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Overwhelmed too!

(9 Posts)
Cazzmags Sat 03-Sep-11 08:18:12

Hi everyone

I''m new here and in a similar position to Auntie Bubble. We had a 4 yr old placed with us also right at the beginning of the summer holidays. It is our first placement and everything has been going extremely well until now.

Our fc starts school this Thursday and will be attending full time for the first time. Social services are proposing (it was only discussed with me yesterday) that contact will change for him because of school as we expected, however what they are suggesting seems to be completely barmy!! They are suggesting that one week he will attend a 2 hr contact directly from school twice a week and on the following week a 2hr contact one night and a 2hr on a Saturday. We transport him, contact is 1/2hr drive away and he suffers from car sickness. This means on school contact days he will leave my house at 8.40 and not return until 6.30 and that's if we don't get caught up in traffic. We are going to have to ask his school to make sure he has a travel tablet 15 mins before we collect him from school and in fairness to the teacher I wouldn't be surprised if she forgets to do this particularly in light of the fact the arrangements will be changing weekly.

My children are 15,18 and 20 so they sort themselves out...well most of the time! Our overwhelming concern is how on earth our fc will cope. Social services insist we have to do it this way to see if he copes and if not, which will obviously be the case, we will have to provide evidence for them to justify changing contact. It feels like they are setting him (and us) up for a fall for no valid reason. I have asked if they could do a 4hr contact on a Saturday instead or move the contact nearer but they're just not interested and insist we've got to try it this way first.

Fostering is everything I hoped it would be in respect of the child but dealing with the child social workers who are supposed to be acting in the childrens best interests is another matter. I understand the importance of contact and we are happy to do whatever we can for our fc but this seems like complete madness.

Our own supervising social worker is fantastic and I'm hopeful she maybe will be able to have some input and that finally common sense will prevail....here's hoping.

maypole1 Sat 03-Sep-11 20:44:01

To be honest I would inform the school of this idea

When our fc sw suggest contact straight after school which would mean a 5 hour drive then not arriving home on Sunday night around 10 bearing in mind fc is only 5 the school were like no way

One thing you will sadly learn contact is about the parents and not about the best interest of the child

I think this is one of the most frustrating things about fostering

We had situations were we have been compelled to take fc to contact when its know the mum will not be coming so we sit with said fc in the car for an hour with no one showing up

Apparently they need to gather evidence the fact no one showed up

The only thing again is to talk to the school as this has the potential to disrupt child's education ad oh the health visitor might help they usually don't take any prisoners

maypole1 Sat 03-Sep-11 20:48:29

Sorry to sound awful but our social workers only have a say when its to do with us but cannot really inter fear. With fc issues

NanaNina Sun 04-Sep-11 22:06:24

Cazzmags - I can only give the same advice re contact as I did on the other overwhelmed thread to Aeschlyus (or some similar name) I know that sws have to allow contact and that it does seem like it's weighted in the parent's favour, but if they haven't allowed appropriate contact the birth parents' lawyer will make much of this at the final hearing and it could mean that the Care Order (or whatever other Order is being requested) will not be made. Having said all that, I just cannot understand this business of expecting foster carers to do the transport. Things must have changed a lot in the 7 years I have been out of LA work.

When I began social work in the late 1970s contact was almost always in the home of the foster carer (unless the bp was known to be violent) and foster carers didn't really like it, but they usually got on with other things in the house, looking in occasionally to see that all was well. Some of the young mums used to pour out their troubles to the foster carer, and others of course criticised as they always will, as it is their only defence left really.

Then it all changed somewhere in the 80s and contact was always away from the foster home but children were picked up from home or school and transported to contact. The contact supervisor observed the contact and made a report to the sw and returned the child home. This was bad enough as I'm sure most of you know and have observed that children can be very troubled by contact, sometimes becoming rude and oppositional in the foster home, as they are not able to process their confused feelings.

Reading these threads I see that foster carers are now being expected to transport children to contact. Is there any supervisor at these contact sessions to observe the interaction between the child and the birth parents.

It is clearly more difficult when a child starts school, but to expect a child who is 4 or 5 and starting school for the first time, to be able to enjoy contact for 2 hours after school is in my view quite ridiculous. In my experience when children come out of school at that age, they are very tired and often cranky or irritable, and need a quiet time at home to unwind from school in the same way as adults do from work.

These 2 hour contacts after school are way too long in my view - I was involved in a case where the head teacher had agreed for contact to be at the school for 1 hour as staff do not leave school until around 5 - 6 pm and the child finished at 3.30. On many occasions the parents didn't turn up and this was noted by the sw as evidence for the court at a later date, but eventually the head teacher said she was no longer prepared to be part of contact arrangements, as the staff had to cope with a distraught child whose mum or dad had not turned up.

As for expecting you to do transport on Saturdays I think is totally out of order, and you should tell the sws that you are not prepared to have your weekend spoilt by having to do transport.

Again I can only assume this is about finance and the more foster carers agree to do transport, the more they will get away with it. I think you need to get together as a group and make a stance about this transport business. As I said before it is the govt slashing budgets that is the trouble but you shouldn't have to put up with it - it is simply not fair.

RE the difference between the link worker and the child's sw - it is as Maypole says the link worker has no real say about contact or many other issues to do with the foster child, as the social worker with case responsibility is the one that has to go to write the care plan and and make decisions as it is her/him that will have to go to court to be cross examined by the defence lawyers(acting for the bps) and believe me this can go on for 3or 4 hours, and these clever barristers know all the tricks of the trade to trip up social workers in the witness box, especially inexperienced social workers. The fostering social worker has no input into the court procedures.
He/she is there to support you, but there should be close liaison between the child's sw and your link worker, with any of your grievances being fed back to the child's sw via your link worker. Then there should be a 3 way meeting to iron things out. I am saddened at how some of you foster carers are being treated and I can see it getting to the stage when the LA lose more and more carers to the independent fostering agencies, and what will that say about the budgets.

Cazzmags Sun 04-Sep-11 23:01:46

Thank you both for your replies. I've obviously got a lot to learn about the 'system' and how it all works. My husband and I were told during assessment and training that the child always comes first but it would appear they often don't.

Nana - Thank you very much for your comprehensive reply. I fully agree with what you say about transport to and from contact. We are happy to transport our fc including at weekends for the time being as he is so young and suffers terribly from car sickness which we have managed to sort out with travel tablets. The alternative if we don't take him would be a taxi and I know he would struggle with that. I completely agree that foster carers shouldn't be expected to do transportation if it doesn't suit them or their family commitments and in fairness our LA haven't put pressure on us to transport. I am by nature confident and assertive so they would have great difficulty attempting to 'force' me into anything which is probably just as well judging by the experiences of others.

maypole - Thanks for the advice and tip ref the school. Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with our fc's school as it is different to the primary my 3 attended. I will certainly try to speak with the headteacher/class teacher and also the health visitor who I have a good relationship with.

maypole1 Mon 05-Sep-11 08:36:24

Yes sadly pre 1998 the human rights act and sadly liberal thinking that the child is ALWAYS best with the birth family

The courts and stingy biased toward the brith family however broken or chaotic the are

After fc mum only attending 3 contacts in as many years her contact was only shortened not removed

And to nana nina question about contact workers, my 11 might as well be supervising contact for all the good they do basically any one can apply for the job is often bank staff so only people wanting extra money on a weekend

I even heard of once case were the worker knew the parent and did not disclose this information for 6 months until the fc let it slip, some are really good but some are very bad I once ha to refuse a worker because she could not make her self understood to me her accent was very thick and English was very poor and I thought if I cannot understand you and you are relying to me in a manner which clearly shows you don't understand what I am saying how can you observe a contact and how the bloody he'll can a small child be safe with someone who cannot speak English.

I had contact workers who refuse to give me any information about contact dump the child and the front door engine running, run back to their car and before you can even figure out what just happens their gone

Contact workers who have changed the nature of the contact with out consulting any one eg had a mum who was not allowed to leave the contact centre with the child it was court ordered contact workers was allowing mum to have community contact with child.

Cazzmags any child you have that is school age I would make sure you forge a close relationship with the school and find out all you can

Sometimes because tier not in ss world they are they only ones who see sense my sw often try's leaves school out of meetings because usually they vito whatever they have planned because its usually mad and works in ss world but not in the real one
With my fc the school has been my back bone and really had the childs interests at heart

hester Mon 05-Sep-11 08:45:04

Not for the first time, I am shocked and depressed at how the contact system works in practice. It's one of the main reasons why we should speed up adoption, I think.

MissVerinder Mon 05-Sep-11 21:14:52

I hate contact too- not turning up, exacting cruel and unusual games etc on LO. It's awful sad

The only comfort is that it's all recorded and fed back to the SW.

maypole1 Mon 05-Sep-11 23:24:14

And then it all gose to court and a big fat nothing happens

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