Rainbow Fostering is a community: like-minded individuals from all walks of life, backgrounds and diverse cultures. Being a foster carer can be challenging in many ways. One of the most important things for a carer to be is a constant and powerful advocate for the children in their care. This comes from the confidence they get from the support and training we provide. It also comes from a very real sense of belonging. We want to empower all our foster carers so they feel they can contribute to the wider debate around caring for all children. We all have the power to be the force for the change we want to see in the world – so thank you to Olly for his thoughts on this topical issue.
It’s a sign of the times that blame and accountability are rising to the top of a whole series of personal agendas. This is even more inevitable because of the pandemic – something completely unprecedented in all our lifetimes. The measures being taken across a broad range of fronts are debated nightly. Success and failure are apportioned before a watchful and apprehensive public. Coronavirus has impacted every aspect of life: schools have been particularly badly affected. Because the education of our children has been so severely disrupted, those who have a watching brief over their interests are becoming increasingly voluble. The latest to add their voice to the rising clamour is the soon to be departing children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield. It is regrettable, and almost a sine qua non, that it’s when people are leaving a post, they usually choose to be most critical. In her recent speech – already described as excoriating – Anne Longfield has fired more than one broadside at the government.
The main thrust of her argument is that ministers are both out of touch and “institutionally biased’ when it comes to supporting children and families. Whilst having put the government under pressure during her six-year tenure, it’s now that the gloves appear to have come off. Longfield will claim that it is a “national scandal” that a fifth of young people leave compulsory education without any basic qualifications. This she describes as “abysmal” – and “I don’t know what’s more shocking: that these things happen, or that they’re hardly recognised. It should be a national scandal.”
She will tell ministers “It’s impossible to overstate how damaging the last year has been for many children.” And going further still, she will accuse the Whitehall of being too remote – leaving it uninterested in children and young people. She pulls no punches: “I have been shocked to discover how many officials have never met any of the children they are responsible for – I have to force officials administers to the table, to watch them sit through a presentation, maybe ask a question, and then vacantly walk away.”
Longfield has turned her gaze approvingly on the incoming Biden administration saying “it knows that children are the heart of our future economic success. She draws attention to Biden’s proposals for tax credits and other benefits aimed at halving child poverty in the US in a year: “yet in the UK, we’re on track to have the highest levels of child poverty since records began in the 1960s.” The prime minister is firmly in Longfield’s sights: “Two weeks ago the prime minister said educational catchup was the key focus of the entire government – yet we still don’t know if next month he is planning to take the universal credit uplift – worth £20 a week – away from millions of families. In the speech, she also accuses the Treasury of shortchanging children thereby demonstrating “institutional bias” against them. In a pointed challenge to the government, Longfield asks:
“Are you serious about ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’? And will you put those children who were already disadvantaged at the centre of it? This is not just about missing a few chapters in a textbook.” As the children’s commissioner, Longfield should perhaps be congratulated for her withering criticisms. That is, surely, what we expect of a commissioner when they have grave concerns. The problem arises when considering Longfield has been in post for six years. It might be far better for children and families living in poverty if these kinds of harsh comments were made by an incoming, rather than departing commissioner. The rest of us would then have a clear idea of what needed to be urgently addressed. The pandemic has to some extent to be set aside. Clearly, the government has blundered in many areas, but it has spent billions on our behalves grappling with problems from every direction. If, as I am sure Anne Longfield would want, we strive to be a fair society, then we have to be fair in recognising what the government has tried to do. There have been serious mistakes but the vaccine rollout has been a noteworthy and impressive success – the envy of Europe.
When Anne Longfield talks of “abysmal’ failure in education, she will have presumably been aware of the statistic that only 6% of children leaving care go onto higher education. That figure has been stubbornly fixed during her time as commissioner – six years. Was she as vocal and damning about this over such a lengthy period? After all, the reasons underlying a “national scandal” – especially in relation to education – do not happen overnight.
Much of what she says is so damning, some will wonder why she wasn’t moved to resign before departing. This would have focused even more attention on the issues she has identified as being so concerning. Why, as she has been described as doing, has she saved some of her harshest criticisms for a final speech?
Anyway, we will shortly have a new children’s commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza. It would be interesting and valuable to know if she dissents from the views of the outgoing commissioner. Anne Longfield’s parting shots have raised the temperature and in many ways reframed the debate. The new commissioner should engage with the assertions made by Longfield and let us know where she stands. That way we have a better chance of seeing whether the lot of those most vulnerable – all children including foster children – is set to improve.
Please note: these are personal opinions and name and picture changed to protect privacy.
Rainbow has been rated by Ofsted as Outstanding in all areas. This puts us amongst a handful of fostering service providers nationwide. Every foster carer is provided with their own Supervising Social Worker. They also have the support of our dedicated team to count upon 24/7. We are the agency of choice for many of the local authority commissioners because our placements are so well-matched. This is down to the professionalism and experience of our team. Well-matched and researched placements are far less likely to break down. This gives children and young people the best chance of settling and succeeding.
We have a dynamic, creative and innovative Youth Participation Team which includes a qualified teacher. This means we have a wide range of activities for your children and young people throughout the year. During the lockdown, they have come up with a host of imaginative virtual events. These have been hugely popular with or young people: Young person’s quote from Online Safety Course. We are providing exemplary fostering services for every single day authorities in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire.
Foster carers earnings. At Rainbow, we pay well as we recognise the valuable work done by our foster carers. So you can expect to earn between £1,500 – £3,000 More than that, if you choose to take advantage of the considerable training opportunities we provide, you’ll see that a professional career in fostering can be richly rewarding. A therapeutic foster carer, for example, will receive enhanced rates of payment meaning earnings can rise to £30k+ pa. To find out more about this option please visit: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/therapeutic-foster-carer/
Today we recommend a blog looking into therapeutic fostering:
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Rainbow keeping the focus on fostering.