Foster carers are professionals. This is drummed into us during our assessment and training - gone are the days when foster carers were just kindly old couples who took in a child or two, now we are professionals, part of a multi-disciplinary team of other professionals who professionally put across their views and are open to the views of others. We treat each other with respect. We attend meetings, are qualified to provide excellent care, to advocate for the children in our care and liaise with other members of the team to ensure that any concerns are handled appropriately in the child's best interests. This is what we're told anyway.
The reality is somewhat different.
We had a meeting this afternoon with the Health Visitor and Jack-Jack's social worker, to talk through some concerning behaviours we'd observed, and do a general update on his progress and the case in general. The meeting was in our living room, and Esmeralda and I were both there, so there were four professionals present. The Health Visitor (used to dealing with parents of birth children) deferred to the Social Worker, but directed all questions to us as Jack-Jack's carers. The Social Worker spent much of the meeting pretending we weren't there and directed all questions to the Health Visitor! It's very hard to talk to someone who is talking over you, talking down to you, isn't listening to half of what you're saying and is actively trying to disprove the rest.
This is the person who is supposed to know Jack-Jack well and make the decision on what will be in his best interests for his future. He hasn't seen her since February. Her only interaction with him today was saying over and over "Are you ok?" whilst he just looked at her slightly bemused.
The meeting was actually quite positive overall as the Health Visitor kept turning the conversation round to how much progress Jack-Jack has made in our care and how pleased she was with how he's doing. She seemed to be getting quite frustrated with some of the bizarre responses from his Social Worker too, but is very much "on side" with us, wanting the best for Jack-Jack and his development, and talking honestly and openly about our concerns.
They were here nearly two hours in total, and Esmeralda and I feel exhausted this evening. Jack-Jack on the other hand got super over-stimulated by all the extra attention and took 2 hours to fall asleep this evening compared to his usual 10 minutes.
We found out that the case isn't as far along as we'd been lead to believe, so it looks like Jack-Jack will be with us several more months at least which is lovely. He's so much fun to be around and his personality is really starting to shine - we've got some exciting times ahead!