As many of my readers are aware, I was a foster parent for four years in the 1980s. It was one of the few good things to come out of my relationship during that time.
When Hubby and I got married and moved to our bigger house in 1996, we applied to the council to be foster carers. My expertise was teenagers, and our preference was long term teens with a view to adopt.
The idiot of a social worker assigned to us insisted we take under twos short term, and that I gave up my job, regardless of the fact that I was the major breadwinner at the time. She was so blinkered, she did not listen to what we were saying, did not appreciate my previous experience, and reduced me to tears which resulted in Hubby getting her coat and showing her the door.
The council at that time were crying out for foster carers for teenagers. But they didn’t want us.
Fast forward to 2008, and we applied to a different council who were advertising the need for foster carers everywhere, from the back of buses to double page spreads in the local papers and flyers delivered by the postman with the community newsletters.
We had a lovely social worker, who took everything on board. We had been a couple since 1989, and married since 1991. We were solvent, and could offer a home to one, if not two teenagers.
Then came the kicker.
Because of the child abuse cases that had come to light in recent years, everyone was so intent at covering their arses, that the kids got sidelined under red tape and the need for references, background checks, and god knows what else. I am not knocking that in the slightest, BUT you can take things too far.
Fostering kids isn’t like the official secrets act. Background checks must be taken of course, but did they really have to go back three generations? Did they really need to know what schools you attended as a child, what subjects you were good or bad at, and the friends you had? Was it necessary to contact ALL of your employers? Did they have to contact previous partners or spouses?
It got to the stage where we were waiting to be asked what the first thing we did was when our mothers birthed us.
The social worker was apologetic. She said it was now an invasive procedure to apply, and even at the end of it, which could take months, we might still not be approved.
We thought about it, long and hard, having a second visit and discussion, even attending one of the potential carers training meetings. We had nothing to hide, but considered it too intrusive and did not want to dig up the ghosts from the past, so we backed away.
We were angry to see a new campaign for fostering plastered everywhere within weeks of doing so.
Now I read this. (source)
Government cutbacks and policy has led to our most vulnerable young people being exposed to these circumstances.
Our ‘leaders’ should be ashamed that good people are being deterred because of government ‘policy’ checks going to extremes, when there are single individuals and couples who could offer a child a home and the support they need as they approach adulthood. It was what I was good at. There are thousands like us, but because of red tape and passing the buck, kids suffer. Those same kids are our future.