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Genuinely positive fostering stories(15 Posts)
So I appreciate that this is perhaps controversial, but I am feeling genuinely disillusioned and depressed thinking about the fostering system in my area at the moment (Scotland).
I was a long term foster carer to a young man, and I am also very senior within a youth social care role- I see young people who have been through the care system pretty much every day. Following a particularly upsetting episode yesterday with foster carers who are basically crap, and yet another failing placement, I just honestly do not understand why fostering is still the preferred option for many children. I am too young to remember the old style children’s homes with lots of children but lots of trained staff, but I can’t help but wonder if we are missing a trick and a return to this model (which doesn’t pretend to be a ‘replacement family), with properly qualified staff who are in it for the right reason, would be better, and we wouldn’t have kids coming through who have had multiple failed fostering homes, and come out pretty much broken??
I should say I am sure there are some very good carers and I have done it myself, but I just genuinely am not convinced the model works.
Residential homes are a last resort as the outcomes for the children are generally poorer. They are sitting ducks for sexual exploitation and drugs. As for staff 'being in it for the right reasons' It's a job for them. Why are they more invested in the children than a foster carer?? They turn up for an interview, get the job, work their shift and then go home. Foster carers have their lives scrutinised, have visits, meetings, homes inspected, go to panel to be judged every 3 years. Yes there are some terrible foster carers but placement breakdown is usually poor support from ss and poor communication.
Do you think the outcomes might be poorer from residential because they have generally ended up there after failed fostering placements and have been further damaged?
Also- you need to do a degree to be a social worker- go on placements, really learn about the needs of children and what has caused them to be in the care system. That isn’t the case with fostering and I say that as someone who has been a foster carer.
Staff in residential care homes aren't social workers. They're care workers. They don't need degrees. And even if they did, a degree doesn't create empathy or nurturing or any of the other qualites of a good carer. Foster carers have ongoing training which is relevant to the needs of a child in care. Residential care homes are known in the area and become targets for criminals who know there are vulnerable children ready to exploit that have no continuity of care. Children need families and a care home provides basic needs of shelter and food but not the nurturing a family provides. And I say this as a foster carer. With a degree. And as someone who grew up near a residential care home and had friends who lived in it.
I am also a foster carer with a degree who works with lots and lots of care leavers. My point is- the current system isn’t working. Those who have been in foster care have generally had multiple moves and I hear very few positive stories about their time in foster care- the over arching message being that the carers never really wanted them. How do we fix this?? I honestly feel a totally new model/ approach is needed. For example almost like like a boarding school with qualified staff who genuinely are there because they want to be and don’t pretend to the kids staying there ‘this is your new family’ but who offer genuinely holistic support to all children who can’t stay at home- not just the most challenging. I am just not convinced that fostering is producing the positive outcomes it should. All the adverts on the radio now are ‘foster and earn x amount’- not about fostering being a vocation in the way social work is presented, so no wonder it is attracting so many in it for the wrong reasons.
That sounds great. Local authority don't have the funding for that though.
I have come across a number of residential care homes and staff in my experience are low paid and many low skilled. There is no 'family feel' at all and some of them have rules which give an institutional feel so less person centred care.
There are no doubt good and bad residential homes and good and not so good foster carers. The SW involved with children can always raise any concerns if FC not providing excellent care.
I would agree that many foster carers are in it for the wrong reasons. I am a foster carer in Scotland with an IFA. Our IFA often asks myself and my partner along to training days to have an open and honest conversation with prospective new carers in an attempt to recruit the "right type" of person - this is really really difficult and as we all know demand far outweighs supply. The system is not perfect but I personally don't like the idea of the old models - any child who grows up in a loving stable family setting would never choose to go and live in a boarding school type environment and I don't think that should be forced upon anyone. I would agree many young people in care would choose that type of setting over foster care simply because their current carers are crap - and I don't blame them, so in that respect you may be onto something. I'd be interested to know more about why you thing its going completely the wrong way and I'd love to tell you about all the chances and opportunities my two young people have had and will have in the future as a way of "balancing both sides" please don't give up!
I worked in a children’s home and left to become a foster carer!
Children’s homes like what you are describing just don’t exist I’m afraid. The one I worked in was Ofsted ‘outstanding’ and the children received a high level of care.
Like everywhere there were good staff and bad staff just like there are good Foster Carers and bad Foster Carers. There was no less upheaval for the children because all the staff change jobs, very few are there to stay and the ones that do don’t tend to be the right ones! You are grouping together a whole load of vulnerable and challenging young people which causes issues. The care workers view what they do as a job and they go home at the end of the day, the young people have no one who genuinely cares about them.
Foster care is hard! You are given support and training but also have to be incredibly self motivated. You must retain a certain degree of professionalism but also provide young people with a stable and loving environment which they deserve. I absolutely love it though and feel confident my foster children have achieved far more and enjoyed far more than they would have growing up in a children’s home.
I agree that there are many Carers who are in this for the wrong reasons. I also know that there is little motivation and support offered to continue with challenging placements.
I think the best case scenario is for a child to be placed with caring, stable foster carers. I don't think a children's home could ever be better than that. However, I think for certain, older children, boarding school might be a good fit during term time. Not a special 'care' boarding school but an already established boarding school with strict rules etc. I think some kids would really flourish in that type of environment.
I don't know what the answer is to attracting and retaining good quality foster carers. I foster and have had the same children for 4 years. It would take a lot for me to end the placement. But I know other foster carers seem to give up on their placements quite easily. A foster carer friend of mine fostered 2 and 4 year olds who went to her as their 5th placement in about 18 months. I saw those children quite regularly until they were then adopted and I never saw any behaviour that was totally out of the norm of any 2 or 4 year old. So why did 4 other carers give up on them? And that kind of thing is quite common - carers decide they can't cope and end the placement. But what's the answer? How do we get carers that can cope? Do we need more support, more respite etc?
I've never used respite, mainly because I think my foster kids would be hurt if I told them I was sending them to live with a different foster carer for a few days. However, if local authorities put on week long residential camps for foster kids, so it would be a holiday for them, I would definitely send mine and be very glad of the break!
I know there's a big push at the minute to make foster carers roles be seen as more 'professional.' But personally I don't want that. I don't want to have to fill in a 'professional development' journal and reams of paperwork - I want to be these children's 'parent' in so far as I can, to provide them with a normal upbringing.
My sister is a foster carer and I personally think she does an amazing job which no residential unit could match. She includes the young child in everything. The child has been with her for nearly 5 years.
kitsandkids my sister is finding she is having to take respite as foster child is clashing with her own birth child who is 2 years older, and birth child is finding it a bit of a struggle and a bit hard.
There is a scheme for sending foster children (and those who might need foster care) to boarding school. I do wonder if it could be a better option than foster care for some children (more than currently use it), though of course there would be a need for foster care in the holidays www.boardingschoolpartnerships.org.uk/how-it-works
Our's just attended this had a brilliant time. cost £35.
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