It is generally better to be pro-active rather than reactive in life. The government continues to confirm why this is the case by maintaining a stance which is so reactive: even whilst august bodies are pronouncing on what should, or shouldn’t be implemented in relation to foster care, the ground is already shifting – and has the government noticed? It seems not.
For a considerable part of 2017, an argument raged back and forth around whether foster carers should be deemed professionals. In so many ways, this was something of a cul-de-sac. It had gained momentum mostly because foster carers had become disillusioned. In many ways they were right to feel unappreciated. Did this arise because they were not considered to be professionals; or, more likely, because the pay and conditions were causing stress at a time of austerity.
A label has been used which has become a convenient peg upon which to hang a list of grievances. “The issue of ‘professionalism’ has, in the current context, become a distraction. A closer examination reveals that many foster carers have; often rightly, not felt they have been given the support they need. So it is by considering this aspect of foster care more closely, that the true nature of what is causing such pressure in the system is revealed. In simple terms, foster carers have been needing support because the job really has become significantly different in recent years. This is because children needing homes are arriving in placement with deep seated emotional and behavioural problems. Unsurprisingly, foster carers struggle to cope: placements break down severely affecting the confidence of even the most experienced carers. And of course, this further damages the well-being of the children: a prime example of a vicious circle if ever there was one.
What is puzzling is that this situation should be making government reframe the issue. Instead of debating whether existing foster carers should be considered professionals, the question should be asked what kind of people are we going to need to look after many damaged young people? Answer: trained and professional people. Moreover, if we then examine what is meant by ‘looking after’, we can see that when only 12% of care leavers currently enter higher education by the age of 23, we have a real problem.
It has long been recognised that adults returning from conflict zones – or indeed surviving accidents – can suffer deeply from post traumatic stress disorder. They are helped to recover by specialists and professionals. We need to accept that many children and young people can be as traumatised yet they have, until recently, simply been put into situations where the requisite skills and experience do not exist. And this is not the fault of our foster carers. It is the fault of those who seem unable to frame a problem properly. MP’s have recently called for the government to create a national college for fostering. This has followed the first report from the inquiry into foster care conducted by the House of Commons education select committee. What is this call, if not some kind of recognition that much more needs to be done in terms of training? And yet, the committee has stopped short of calling for foster care to become a recognised profession. This sits at odds with the view of the Fostering Network – the leading fostering charity – that carers should become professionals. And one presumes that they should know what they are talking about. They submitted this view last year to the national fostering stocktake – which is also part of the government’s efforts to investigate the state of the nation’s fostering provision. Of course, were the government to accept this premise, the implications for fostering would be profound – and costly -indeed.
IFA’s increasingly seeking to recruit for therapeutic foster care
We do a disservice to many desperate children if we allow the persistence of an argument about how carers are labelled. It’s quite a simple: to look after the type of young people that are increasingly needing to be fostered, it is obvious we need trained and professional foster carers. And a lot of them. Agencies are now offering the opportunity for people to train to become certified as therapeutic foster carers. It is now possible to get an MA in Therapeutic Fostering. The government will find it hard to prevaricate as to whether an individual holding this level of qualification is not to be deemed a ‘professional’. A further problem can easily be seen coming – a two tier system of care as some foster carers will have a higher level of training. This can only mean that fostering provision will not be consistent for the increasing amount of vulnerable children needing to rely on it.
Was it necessary to conduct a national stocktake to establish some very obvious facts? If MP’s have determined there should be a national college of fostering, it should be obvious to want to set the bar high and expect that those emerging will form a professional cadre of foster carers.
Airline pilots are rightly considered professionals. We do not baulk at the costs of their training and selection because our lives depend on it. And if there is a problem, the results are going to be highly visible. But the lives and future prospects of large numbers of young people depend similarly on the right kind of training and selection process being operated. Just because the costs of failing to implement such an approach are not immediately apparent is no excuse for its absence.
If, after all this introspection and investigation, the government leaves us with a kind of ‘halfway house’, it will have shown its true colours.
The training of therapeutic carers at Rainbow Fostering Services
We are providing therapeutic foster care training. This enables carers to meet the challenge of looking after children with a range of complex needs. Our foster carers have the opportunity to become true professionals: therapeutic carers sit at the heart of the team which plays a key role in helping children build brighter, better futures.
If you have any further questions about therapeutic care training online, therapeutic foster care uk, training for therapeutic foster care – please give us a call today. The number is 020 8427 3355 and we look after arrange a home visit to meet with you and discuss this type of care in more detail so you can be sure that you are making the right fostering decision. And for therapeutic care training, we especially welcome applications from professionals experienced in working with children: a background in education, social work, the police or youth work is often ideal.
General foster care – meet the need: foster a youngster this year
Rainbow are now also urgently looking for people interested in offering homes for teenagers, sibling groups or for parent and child placements.
Therapeutic foster care training in 2018
For therapeutic care training, applications from people experienced in working with children are most welcome: this is regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or cultural background. For more information, you may prefer to write to us: the address is Rainbow Fostering Services Ltd, 10 Churchill Court, 58 Station Road, North Harrow, London HA2 7SA
And featured in today’s Rainbow news page section:
Call by MP’s for foster care college
8th January, 2018
The government is under pressure from MP’s to create a national college for fostering. Its purpose will be to address the problems of morale (more) http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK
And the good news at the end of this New Year’s Rainbow…we have many birthdays to celebrate this month – Happy Birthday!