FosterWiki Care Review Response

  • FosterWiki
  • Author:FosterWiki
  • Published:25 May 2022
  • Country: United Kingdom

FosterWiki Founder, Sarah Anderson, Care Review Response

Care Review response by Sarah Anderson Founder of FosterWiki
FosterWiki Founder Sarah Anderson

The Care Review, lofty in its ambition, felt a little compliant in its reach for approval and “love” appeasing everyone with grand gestures and promises.

Whilst one can not argue the importance of focusing on early intervention, keeping families together, regional care cooperatives, kinship care, expert child protection practitioners and recognising the care experience as a protected characteristic, and much more, it couldn’t help but sound more like a fantasy wish list than something tangible that could be delivered. Time will tell.

However, this review, like its extended family and fore-bearers, continues the well-trodden path of neglecting the crucial and integral part of the workforce that underpins foster care, the foster carers.

Instead, it displays a breathtaking lack of ambition, aspiration or vision for the foster carer sector, which is currently in crisis.

It makes the bold statement that “making this ‘new deal’ work will require investment and a different mindset about fostering” they are not wrong here, but they are wrong about their vision of that mindset, although in truth they don’t seem to know exactly what it is.

Yet again the investment and focus are on recruitment, the industry lives and operates in an echo chamber, making it nigh on impossible for them to see or hear with any clarity. It feels like it keeps doing the same thing with the same results, oblivious of how destructive it is, as it
refuses to take responsibility for, or acknowledge the real issues that befall the modern foster carer.

The industry, and ensuing reviews, perpetually refuse to acknowledge the insecurity of a workforce that lacks the most basic of rights, who works in a culture of fear and is controlled by an abusive allegations system, exacerbated by inadequate pay endured by much of the sector, many finding it hard to even pays the bill, some even visiting food banks.

They carefully chose foster carers with responses that can be carefully curated to play a part in stakeholders’ agendas, and perpetuate a narrative that no longer serves anyone, least of all the children.

On the day this ‘once in a generation opportunity’ was published the Children’s Minister, Will Quince, stood before an empty parliamentary house, announcing amongst other things the answer to the foster carer crisis. Recruit more carers.

The industry needs to get under the skin of the problem, listen and be genuine, authentic, transparent, and open to listening to foster carer leaders.

What is needed?

  1. Overhaul the narrative of fostering, it is key to recruitment, rethink the ‘all you need is a spare room’ story, which is ineffective, does not reflect our role, attracts no one and does our children a disservice.
  2. Give foster carers basic rights and status to ensure security, stability, retention, placement stability and permanence.
  3. Standardised Education Pathway to raise standards and prevent the most vulnerable and traumatised children in society from being handed off to new carers with zero skills, qualifications, understanding of trauma, therapeutic care or the task ahead, resulting in multiple placement moves and preventing 30% of the hard-won recruits leaving or being deregistered within 2yrs of approval.
  4. Overhaul the current allegations system which is open to abuse and create an independent system that gives carers access to proper representation and defence, an evidence-based system that is just, fair, and professional.
  5. Protection in whistleblowing and complaints, which currently result in retaliatory allegations, preventing fearful carers from advocating properly for the children and young people in their care and leaving them unable to challenge poor practice.
  6. Reimagining or acknowledging what “support” actually looks like, it is not a cup of tea with a peer, nor is it “Mockingbird”, in our actual reality on the front line it is the team around the placement being enabled to fully carry out their roles, accessing and embedding the right services, working in a relational and multidisciplinary way, ultimately putting the child and foster carer at the centre of their work.

We now have to put this sector right, we must have “ambitions” for foster carers, after all, they are actually the ones caring for the children every day, and we must “realise the potential” of this critical sector.

As foster carers we must ourselves challenge and change the culture together and help others to do it, we must make sure the narrative of foster carers as little more than a “spare room” is consigned to the annuls of history once and for all. We have a duty to our children, how can we give children happy secure families if we do not feel happy and secure ourselves?

No foster carer ever leaves fostering or doesn’t join it because of the children, they leave and don’t come forward because of the system. If we don’t act soon there will be no foster carers to deliver foster care and the crisis will deepen and our children will be left out in the cold, traumatised, heartbroken and lost for eternity.

Useful Links

Useful Care Review Links

2022 care review Care review response