We shall shortly be extending our therapeutic foster care recruitment drive to encompass a special ‘NHS Staff: Skills, Retention and Recruitment’ Event being held in Manchester on May 17th. The foster care sector has been changing significantly in recent years. This has been driven by the increasing numbers of children coming into the care system with complex needs. This has caused a situation where the skills and expertise of even the most experienced foster carers can be strained to the limit. The result: the number of placement breakdowns has been rising inexorably. This is clearly damaging to the children – as well as the foster carers concerned. It can also impact negatively on both the recruitment and retention of foster carers. In response, more and more agencies have been placing a serious focus on providing therapeutic foster care. There is little choice – recent figures indicate that 65% of children coming into care have experienced some type of abuse or neglect. This means many are traumatised and require the specialist support that therapeutic foster care provides.There is a consequence to this: attracting people into foster care has to be approached in a new way.
Messages that have worked in the past will not be nearly as effective. The kind of pragmatic approach that accepts the current day reality of fostering is what is required. And this, although seeming challenging in itself, does present real opportunities. Especially when it comes to reappraising recruitment. A lot of the debate both before, and then following the Fostering Stocktake, became mired in whether foster carers should be regarded as professionals. In the end, the authors determined this was not a development with sufficient merit. This is not the place to continue the debate: feelings ran high – and probably still do – on both sides. What is interesting, is that it will be the laws of the market; as it were, that are likely to dictate any change in the status of foster carers, rather than adherence to a fixed view of it. Put simply: many of the children we now have to find homes for, present with problems that only a cadre of skilled and ‘professional’ carers can deal with. And it is cannot ever be a matter of simply coping. However poor their start in life may have been, all children have the right to be helped to overcome trauma so they can have a worthwhile future. This is one of the central tenets of fostering.
Professional therapeutic foster carers will be in high demand
So we have to recruit the kind of individuals who can make this possible. Where are they? Most likely already working in a professional capacity in one of the caring professions. This must be where we target our efforts. Paradoxically, it may not be that long before we see a whole new class of professional foster carer created by the laws of supply and demand. And this is not just about remuneration – although an experienced therapeutic foster carer can attract a salary of £40,000. There are other dynamics in play: the problems recruiting and retaining; let alone motivating healthcare staff, is attracting more and more publicity. It is also now possible to obtain a Masters Degree in therapeutic foster care – a level of qualification likely to be accorded professional status. And consequently, one that will attract people who might have been considering a career in the health service, into fostering. This means that there will be a pool of people – possessing all the right caring instincts – looking askance at a health service unlikely to fulfil their ambitions. And more likely, militate against them: one need only consider –
Add to this the numbers of private healthcare providers competing for NHS contracts – always an area of controversy – working in a system under such strain starts to look unattractive. This must affect detrimentally the perceptions of people whose primary wish is to care for unwell and vulnerable people. And of all the areas of government, the National Health Service probably appears most in the media spotlight. These issues remain firmly fixed in the public imagination and the public is ill at ease: budget cuts, endless reforms and austerity have pushed the the NHS workforce to breaking point. This should be fertile territory for recruiting people into therapeutic fostering – including those who may have been contemplating a career in the NHS.
It is a comment on the machinery of government that after setting up an enquiry – the Fostering Stocktake – that certain conclusions seem to have been purblind to wider forces in society that could have all manner of repercussions on the nature of foster care provision. We have been living in the mindset of ‘Austerity’ for many years. One of its main effects may have been a growing inability to consider cause and effect in the headlong rush to make savings. These may prove to have been illusory; not just in monetary terms, if professionals at a certain level within the NHS are attracted into the world of therapeutic foster care. ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’ has never been an effective modus operandi when it comes to providing for the weak and vulnerable wherever they may be located in society.
We offer special fostering ‘Rewards’ to therapeutic foster carers
If you are interested in becoming; or already are a therapeutic foster carer, we would love to hear from you. And anyone able to refer a therapeutic foster carer to us will be paid a £500 bonus once the person referred has taken their first placement. We are also keen to talk to existing approved foster carers who might be considering transferring – we have the expertise to make the transfer process simple and trouble free. It’s what you would expect from an agency with two decades of experience. Individuals transferring may also be eligible for a special bonus.
Good news at the end of our rainbow…we had a tremendous response from the Muslim Lifestyle Show that we attended last weekend. A special thank you from our team to all those we spoke to who were interested in foster care as a career. We hope to hear from you all soon.
Rainbow fostering: current news –
Foster care children helped after graduation in U.S.
24th April, 2018
Leaving the security of a foster home can be a daunting prospect for any youngster once they turn 18. Whilst there is provision in place in the UK in the form of ‘Staying Put’, a good many young people still struggle with the move toward independent living. And this can be the situation, not just in this country: in Iowa, more than four hundred teenagers “age out” of the state run foster care (more)
Photo by raw pixel on Upsplash