childs sw wont get bak to me or they take 3 years before they even bring the childs case to court

I really dont belive this is about money many IFA struggle to retain and recurit foster carers and they pay quite well

Their are just some jobs well paid or not it will be hard to get pepople

bonnieslilsister Sun 26-Aug-12 19:09:52

There will always be individuals MrB who see fostering as an easy way to make money but hopefully they are in a minority

sadly i do see the diffrence in standards of care between some of the other foster carers who relay on the money and some who dont Huge generalisation!!! Also very smug!

I really love fostering and I believe my standards of care are as good as any who foster and dont need the money. I would do anything for the children in my care but the truth of the matter is without getting the allowance I would not be able to foster.

childatheart Sun 02-Sep-12 20:10:29

The original question was "What is the reason for holding back? Why are we not recruiting enough foster carers or retaining the foster carers we have?"

It still seems that we are stuck in the mindset that "money" is a dirty word in relation to foster carers and that you should not be paid money in relation to it. Why ? children's social workers (some very bad) do, as do the vast majority of "professionals" within the whole set up.

It is the standard of care for the child and putting their interests first that matters and relating back to the original question at the top, it won't change or get better until we move away from old habits and beliefs and treat the care of children with the importance and professionalism it thoroughly deserves.

gallivantsaregood Tue 04-Sep-12 10:28:34

childatheart : Hear Hear!! You got it in one

ripeoldage Wed 10-Oct-12 12:00:18

i became a fc a few years ago, i love it . it was never about the money .. im a single parent and i work .. had constant battles with this one social worker lack of information etc .. they have now left as sw team an moved into foster team so they have now became my link worker .. i had asked for respite once a month as the child i have is hard work only to be told that i can have respite once every 4 months ...like many carers on here i dont get a wage, wish i did for the 172 week i have put in ... i should be able to take a break when i ask ... as for this i thought i was helping the children my only opition is to give up working with the la .. go private ..

tryingtofoster Thu 11-Oct-12 12:16:08

could it also be the 2 year+ approval process, with your life scrutinsed under a microscope but with virtually no communication from the SW, and no idea of or if any progress has been made with your application,

This is how it has gone for us:

all paperwork from our side done almost two years ago.

all interviews and attendance on intro courses done 18mts+ ago

medicals ect done 1 year ago

references done 1 year ago and referees finally interviewed 6 mts plus ago

just SW paperwork to be completed and submitted for approval and then to panel

all through this we were told yes we were great candidates and she would try to get everything done as quickly as possible and she had two "kids" in mind for us over a year ago, but that the last carers she had processed had taken over two years to go through the process but promised that she would do better this time!

SW has sat on this paperwork for over 6 mts and done nothing,
the original snails pace of progress that we were able to prompt out of the SW with calls and emails has now ground to a halt,

she refuses to do paperwork and trys to get her colleuges to do it for her
(she quite proudly told us in one of our first of many interviews that she hated paperwork and particularly the new forms and would not use them at all but got some one else to copy her stuff from the old forms that she would grudgingly use onto the new ones)

Obviously this has approach has failed but she will not hand off our application to anyone else to complete,
all we get are just occasional very flimsy excuses as to why nothing has been done.

and yes in my area they are so desperate for carers that they regularly advertise for them in the press, but then just dont process the applications confused

We are now at the point of giving up and telling SW department to stuff it

If this is how incompetant SW are at this stage i shudder to think what they will be like when we are actually carers and may need their help or advise.

Fosterangel Thu 11-Oct-12 15:24:16

I must admit that it took us over a year from start to finish to go through the fostering process.

The most telling thing to us is how our friends and family view fostering. Most say that the children are lovely but they do not know how we put up with the social workers!

None would ever consider fostering (and some were actually thinking about it whilst we were qualifying!).

Fishwife1949 Fri 12-Oct-12 19:56:43

Well this is my last placement and i am hoping to adopt as i want to help children but dont want the stupidity of the sw any more

I cant be arrsed being told how to raise a child by some 23 year old who lives with there mum and only seen the child twice

The rule apply when they want u to do somthing but dont when its there turn

They ask to little of the birth parents and to much from us

I once was asked by a sw how i was i replied i was a bit tired

That triggered a 2 hour meeting between my link worker , the sw i sopke to and the line manger


Incomptance of that level would not be tolrated in any other relhm and meetings about meeting are a luxury only sw have because the rest of the working world is busy

childatheart Sat 13-Oct-12 21:10:23

Totally concur Fishwife1949

You should not be allowed to become a SW unless you have life skills and have demonstrated also your parenting skills.

Too many young somethings with a degree who really don't have a clue about children, families or parenting but yet are the "experts".

Afewquestions Wed 17-Oct-12 03:08:00

I am a qualified nursery nurse and children's nurse but gave up work after having a baby. I applied with DH to foster children with special needs/ sibling groups... we have 2 spare rooms and a big garden but were turned down as couldnt say for definite whether we might have more children in the future (hadn't decided at that point). Social worker was so rude, asked over the phone what method of contraception I was using as they didnt want to waste their time if I was going to get pregnant soon! When I said I felt that was an inappropriate question she said they would not take my application further.

Fosterangel Wed 17-Oct-12 10:09:10

I am really annoyed for you at reading your post Afewquestions! How dare they ask about your contraception. I would have given that enquiry short change and a furious glare. I know that the process is intrusive (it has to be as it is child protection) but that it a step too far imho.

Have you tried other agencies or fostering organisations? We are with the Local Authority (LA). You can apply to foster through Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA's) or through charities (Barnardos). Try some more to see if it was just one very rude SW. It will only cost you the phone call enquiry and I hope put your mind at rest.

I am sure NanaNina will enter the discussion as she is the font of knowledge to us foster carers.

NanaNina Wed 17-Oct-12 15:31:33

O.M.G. - I am getting more and more shocked at some of these posts, and angry and frustrated on your behalf Afewquestions and others who are being treated appallingly by social workers. In fact I think some posts raise my blood pressure!!

What happened to you AFQ is totally horrendous and you must must make a formal complaint. An offer like yours (which should be perceived as gold dust) is turned down on the phone - UNBELIEVABLE. Ask the LA for a copy of their complaints procedure and follow it. The first stage is usually to complain to the sw's team manager, and if matters aren't resolved , there is usually an independent assessor and if still not resolved, you can have a meeting with membersof the social services committee (might be called cabinets now).

The other way which is quicker is to complain to your local councillor or ask for the name of the chair of the SS Committee and make written complaint to him/her althought your local councillor should pass it on. Then the councillor will pass it to the Director or Chief Exec and it will get passed down the line to the relevant tm mgr and believe me they have to reply very promptly as the Director will want to get back to the councillor asap.

You must complain, not only for yourselves but for others who may have the misfortune to get this incompetent social worker. Applicants should never be turned down on the phone, unless it is someone who is clearly unable to foster (I once had an 86 year old woman in a one bedroomed flat who aplied to foster as her son thought it would be a god idea!)

Keep us posted.

Thank you for your kind words Fosterangel - I just wish I could get my hands on some of these social workers who can behave so unprofessionally.

purpleloosestrife Thu 18-Oct-12 23:02:56

nana I'm sorry I have only scanned this post and not read all in detail - so sorry if any duplication. ... and sorry as this is long. ( a lot to get off my chest!)

I am a new foster carer. I have got the most lovely social workers - who (I truly believe ) should be nominated for some sort of medal/pay rise/statue in their honour..... as they are DEDICATED beyond belief.

Fostering itself is amazing- as for all it is horrific in moments (screaming ,frightened 6mo baby, teething -and unused to physical contact that doesn't hurt - let me tell you how little sleep we got in the beginning!) but it is also very rewarding (when the same baby "allows" you to cuddle him for the first time....)

it is not the social workers that will stop me fostering - they have been awesome. What is a problem, is that I have a DD of my own and the relentless "contact" is something I wasn't prepared for. I cannot go anywhere, or do anything. My life is ruled.

I want to take my family ( FS incl, obviously) on a day trip - I can't. There isn't a day free.

I hate the fact that my daughter now has to miss out on family days out as we have to hang around in case the mother doesn't turn up to contact ( as Social workers are sooo stretched ....there would be no-one to look after FS if we didn't.)

We will probably not foster again.

NanaNina Thu 18-Oct-12 23:32:06

Another example of how appallingly foster carers are being treated. This whole thing about contact has changed so much over the years. Back in the 80's birthparents almost always had contact at the home of the foster carer, and needless to say some carers really didn't like this, as the bp would bring piles of sweets, or criticise the fc or just them being there was an intrusion, or the bps wouldn't turn up at all. However others were very good at it, and ended up often befriending the young mother (as a lot of birthmothers are little more than children themselves)

Then things began to change about 10 years ago (or possibly longer) where all contact took place at contact centres, and children were picked up by a contact worker, driven to the centre and the contact was supervised by the contact worker. Not a great idea for the children, as they were often driven miles (sometimes on a daily basis) to have contact with the bps. The younger the child the greater frequency contact has to be, so that the baby/child does not lose any recall of the birthparents.

However I gather that now fcs are being expected to do all this contact because of lack of funding for contact workers because this govt is slashing the budgets of all public services, but it looks like many LAs are just wanting fcs to take over the work of the contact supervisors. I have heard that some LAs won't approve carers unless they agree to do the contact too.

They just don't deserve carers to be honest. I am just hearing so many horror stories of the appalling ways in which foster carers are being treated

Fosterangel Fri 19-Oct-12 11:01:27

Purpleloosestrife - I was out shopping with my mum this week and we bumped into a lovely lady that I did the Skills to Foster with almost 3 years ago now. She and husband went on to foster newborns/babies and we went on to do teens.

We have kept in touch (and will continue to do so). I liked the way she cared for her lo's with so much love and care and total commitment. She gave up fostering a few weeks ago for exactly the same reason. Her own bs was suffering with the daily contact that fell to her to do. She had a lovely SSW but whenever she asked for anything, like respite for a wedding out of area, or help with transport when bs was in hospital one time, it was refused.

There are many things that are really not right and are driving good carers away. I cannot believe that Social Services cannot see this!

NanaNina Fri 19-Oct-12 12:31:30

Well I think they can see it. The real villian of the piece is the govt because they are slashing through budgets of all public services with a samuri sword. Then of course the LA has to make decisions about how they are going to make the savings needed to comply with the govt, and we're talking big bucks here as I'm sure you know. At the same time Cameron is wanting improved public services, for less money. Impossible. Wherever the cuts are made by LAs there is an outcry eg day centres for people with LDs closed, luncheon clubs for the elderly closed, etc etc.

I do however agree with you that it is extremely short sighted to cut the contact supervisors on the basis that foster carers can do their job too for nothing really, as carers are not paid any extra for doing all the contact, apart from mileage allowance. This is inevitably going to mean fcs will be leaving, and the LA will have to pay massive amounts of their depleted budgets to IFAs. It also has a feel of passing on the cuts that will affect foster carers as they are not that important and won't make a fuss. That is conjecture of course.

The LA where I worked in SSD for many years (a shire county) is cutting all jobs other than social workers and team managers, so all the other management tiers above that are going, and the line management structure will be sw, tm mgr, director. Job done! And there will be big savings as middle and senior managers will be on relatively high salaries. How it will work in practice, no-one knows but at least they are not cutting contact supervisors.

scarlet5tyger Fri 19-Oct-12 14:52:35

Nananina - we're expected to transport without mileage allowance! I haven't once been paid for transporting.

On the other hand, one (very small) improvement the government have recently made is to reduce contact for babies from daily to no more than 3 times per week. This is supposed to help with implementing routines which was impossible with daily contact. The new rule isn't always adhered to (my current LO has 4 days per week) but its slowly being used more as departments realise it saves them money and contact time!

Fishwife1949 Fri 19-Oct-12 15:50:01

Sorry nanna but i dont agree about the goverment bit it nought to do with them

In our LA we have excellect conatct service they pick the fc up and drop them off but even if they didnt it would still effect our family time as sw are to scared to tell parents who continually fail to show for contact that its off until some true comitment is shown

even with parents who are good and do show we have BEEN TOLD WE ARE TO BE NO MORE THAN 30 minutes away just in case which means all you can do is nip to tesco or go home

There is no amount of goverment money that can fix the fact that some parents wont show for contact hence (us) foster carers having to be on standby and are own familes missing out on days out ect.

In my view this is sqaurely laid and the feet of judges and sw who in my view allow parents to take the piss for to long


For me thats the real issue its very jarring to have to turndown trips out to facilitate a conatct you know wont happen then once you haul the gc up to the conatct you are then faced with a deverstaed fotser child as well as missing out on a family trip this is not how anyone should have to spend there weekends

Nanna i am usually with yu but on this i just think the courts and sw need to be a lot toughter and that way the fc are not left dissapointed and the foster carers time is not wasted waiting for a parent that never comes

NanaNina Fri 19-Oct-12 22:05:50

Scarlet They are not paying you mileage.......!!! I thought I'd heard everything but still the horror stories come piling in. Do any of you badly treated carers belong to a group of foster carers for your LA. My experience of foster carers in the LA where I worked, was that they were a very influential group. All new carers were invited and their activities were both formal an informal. Coffee mornings (where fcs could moan about the sws!) christmas party for the kids, summer picnics etc., but they also met formally and discussed between themselves what was going well and what wasn't. They also got in touch with foster carers within the same LA but in a different geographical area, and the whole of the County Council fcs also met as a very large group every quarter. By banding together in this way, they were able to see if there were inconsistencies between different areas about how carers were treated (and there always was of course). If the local group wanted a sw or tm mgr at one of their meetings then we would attend and be made aware of any problems that were arising.

The fcs in the entire CC group elected a chair, minute taker, rep from each area in the CC etc and the director of SSs would be asked to attend on occasions (which he did) and this meant that the director would be made aware of any problems and we would be called to account. Proper thing too.

IF there is no such group, how about starting one in your local area and maybe get things moving - "united we stand - divided we fall"

scarlet5tyger Fri 19-Oct-12 22:20:51

We've just started a group to try and tackle some of the issues we're facing and thanks to some much more vocal FCs than me have made some, small, headway. It's hard at the moment when we know lots of people in our LA have lost their jobs, and know that money really is tight, but we also know tha now is probably the best time to fight...

Lots of carers have voted to refuse to transport to contact unless we are paid mileage but I'm so soft that I'd hate to think how upsetting it would be for my LO and his birth mother if this happened.

NanaNina Fri 19-Oct-12 22:24:14

Fishwife you are quite right about no amount of govt money is going to be able to deal with this issue of difficulties over contact in a LA like yours that still uses contact supervisors.

I know exactly what you mean about sws not wanting to stop contact if the bp doesn't attend etc. I think the important things you mention in your post is the Courts and the Judge, and this IS a problem.

You may or may not know that sws are not really able to stop contact with parents who don't turn up etc though they do I hope keep a note of it as evidence in court of the disinterests of the bps. The reason they have to tread carefully because of the law which states (Children Act 89) that the duty of the social worker is to work in partnership with birthparents and to promote contact between parents and child. Whoever drafted the legislation didn't realise that most bps don't want to work in partnership with the LA!!

IF a sw stops contact or refuses to pay the travelling costs for instance to a bm to see her child, the lawyer representing the birthparents will "hang her/him out to dry" and do their best to discredit the sw. Lawyers for bps often don't have a lot to go on for their clients, so anything they can get hold of is squeezed "till the pips drop out" IFYSWIM. The trouble is the Children Act doesn't have anything to say about working with foster carers in partnership in the best interests of the child. So it does look like the sws are scared of the bps and this may be true in some cases, but they are also scared of being harangued in court by the lawyer for the bps and know that this will compromise the evidence that they can give in their request for a Care Order or Placement Order etc.

However I can absolutely agree with you about the wasted time and the effects on your own family life. Scarlet mentions that the govt have reduced the contact times for a baby from daily to x 3 per week, but I haven't heard anything about this. Can you give more info Scarlet. If so this is a step in the right direction.

However the rationale about daily contact with a baby is because of course the bps must remain as familiar figures in the baby's life, in case the baby is returned to them. Bit like being innocent until proved guilty.

scarlet5tyger Mon 22-Oct-12 15:52:17

The reduction in contact was proposed in a consultation paper earlier this year. There is a transcript about it here and my own LA have recently started offering just 3 sessions per week contact for babies. The courts aren't happy though so who knows how long it will last.

It's made my latest placement much easier to get into a routine though.

NanaNina Mon 22-Oct-12 19:37:42

Hi Scarlet glad to hear that carers in your LA are getting together in a group, and the more who join in the better. It doesn't mean that you only need to discuss what's going wrong but it an be used for anything that is relevant really. I am in absolute agreement that foster carers should be paid at the very least a mileage allowances, especially with the rising cost of fuel.

Everyone is SSD who are "essential car users" (more or less everyone other than admin staff and anyone who is office based) are paid a mileage allowance and also a lump sum for the wear and tear of the car. Yet they are expecting you to do it for nothing - NOT ON! It's bad enough having to disrupt your lives by all this contact, and carers are leaving LA foster care because of this, which is unsurprising.

Scarlet you must "grow a second skin!" Your fuel is the same price as the social workers and your time is just as important.

Thank you very much for the interesting "conversation" with Martin Narey and a journalist. I think Narey is demonstrating how out of touch he was with the day to day running of children's services on a national basis. As the chief Exec of Barnardoes, he would have been shielded from some of the issues he raises, which any senior manager in SSD would have at the front of their mind. Nonethless he is now learning - think he needs to get the name of the legislation right - it is the Children Act 1989 not Children's Act - I know this sounds nit picky but I would expect someone at his level to get it right.

Catherine Macaskill's research is interesting and she is a competent professional, but I do wonder quite how exact her figures can be about whether contact is positive, as I would have thought there were too many variables for such exact figures.

I think one of the problems that I have seen again and again about contact is social workers start jumping to thinking of frequency, without asking the first question - "What is contact meant to achieve" - I know it is difficult to answer that because when a child comes into care, it will not be known whether the LA can safely return the child until comprehensive assessments have been undertaken and if the case does go to court, the of course the Judge makes the final decision.

I think in an ideal world the "child's sense of time" should be taken into consideration regarding contact (meaning that the younger the child) the more frequent contact he/she will need, to ensures that the parents remain familiar, whereas an older child will remember their parents if they are only seen on an infrequent basis.

However I think it's crunch time. Parliament makes the legislation, SSDs have to follow it and courts apply it. It is encouraging that the govt are starting to ask questions about this issue, but in the meantime social workers will feel duty bound to follow the legislation in the Children Act - they can't do otherwise. I think MartinNarey's view is going to be influential but a great deal of it seems to be anecdotal. Why don't the govt ask the social workers and foster carers what this daily contact (in some cases) means for the child and the carers. They know more than Martin Narey.

Re the sibling group issue - well Hurray, Narey has realised that it is a very difficult thing to place sibling groups, something most social workers have known for a very long time. It isn't any good talking about recruiting families specifically for sibling groups because no prospective carer will know how their family is going to be affected by the placement of a sibling group and how each child's needs are going to be met in all respects.

Yes I agree that more consideration needs to be given to splitting sibling groups. Sadly I think there are many inexperienced social workers who have little idea of how to do this. Usualy it is done on the basis of age - say 2 little ones together and 2 older ones together. There is a need to understand the relationships between the sibs and consider their particular behavioural issues which will be relevant when trying to recruit sibling groups. When I was working on an independent basis, I was often asked by the social worker or tm mgr with case responsibility, how to split the sibs. My response that the sw needed to understand the relationships between the sibs, the behaviours etc were met with "oh we haven't got time for that" - probably true, but they also lacked the expertise.

Sorry I must stop...................

Uggshugsandbugs Wed 14-Nov-12 15:03:03

My current situation is that I'm a single unemployed mother of three children living in accommodation in witch has three bed rooms based in slough i have extensive experience working with in many different areas of the community national and international community regeneration developing strategic traing and development for children and young adults in need my kids are a boy8 a girl7 and boy tod of 2 I currently occupy just two of the three bed rooms as I have never ever used my room I sleep in the open plan living room as it has a bed seat every thing is tidy and put away by 6.30 am for the use of the living room I really want to foster I no I'm suited to challenging and changing environments and most of all I love children I need to no if the la will class my unused bed room as a spare due to the fact I have never even put a bed n their and if they don't will I have a chance to put my point and will to foster to a pannal help tomes running out these private school fees won't pay them selves so I need to no were I stand I wish they would just see how good a career I actually am the amount of time love effort I put into my children's development and children in general has to be recognised I truly believe I can do this I have to help and all the negative still hasn't differed my will to do so at 31 I'm a stable consistent foundation for any child and having raised my own independently I'm even more determined to help others please some one get back to me got to go now the school run begins

DecAndAnt Wed 14-Nov-12 20:58:57

Uggs I doubt they would consider you as 4 people living in a 3 bed house, doesn't add up. Also you put that private school fees don't pay themselves. The income from fostering certainly won't pay for private school fees.
I would concentrate on getting a job outside the home or what about childminding?

tryingtofoster Wed 28-Nov-12 02:03:36

Well to answer the OP question again, i put the blame firmly on the SW.
i posted on the 11th oct about how long it has taken so far and it is now the 28th of nov and we still have not heard a thing from the useless excuse for a SW that is supposed to be doing our approval process.
The SW said we were excellent candidates and with 3 spare rooms a big garden and a stay at home mum we were pretty close to ideal in our situation and circumstance.
we were led to believe we would be through the process and have a placement by the summer so we did not book or take any holidays this year because we were told we would be fostering by then.
A job offer was also turned down because we were told we would have a placement "very soon" so we are still living on one salary instead of two,
all because of the lies and deciet of the useless lazy incompetant SW.
Over two years to get approved in an area that is so short of FC that they regularly advertise for more FC and then ignore the applications, unreal, and no we do not vote ukip if you were wondering.
All levity aside i am absolutly discusted by the way we have been treated and i have grave concerns for the poor children who are the victims of this pitiful excuse for a SW.
I despair i really do

lechatnoir Sun 09-Dec-12 21:12:35

9 months into our application to foster (initial assessment, CRB, references, skills to foster all completed) I was made redundant from my PT job & registered as a childminder. Despite telling my LA that I would only be CMing the same PT hours as my previous job they stopped our application dead & told me to 'come back in a year or so but don't be surprised if we say no as CMing & fostering aren't compatible'! Phone down.confused

I get that having FC alongside mindees would be tricky but they were happy with me working 3 days a week (we were applying for respite care not full time) so I don't really see how this should differ but they weren't interested hmm I'm gutted but we can't afford me to be a SAHM/ ft foster carer.

Fosterangel Mon 10-Dec-12 17:10:10

Lechatnoir - I took this from Devon County Council's webiste on Fostering:

"Devon Foster Care Service’s experience is that complex childminding arrangements do not fit well with fostering, particularly where there are many children involved or children minded over long periods of time. Also, risks to childminded children need to be considered during the assessment to ensure that Foster children who may be a risk to others are properly matched. This may, for example, determine the age group for which a Carer is approved to Foster."

I expect Devon;s stance is pretty general and I am really surprised - are LA's saying that Foster children are a risk to childminded children? Piffle! It is more likely to be the other way around as fostered children are very vulnerable and in need of love and nurture from carers who are child focused.

In a child-centred, safe and caring environment all children would flourish so really it is the LA's loss. Another good potential foster home bites the dust! What a shame.

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