I’m trying to make sense of the news articles, and social media reaction to those articles, about fostercare over the last two days. I know that there are some foster carers who are treated poorly by their agencies. We’ve collectively allowed that to happen over the years and should all take some responsibility. Where foster carers are treated poorly, we should acknowledge this, not sweep it under the carpet, and work to address it. My members, independent and voluntary sector fostering providers, have Ofsted judgements that are 90% good or outstanding with less than 1% inadequate. So, they’re a long way on with addressing these issues.
But how does it help children in foster care and foster carers, to have foster care hammered in the news again? To have those of us with a commitment to foster care arguing and in-fighting on social media? If we want to look like a sector in chaos, we’re going about it the right way. Of course, I know that bad news sells and good news doesn’t. ‘Everything is terrible!’ gets the headlines. But let’s not pander to that kind of media agenda just to get column inches (or web pixels!).
And, yes, the sector has suffered from successive Westminster governments who thought that adoption was more important. And the focus on Brexit is slowing down our chances of implementing some of the good recommendations from the Narey/Owers review of foster care. But I’m not letting government off the hook, I’m there, pestering, cajoling, persuading, presenting what we know.
As I said above, we shouldn’t hide our problems. But let’s get a balanced, informed picture of foster care out there for the public to try and make sense of. The overwhelming majority of people in the sector are trying to do the right things, most of the time, in very challenging circumstances. Because foster care is also amazing. The hardest thing you might do, but also the most rewarding. If we’re going to attract new foster carers and hang on to the ones we’ve got, we should be shouting that from the rooftops.