Foster carers, like all of us, quite naturally like to live in their own comfort zone. But unlike most because of what they do they risk spending quite a lot of time well and truly outside it. This is why all of us need to respect what these unsung heroes do every day on behalf of society. Most of us pay scant regard to abstract notions of care. Our busy pressured lives put paid to this. When we do think about ‘care’ it usually only relates to our nearest and dearest. This pandemic is unprecedented because it has forced us to think deeply about what it is to care for ourselves and others. The world has become uncertain and unpredictable. But for many foster carers, this can often be a daily reality. Especially those who are dealing with emergency and short-term fostering placements. Coronavirus has meant that all of us have had to adjust to facing the daily reality of uncertainty and risk.
No longer can we be comforted, reassured or beguiled by the technology that surrounds us. Up and till now, it has always made us feel in charge: invulnerable. There is a sense we have all become Gods – at least in terms of commanding our personal destiny. Nothing, until now, has impinged on our personal freedoms. We have been able to fly to far-flung corners of the globe whenever we desire. Something our grandparents would have marvelled at. But now we have been served a reminder that we have feet of clay. Nature has usurped us. The shock is the realisation we remain its children – often unruly and uncaring. And we are now paying the price – so we need to foster a new set of attitudes. Our behaviour is hubristic and we have assuredly been caught out. There will, probably, be an inquiry into the origins and causes of coronavirus. If it is shown to be a zoonotic disease, this will raise fundamental questions – certainly the way we treat animals. Cruelty, a lack of respect and reverence for the life forms we share this planet with could be our undoing. We need to rethink our attitudes. No one could say we have not had a wake-up call.
True, we may have a vaccine very soon. But we may not. And if we do discover one, we should not again become arrogant and complacent. We have been spared the kind of lethality of a pandemic like the Black Death which raged between 1346 and 1353 killing an estimated 25 million. ‘Cures’ involved drinking vinegar, applying the body parts of chopped up snakes to boils, consuming ten-year-old treacle and even cutting up a pigeon and rubbing its parts over infected areas. Those with a belief in the Greek humours resorted to ‘Blood-letting’ as a way of reducing the hot blood in the body. Despite our Prime Ministers fondness for the classical world, we can be reassured the daily briefings are unlikely to recommend such practices. It is, some think, looking like such treatment may be coming the way of a certain special advisor. But putting aside the political theatrics surrounding the pandemic, one thing is sure: we have all had to think deeply about what it is to care for ourselves, our loved ones and our fellows.
The pandemic has also made us realise that resources, of whatever type, are finite. The shortages of PPE were on a global scale leaving countries competing for them. Confronting the idea that we – even our governments – might not always be able to get what they want or need is new territory. This should have the effect of making us think differently and ensure the resources we have are used wisely and judiciously. There are disturbing signs that this is increasingly not the case. It has been reported in the press that Dorset Children’s Services have massively overspent: disturbingly, it appears that the cost of caring for just three children has amounted to nearly £2m. The breakdown of the official figures revealed that the charge for their specialist care was £1.98m. This resulted in an average of £661,561 for each child translating to a weekly cost of £12,772. A significant part of such costs is incurred when local authorities are unable to find foster carers in their own areas. Costs are clearly spiralling out of control. And this is in no one’s interest. Certainly not the rising numbers of vulnerable children who might need foster care. Sense must prevail because such a situation reveals the absence of a coherent strategy if the root cause is a shortage of foster carers. This is what has to be addressed. And tackled urgently: whilst it may be expensive, this is the time for a major government-funded campaign to attract more people into fostering. It is not that long since we had a foster carer stocktake. That was then and this is now. A very different world. And it is one where huge numbers have discovered within themselves the capacity to care. This has been shown by the countless acts of generosity and self-sacrifice from people who may never have known they had it in them. The public mood has been altered and these effects are likely to be long-lasting. The government should see this and raise its eyes from the immediate day-to-day pressures – which are obviously unprecedented – and realise there could be a huge foster carer recruitment opportunity in the offing. The pandemic is likely to have sharpened peoples sensibilities around the need to care for others. and this, it can be assumed, should translate into caring for the most vulnerable: children. And, more practically, there will probably be more people attracted by the idea of working from home. This is a window of opportunity to engage with greater numbers of people likely to consider fostering. It should not be passed up.
Fostering careers with Rainbow recruiting through the pandemic.
As a Rainbow foster carer, you can count on us providing all the skills and training to really make a difference in children’s lives. Many of our foster carers decide to access our specialist training. This enables them to gain professional expertise reflecting their commitment to fostering. We have been rated ‘Outstanding’ in all areas by Ofsted recognising the quality of the services we offer. And our intention is simply to continuously improve and enhance the lives of the children and young people our foster carers look after.
Children come into foster care for a number of reasons. This can be the result of abuse, neglect, illness or family breakdown. There are lots of families that foster and the experience of fostering is different for them all. Joining Rainbow is a fantastic pathway to acquiring professional skills and experience. you do not have to have experience of working with children to foster.
In addition to the 3-day ‘Skills to Foster’ course which is obligatory for all applicants, throughout your fostering career you will benefit from a range of specialist therapeutic training courses. These are designed and delivered by experts in their fields and include – but are not limited to – Parent and Child Training, Building Resilience, The Management of Complex Needs and Handling Issues of Attachment and Trauma.
As a large independent foster care agency (IFA) operating in Hampshire, London, Birmingham and Manchester, our local team members will always be there to help you. They are dedicated professionals with many years of experience relating to fostering. Our expert teams of foster care advisors – working safely and remotely – will take calls and answer any questions about foster care. There is plenty of information on our website – as well as the guidance we can email. And we can meet you ‘virtually’ via Skype to get your application underway as soon as you wish.
Please give us a call today on 020 8427 3355 or use our National Line – 0330 311 2845 to discuss starting your foster care career. You can also leave your details with a message and time for one of our advisors to phone you back if you prefer: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/ And for the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus pandemic: how to stay safe, save lives and protect the NHS visit – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus And for an interesting blog, we can recommend – http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/fostering-children-means-fitness-matters/