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Safer foster care, reducing risk

Safer foster care, reducing risk

Poverty, homelessness and unemployment are some of the main contributing factors to children being placed in foster care.

Fostering News by Foster Care News - United Kingdom

Fostering News by Foster Care News – United Kingdom

More children than ever require foster placements. The UK foster care system is already facing huge challenges due to a lack of foster carers.

It is difficult to recruit and hold on to trained social workers who might improve the experiences of children in foster homes. Fostering has always had it’s critics and sometimes a reputation as being unsafe in recent years.

According to research, a high percentage of children in foster care exhibit emotional and or behavioural problems. To some degree, foster children suffer emotional difficulties from both their experiences before foster care and from the foster care experience itself.

These long standing problems make the job of current and prospective foster carers more difficult than ever.

Not only are they expected to deal with a range of difficult behaviours and developmental disorders exhibited by foster children, but the networks of support that should be in place to assist them are becoming increasingly tested by cases such as the tragic death of baby P.

Probably the most serious concern people have about becoming foster carers is the risk of allegations being made against them by foster children.

If an allegation is made about another person’s behaviour towards a child, a foster carer must inform their Family Placement social worker or the child’s social worker. If allegations are made against a foster carer to a social worker, they have a responsibility to make the foster carer aware. Allegations and complaints are distressing and they should be dealt with fairly, confidentially and impartially.

  • One in six foster carers has a complaint or allegation made against them during their fostering career.
  • Carers who have allegations made against them tend to have been fostering for over five years
  • The same abuse that can occur within birth families can occur in foster families

A foster child might make a false allegation of abuse because they misinterpret an innocent action, or as a way of exercising some control over life, or to try and end a foster placement without losing face.

Risk reduction

  • Recognise the people in the foster home who are potential risks or may be vulnerable to allegations.
  • Know the fostering agency’s policy and procedure for investigating allegations.
  • Always record daily events.
  • Be clear and consistent about the home rules and boundaries for ways of behaving.
  • All foster carers must have a family safe care policy for keeping everyone safe.
  • Foster carers need a good support network.
  • Training is very important.
  • Foster carers need to have adequate insurance cover.
  • Keeping everyone safe means working closely with the fostering agency.

Without the support and recognition of the professional role foster carers have in safeguarding our children, fewer people will consider fostering and those who do, will find it harder to meet the demands of a fostering career.

There is a growing need to find people who have the commitment, qualities and who are prepared to accept the risks involved of looking after other people’s vulnerable children.

A high percentage of foster children do not achieve their potential in education, commit offences, abuse alcohol and drugs and go on to be homeless and unemployed. All problems that tend to escalate in times of economic crisis.

The indicators are that fostering will be put under even more pressure to provide the solution for children’s placement services.

Lets hope more people can be persuaded to make room in their hearts and space in their lives for a place for a child who needs a foster carer. Contact us to apply to foster children