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Q&A about fostering with Chief Executive of Barnardo's, Anne Marie Carrie - ANSWERS BACK

(88 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-12 09:15:18

To tie in with Foster Care Fortnight, we're inviting you to send in your questions about fostering to Chief Executive of Barnardo's, Anne Marie Carrie.

Anne Marie Carrie has nearly forty years of experience working with some of the most vulnerable children across adoption and fostering, child protection, education, schools, and services for young people.  She became Chief Executive of Barnardo's in January 2011.  Send your questions to Anne before the end of Tuesday 15 May and we'll be linking to the archived Q&A on 24 May.

There is currently a worrying shortage of foster families across the UK, with at least 8,750 new foster families needing to be found this year.  So during this year's Foster Care Fortnight (14-27 May) Barnardo's is urging more people to consider putting themselves forward as potential foster carers - particularly for children who wait longest for a family, such as siblings or disabled children.

Barnardo's is an authority on children in care and child protection based on over 100 years' of experience of finding families for children. The charity wants to hear from anybody who is interested in finding out more about fostering. They will provide training and support to potential foster carers, and do not exclude anyone from consideration on the grounds of sexual orientation, race, marital status, gender, disability or employment status. To find out more contact Barnardo's on 08000 277 280 or

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Mon 28-May-12 11:18:46

Personally I don't have much experience of fostering itself but I am professionally involved in work with young children.

Many of us on mumsnet are more than "just Mums" - As if there is such a thing! smile

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Mon 28-May-12 11:16:01

Yes, glad we've continued the conversation here with our remarkably similar feedback about the responses offered.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Sun 27-May-12 21:09:17

I am relieved its not just me (although not exactly pleased).

Devora Sun 27-May-12 21:05:20

I've been thinking more about why I feel slightly insulted (only very slightly, I can't say it's been keeping me awake at nights). And I think it's what MrsDV said about not acknowledging our experience. If she had read the thread properly, she'd surely have understood that most of the posters were already deeply invested in fostering and adoption. Some of us have spent years engaged with the system, caring for our adopted or fostered children etc. So we want conversation that's just at a slightly deeper level than if we were passers-by who airily lobbed in a top-of-the-head question and got handed a leaflet in response.

I'm sure someone from Barnardos Comms will read this at some point, so my advice to them is to do a little more work on their digital engagement stakeholder segmentation...

scarlet5tyger Sun 27-May-12 20:24:28

Mrs DeVere - was about to post exactly the same thing! I felt like I was reading an advert for Barnados rather than a discussion on foster care.

Would be great if we could place questions like this to a government minister rather than an agency who (seemed) to be recruiting for new carers in a slightly new way.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Fri 25-May-12 08:48:23

I feel the same Devora.
I didnt feel as if she acknowledge our experience.
We could have gone on the website to see that stuff.

Devora Fri 25-May-12 00:51:46

I was disappointed in the replies. I felt as though I was handed a leaflet rather than engaged in discussion.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Thu 24-May-12 20:49:26

'However, it's very important that relatives are carefully assessed to ensure they will be able to sustain the level of care offered throughout the child's life - this is vital as many children in these situations will have already had to endure a great deal of instability and difficulty in their young lives'.

How patronizing.
We know that already.
Are Barnardos actually aware of the amount of FC placements a child can go through whilst in care?

I am very disapointed in this reply. It appears that Barnardos are not really behind KC.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 24-May-12 19:55:36

I was a little disappointed in her answer to my question, under the "accommodation" section. I felt she could have been more open to the new ideas contained in the questions, considering fostering evidently needs a fresh approach in order to meet children's needs more successfully.

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-May-12 16:22:19

Please click here for answers to the Barnardo's Fostering Q&A.

TheMagicFarawayTree Thu 24-May-12 15:53:11

Hi Jessie - the Q&A's are Here

Jessie02 Thu 24-May-12 11:40:36

I'd be grateful if you would you tell me where I can find or where I will be able to find the answer to my question that I left in the thread for Anne Marie Carrie?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-May-12 09:43:10

This Q&A is now closed. Thanks for your questions. We'll be sending over 20 questions to Anne Marie Carrie later today and will link to her answers from this thread on 24 May.

TheMagicFarawayTree Wed 16-May-12 00:04:31

Sorry, perhaps I did not explain myself very well - the "wait a couple of years" was in relation to waiting for the youngest child to be a little bit older, rather than because it would take a couple of years to get ones head around the challenges of fostering.

NanaNina Tue 15-May-12 19:02:50

MFT (love the name cus have hapy memories of how much my kids loved this book when little) I totally agree that when "backs are against walls" and a child out of the age range for which you are approved, needs placement, sws will ask if you can take the child. This makes something of a mockery of approving carers for a specific age range to fit with the ages of their children.

Sorry but I don't understand what youmean about the "wait a couple of years" is because it takes a long time for carers to be able to understand how draining and time consuming caring is. Of course I agree with that but applicants can't even begin to understand what is involve until they start a training course.

Verity I can't even hazard a guess what this was about. It makes no sense whatsoever does it.

veritythebrave Tue 15-May-12 18:12:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheMagicFarawayTree Tue 15-May-12 18:00:38

Laviniasmum - I hope you don't mind me answering, I know that this is a Q&A thread for Anne Marie Carrie, rather than a general fostering thread.

I think, rather than there needing to be a two year age gap and for fostered yp to be the youngest (which is often the case, but I have known many exceptions to this rule, particularly for task centered/short term foster care) the "wait a couple of years" approach is often because it is difficult for would-be foster carers to appreciate just how time consuming and draining foster care can be.
There is no doubt that the task becomes a little easier when your own children are a little more self-reliant.

I agree though that it is a shame that you were not offered at least an initial meeting as you would have then had an opportunity to talk about your support network. I really hope that you have not been put off making enquiries again.

NanaNina Tue 15-May-12 16:48:06

LAs like there to be a 2 year gap between your own children and fostered children. Fostered children ideally need to be the youngest in the fanily, so that they are not competing with younger birth children.

Also there are usually a great many carers who want 0 - 2 and so you might have to wait for placements. How about childminding?

laviniasmum Tue 15-May-12 15:54:19

i would love to be a foster carer to babies age 0-2 but i have been told by two LAs to wait a couple of years till my children are older sad my children are 12,8,5,2 my youngest starts nursary in sep so home alone it is lol
i know is sounds like i have alot on but i know me and my husband would be able to provide a safe and loving home for a foster child or children.
i was disheartened when we was told we couldnt go futher with our ap i just wish they could of done the home study got to know us better and seen how we are as a family. have you any advice or would you say the same??

laviniasmum smile

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 15-May-12 14:20:48

"There are many foster carers with vacancies"

& There are many children needing foster care.

"Time perhaps to update the fostering system ?"

Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

And makes me angry on the children's behalf that we (collectively as adults) can't get it more right more often for more children angry

Jessie02 Tue 15-May-12 12:58:53

There are many foster carers with vacancies but they foster for independent fostering agencies. Time perhaps for Martin Narey to update the fostering system? Funding for children in care to be ring fenced and a National/Regional register of foster carers, their skills and vacancies to be matched with the children who need to be looked after?

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Tue 15-May-12 11:38:12

Not if you go through the complaints procedure and escalate to stage 2 . Most don't need to go further than that before resolution in favour of the kc

NanaNina Mon 14-May-12 23:32:53

Mrs DeVere - I am aware that SGOs (which is relatively new legislation) Jan 2006 is by far the best route to permanancy especially in kinship assessments. I have carried out several SGOs whilst I was working independently and agree they are only really one step "short" of adoption.

However I think LAs prefer ROs because it involves less work for them, and there are still sws who don't realise what documentation is needed for an SGO. The assessment is comprehensive and the issues to be addressed are laid down by a legislative process. In addition the LA have to carry out an assessment of the applicant's needs in terms of practical issues, (supply of equipment) on going financial support and contact issues. I am at present attempting to help someone who thought she was applying for an SGO (well actually she didn't think she was applying for anything because the LA don't make it clear that only applicants can apply for ROs, SGOs, AOs, but the recommendation was for an SGO (but with none of the right paper work) and the social workers came out of court with a RO and were very happy about it!

However you are right that whether RO or SGO the case is closed and finance is discretionary althought there is a clause in the SGO legislation that states that finance (same amount as fostering allowances) should be made where a child was previously in the care of the LA, for the first 2 years after the making of the Order. However in another clause it states "that no placement should break down because of financial issues."

I am interested in what you say about KC having to take the LA "to appeal" before appropriate support is awarded. It was my understanding that the only course of action was to apply for a judicial review - is this what you mean, because I was left wondering how many KC would be in a postion to pay a lawyer to institute such proceedings, nor how costly that might be.

TheRhubarb Mon 14-May-12 20:21:54

Thank you, I have raised concerns before but nothing was done.

At least they aren't in childrens homes I suppose.

NanaNina Mon 14-May-12 19:49:31

Yes Kristina I fully accept that carers may wish to talk to each other rather than a sw and I think I've already made that point (and Scarlet) I take your point that it is very difficult to get hold of social workers.

I am however a little puzzled about how you claim to know so much about social work training, since you have made it clear in the past you are not a social worker. I would take issue with your statement " that much of social work training and practice is about minimsing risk to the agency rather than being child and family focussed." Are you able to evidence this?

I am fully aware that many social workers are young and inexperienced, and the only opportunity they have of first hand experience before they qualify is whilst they are out on placements. When I trained many years ago, we had 2 practice placements and 1 plct in res care. I don't know how many plcts students have on the 3 year degree course.

Yes there will be some foster carers who have 20 years experience and a newly qualified sw, but it is just as likely that you have a sw with 20 years experience and a newly approved foster care. Also, is it not the case that all professionals and other emplyees have to "learn on the job" - you only have to watch Young Doctors (recent TV programme) after 5 years hard study, they were on their first hospital placements and were on a very steep learning curve, and were dependent on the good will of the nurses, same with nurses, teachers, who of course have to get through their NQT year, lawyers, accountants etc. etc.

Re a foster carer calling EDT but told to call the police, is not I agree very helpful, however some counties are very large and a very small number of EDT workers, who have to prioritise their work eg. a person needs to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act as they are a danger to themselves or others, a 6 month old baby with a fractured skull and the account of the parents does not match the injury - needs immediate response etc etc.

I was a social worker for 6 years on a Teenage Placement Project where some very difficult and challenging young people were in placement, and the carers had my home number. In all those 6 years I never had to go out at all (even though I was prepared to do so) most carers just needed advice or reassurance. A violent teenager is in fact probably committing an offence and therefore it is more appropriately dealt with by the police.

I do realise that social care is in need of many improvements, including more resources (but small chance of that with this coalition and its slashing of all public sector budgets) and I have seen very poor practice when working independently, but this was due to inner city LAs trying to run a service on 30 - 40% vacancy rates, many staff off sick with stress related illness, agency staff coming and going and managers promoted beyong their competence.

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