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I've just started fostering and I'm still feeling rather overwhelmed with the whole thing. Our first placement is a 4 year old who has been with us all over the summer. Now we're heading back to school and I have been told by social services that I have to drop fc at school, have 10 minutes to get to a different school nearby to drop my own children off, then after school I have to pick up from different schools with only 10 minutes difference between schools ending. 15 minutes later we have to be at contact. Pick up again from contact after an hour and half to get home for tea, bath and bed. Apart from the fact that my children have after school activities and need ferrying around, the fc is going to be exhausted. I've asked that fc gets dropped off at home after contact just to help me out but have been treated as though I'm asking for the world and told me they couldn't afford it. Is it just me, or are they really asking too much? I understood when I started this that I'd be "used and abused" but have felt completely out of the loop. All arrangements have already been made, it's Friday and school starts on Monday and I've only just been informed I won't get the transport help I was promised when I took on the placement.
Gosh, this sounds so negative and I don't mean to rant but there is a lot more to the story than I can put here. I guess I'm really asking for some support or some ways to cope (or a reality check?!) How do other people manage?
hi auntie bubble
You are not ranting at all and I totally understand.
I was in the exact same situation. In my case it was declared at the placement meeting that my fc should continue to attend his previous school. As it was impossible for me to collect my own children from their school, my fc from his, plus his contact twice a week, I too was promised transport would be supplied. This was during the summer holidays. Last week I received a letter saying transport was withdrawn because of finances. Well as I haven't yet developed the power to be in two places at once, I questioned this. At first I received no luck and was told it was my responsibilty, but I took it further, explaining that they had agreed this at the placement meeting. Thankfully the decision was reversed and come Monday transport will be provided (well I hope so). So my advice to you would be to be polite and firm, and explain what you were promised - have you any paperwork confirming this? I know it is difficult, it is my 1st placement too, but you really should be entitled to some help in this situation.
ps and if it can't be resolved before Monday then take your fc in late to demonstrate the impossibility of the situation.
I'm sorry I have no suggestions of help but just wanted to empathise and let you know you're not alone. The children I take in are all pre-school age but tend to have contact 5 days a week. Fine when you only have one child but not so fine when you have 2 or more. Especially when they're in different locations and 10 minutes apart!
I was helped because parents kicked up a fuss that I had to rush off with their baby immediately contact was over (we usually have a few minutes to handover where I can tell them how baby has been). Contacts were changed surprisingly quickly!
My only advice would be to keep pushing for assistance. It might come to nothing but at least you won't feel like you just let them walk over you without putting up a fight.
You will have to do whatever you accept to do. Some people I know refuse to do contact at all!! and they get away with it. Others do loads and put up with it, most people are somewhere in the middle. It seems reasonable to be late for contact if that is what happens when you do your pick ups and traffic makes it impossible to hurry...........
What age are your bc's?
I had 3 foster boys under the age of 3.4 and it was horrendous. Everything about it was awful! I lasted 9 weeks and the placement broke down because 2 brothers were going to nursery 12 miles away for 3 days a week and their transport to come home (I always took them in the morning) was cancelled and I couldn't bear any longer bringing 3 sleeping children home at 4.30pm to an empty house, all of them waking up crying and screaming and me having to get all three into my house.....taking one in and locking the door then howling inside and then going back to car to get another one etc (they all ran away if door was left open) then my own kids coming home at 5pm hungry!! Nightmare situation and I had to force ss to move the 2 brothers and it was mainly because of that driving home from contact!
Good luck with your fight and let us know how you get on. xxx
I am absolutely appalled at the way you foster carers are being treated - the LA just don't deserve carers if this is how you are going to be treated. I am 7 years out of LA fostering, and I worked for a shire county. Contact was almost always done by a contact supervisor who collected the child/ren and returned them home at the end of it. They also observed contact and made notes about what happened, which would give the sw some idea of the r/ship between the child and the birth parents.
Auntie Bubble - I think you absolutely must not put up with this. It is totally unreasonable for anyone to think that you should be dashing around like a blue arsed fly. If you were promised transport help when you took on the placement, then the LA are not keeping to the arrangement between you. To add insult to injury they leave it until almost the day before school begins to tell you. I think I know what is happening here - Snr managers are refusing funding for this that and the other (because of the cuts made by this damn government) and middle managers instead of arguing the toss with Snr Mgrs are simply telling social workers "oh we can't afford that because of the budget restrictions" - it is not on. If they had the child fostered with an IFA they would be paying about 4 times as much for the placement, so maybe tell them if that's what they want to do, then so be it. I think you will find they change their mind pretty quickly about forking out for transport costs.
I know it will be hard for you to stand firm as you are new to fostering, but you must be assertive about this. I suggest you telephone the child's sw on Monday and insist that they keep to the promise that they made about transport, and if she re-iterates that they can't afford it, ask to speak to her Tm Mgr (she'll be in a meeting of course!) but don't let them fob you off. You say in your post that there is a lot more that you can't put in a post so it sounds like they are really walking all over you. If all your endeavours for some reasonable discussion fall on stoney ground, then you will have to say that sadly you cannot continue with the placement. You will need to put this in writing. When faced with sws who are unwilling to discuss things reasonably it's a good idea to ask in a polite voice "could I have a copy of the complaints procedure please" and this is sometimes enough for them to see sense. Having said all that I do feel for sws who have managers who won't stand up to senior managers because it leaves the sw in a helpless position.
Scarlet5 - agree with what you say - don't let them walk over you.
Bonnie - can't believe the charade that you had to go through and not surprised at you had to insist that the 2 brothers were moved.
I don't really want to get political but these viscous cuts in all public services are at the behest of this coalition govt, and they have no alternative but to make the cuts. This is putting Social Service Depts, Hopsitals, teachers, firefighters, police and and all other public servants having to cut down on staff, when they are already hugely under resourced. I really do worry about what the next 5 years hold, as this is just the tip of the ice berg. But back to foster carers, it looks like there will be very few LA foster carers left if they continue to be treated in this way. Makes me very sad when I think of how well a service used to be run, where foster carers were valued for the immensely difficult job they did in caring for some of the most damaged children and young people in our society. NOT big society!!
Auntie Bubble - feel free to PM me if you think I can be of any further help.
Thanks for all your comments. My placement worker phoned late friday and I said I needed to talk with her. She's really approchable and usually I feel like she's on my side. I'll be (as you say Cornishsue) polite but firm. I refuse to be taken for granted and made to feel guilty when I think I have a lot to offer and bend over backwards to do what I can. Although I am really enjoying taking care of the fc we have, if I don't get help I'm afraid that will be it, at least for this placement.
I really appreciate the constructive comments (Bonnie, I don't know how you coped) and will keep lurking on this site, it's really helpful to pick up tips and NanaNina you've hit the nail on the head.
Um in our la they try and see if another carer who either works that way or is already on a school run will help out but to be honest
I wont even take a placement if the contact or school thing is not sorted
My fc went to school far away I refused to take her unless their was a taxi both ways they worked out how much it would cost for agency care then promptly agreed
Oh, Bubble, talk about stress!
It gets a bit silly after a while with all the details and the pick-ups/drop-offs.
He's only 4! There's no way he'll be able to sustain that level of activity throughout the week, and I'm sure his teachers will tell you that within a couple of weeks.
Hope you manage to get a drop off!
Thanks Miss Verinder. I have eventually got the sw to agree to a taxi to bring fc back home after contact (I'll take there) - not without some serious emotional blackmail from her part. Even my link worker asked me if I could juggle things to pick fc up. (I'm really disappointed about that suggestion as I thought she was on my side!) I have my own children to think of. They've been at school all day too, have homework to do and are tired and even if they just want to chill out in front of the tv before they have tea I don't want to drag them out to the contact centre to pick up fc (they're 5 and 7, not old enough to be left)! Contact ends at 5pm - not a good time to be going out anyway with traffic and trying to get tea for everyone. Plus I've recently learned that mum gets her bus fare reimbursed for contact which really makes my blood boil (for lots of reasons that I won't go into).
Grrrrrr, I'm really angry today.
Don't get me started on that my fc mum gets £25 every con at she attends for "travel expenses"
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