Local authorities and independent fostering agencies are confronting a particular problem with recruiting foster carers for sibling groups and teenagers. This means that the national foster care stocktake will have to address these thorny subjects. It will have had a huge amount of material to sift through and doubtless there will be a lot of duplication. Almost certainly there will be contradictions and controversies: just one example – the widespread disagreement over whether foster carers should be accorded professional status. In time this argument may come to be regarded as a classic example of ‘fiddling whilst Rome burns’. Let’s hope not. For in amongst what will have been a huge number of submissions, there will certainly be gold – but will this be perceived? And, most importantly, will a consensus view emerge. What will be wholly counterproductive, will be for the exercise to have spawned the kind of disagreements that will lead to delay and obfuscation.
The basis a review of the foster care system should start from
Almost a year ago, Ofsted published ‘Fostering in England 2015 to 2016: key findings’. It is key that much of the thinking, future planning and ultimate direction arising from the stocktake will result from what this report highlights. The most compelling finding is that the reported number of applications fell in that period by one third. There were 11,460 applications in 2015 to 2016, compared to 16,920 the previous year. This was reported as a “large drop in applications to be foster carers.” The response to this can and should be Why? As this statistical information is freely available, the stocktake should certainly be framing this question; or hopefully already considered it. It may be that the answers that result are politically inconvenient, but irrespective of this, they need to be addressed head on. If they are not, it is inconceivable that significant progress will be made regarding recruiting foster carers for the key categories of need.
What is important is that a strategic approach is taken to the future recruitment of foster carers. This means that where the demand and shortfalls are greatest – such as sibling groups and teenagers – effective means are established to solve these pressing problems. The answer cannot lie in merely hoping that existing foster carers will be pressured into accepting placements outside of their preferences. If this becomes endemic; and there are signs that it already is, the danger is that more foster carers will simply give up. This will further strain the system of fostering provision we have which is already suffering the impact of increasing numbers of placement breakdowns.
A strategic approach would be to recognise that the distinct category groups within fostering – teenagers, parent and child and sibling groups as examples – demand a specific and tailored approach in terms of recruitment. After all, the experience of providing foster care for each of these groups is going to be very different. Agencies recognise this and are careful to explain the differences involved.
What the foster care stocktake should lend its weight to, is the suggestion for a national recruitment campaign that is structured to allow specificity. Such an approach would allow focused appeals to be made that could generate a fertile response. This would make it possible to overturn prejudices that militate against recruiting foster carers for these categories of care. This would enable foster carers themselves to be more attuned to the importance of the work that they are doing in a very specific sense. Why is this so important? Because the time when it worked to recruit people in a very general manner is long since over. Take the example of health care – which is not a million miles removed – hospitals are full of doctors who are specialists with specialist knowledge. Strenuous efforts should now be made to go out into society and explain the complexities of fostering. Most of the research shows that the public has at the best of times only the vaguest ideas about fostering. The commonly held view is that the people who do it are well meaning, long suffering and always to be relied upon – ‘doing it for the love of it’. Elements of this perception are true, but they are far from the whole story. For recruitment to be effective there has to a much greater understanding in the general public of the many different facets of foster care. Once this takes root, the chances of recruiting the right kind of people for the different categories of foster care are going to be greatly increased.
Public education is the key to foster care recruitment
Building awareness around sibling groups and their circumstances allows messages that could be powerful in recruitment terms. Foster carers who looked after sibling groups would know for example –
- they would be facilitating the relationship with their brothers and sisters, which is what siblings say they value most about their family;
- one study found successful outcomes in the cases of emotionally close siblings who were emotionally close and able to be placed in a foster home together;
- caring for a sibling group can prevent additional trauma to children as they have can maintain some degree of familiarity with their family situation;
- the sibling relationship is likely to be the longest over the term of a lifetime. Preserving this has to be one of the most positive things a person can do.
And there are not the only positive aspects that a foster carer specialising in looking after sibling groups can offer. It can be assumed that a public awareness campaign that extolled such benefits, would have a positive effect on recruitment. It is then important that public exposure to such messages is maintained in the long term.
Rainbow training programme for therapeutic carers
Train to be a therapeutic foster carer. You could also specialise in caring for sibling groups. A therapeutic carer works at the heart of the team – always committed to helping children and young people build brighter, better futures.
If you are interested in finding out about fostering siblings or therapeutic care training online, therapeutic foster care uk, training for therapeutic foster care – then we will be happy to give you plenty of information around which to make a decision. Simply call 020 8427 3355 for an informal chat. If you want to take things further, we can visit you in your home and discuss fostering siblings or therapeutic care giving. We want you to be confident you are making the right fostering decision.
Therapeutic foster care training in 2018
For therapeutic care training – as well as general fostering training – you can apply to foster with us, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or cultural background. Rainbow Fostering are also keen to find people interested in offering homes for all children and young people in need. There is special training available in all categories of fostering. We are always happy to provide basic information if you are just beginning to consider the idea of becoming a carer. This can deal with – just long does it take to become a foster carer? And what is the fostering allowance? Foster care requirements, And what are the different types of foster care available?
Please note: for therapeutic care training, we especially welcome applications from professionals experienced in working with children.
For an information pack you can write to us at Rainbow Fostering Services Ltd, 10 Churchill Court, 58 Station Road, North Harrow, London HA2 7SA
And in the news:
Dutch Minister argues for children to stay with carers until the age of 21
23rd, January 2018
The health minister Hugo de Jonge maintains that foster children should be able to stay with their foster carers until they are 21 years of age (more) http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK
Good news at the end of this Rainbow…congratulations to our youth participation officer who has coached a youngster through to the UK National Indoors Athletic trials – with prospects of going through to the World Championships being held in Birmingham.