Thursday, 15 January 2015


I'd just like to highlight how powerless and overlooked we feel as foster carers sometimes.

Although we live with them 24 hours a day and know them best, we don't have any parental responsibility for our foster children, this is shared between their parents and their social worker. We have what's known as delegated authority, so can make day to day decisions like when they have a haircut (although not a change of style), what they have for dinner, taking them to the doctor or deciding whether they can go on a school trip. We cannot sign consent forms for medical procedures, complete a passport application, change the child's name, take them out of the country without written permission, cancel a contact session with parents (even if the child is unwell - we have been appalled at the reluctance of duty social workers to cancel the contact of vomiting or infectious children) or authorise a change of school.

Peter's school is completely wrong for him and is not meeting his needs. We've known this since before the Summer and have put the relevant wheels in motion, yet we do not have the authority to remove him, nor to look at other schools to find a suitable alternative. The more we get to know him and understand the sources of his anxieties, the more we think that home education would be a good option for him, yet foster children are not allowed to be home educated.

Unfortunately as foster carers, our opinions are often not seen as having the same weight as either parents or professionals, we seem to be in limbo land in the middle. In a meeting with Jack-Jack's social worker, the health visitor was referring questions about his development to the social worker rather than us although the meeting was taking place in our living room with both of us present! We have experienced Peter's school phoning his social worker behind our backs to check up on us, and also assuming that as carers we wouldn't care about him and his achievements in the same way as parents. When he received an award for gymnastics, all the other parents of children in his group were phoned to attend the award assembly; we were not.

We understand that social workers have a full workload and although our foster children are a priority to us, they are one of many to their social worker, and if they are safe and the placement is not at risk of breaking down there are other children and other issues that must jump to the top of the list.

Peter won't be continuing at his school long term, but a decision that would have been made the same day by parents has already taken over 4 months since we first raised concerns, and may not be concluded before the end of the academic year. These frustrating elements of fostering certainly aren't explained during the assessment process!

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