Allegations against foster carers
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Foster care can be a truly rewarding career with lots of benefits. It’s also a huge commitment and one that is not without problems. Because of the nature of fostering, procedure for safeguarding children is, naturally, a priority. This can put foster carers at risk of facing allegations at some time during their fostering career.
When allegations against foster carers arise, legally, an investigation must be launched to ensure the safety of the child in question. Although this is a necessary process, it can put the accused foster carer under considerable emotional strain.
While many allegations may prove unfounded, or are not upheld, the impact of the investigation may leave foster carers unable to carry on caring for children. The continuation of the foster carer’s career can depend highly on the level of support and help they receive from their fostering service throughout this process.
Carole’s storyRead more
“After many years of fostering, having an allegation made about a member of my own family was the most awful experience that could have happened, but I had always regarded it as a possibility because of the very nature of care that we undertake.
As foster carers we all help many troubled people on their way through life. I had always been very aware and considered all issues for both the children in my care and for my own family, whilst following the safe care policies of social services thoroughly.
During my early years in fostering I was able to help another carer through a very similar experience that we were unknowingly going to go through 10 years later. For us, it all came out of the blue on a normal busy Friday night and without any details or explanations for a long period of time. We were not prepared enough for what we were about to face. You always think it won’t happen to you. The feeling of loneliness and abandonment, amongst other emotions, came over us and the lack of information was unbearable.
It’s likely that many carers that follow will have to face an allegation and this is the unpleasant side of fostering. Fortunately, FosterTalk was there to help us through a very confusing and worrying time.”
If you need help dealing with an allegation, or for more information on becoming a member of FISS, please contact FosterTalk on 01527 836 910.
Allegations against foster carers are made for a number of reasons. Family members and birth children, as well as the foster carer, can be at risk of accusations of ill treatment or neglect.
Foster care is a 24/7 commitment that takes place in the foster carer’s home. It requires giving a great deal of time and attention to young people who may have a range of behavioural issues or complex needs. In this close and often delicate environment, allegations against foster carers can be made at any time and for any number of reasons.
The reasoning behind allegations can vary. Sometimes birth parents make allegations as they believe this may cause the child to be returned home. Sometimes children in foster care will make allegations because they also believe that this will enable them to go home. Other times, it is because they are unhappy with their placement and want to move, or it could be for another reason entirely. The motives behind allegations are often varied and it is only in a minority of cases that they are found to be true.
Types of allegationsRead more
The main types of allegations being brought against foster carers and their families include:
- Physical abuse
- Poor standards of care
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
National Minimum Standards and Best Practice Guidance seek to ensure that foster carers are provided with independent support throughout the process of the investigation and in dealing with the aftermath. Foster Talk works with fostering services to provide independent support to foster carers through our Foster Carers Independent Support Service (FISS).
Support for foster carersRead more
At FosterTalk we believe that providing the best possible support during these difficult times can make the process clearer and more manageable for everyone involved. FISS therefore provides all the necessary help and support for foster carers who find themselves in this situation, enabling them to feel more in control.
To talk to someone about an allegation, or to access face to face support, please call Foster Talk on 01527 836 910.
Research into allegationsRead more
In the summer of 2015 FosterTalk commissioned a research study into the impact of allegations against foster carers and their families, which was jointly funded by the Sir Halley Stewart trust and conducted by the Rees Centre at Oxford University. This study looked at the case records of almost 200 foster carers who had had unfounded allegations made against them, and carried out interviews of a sample of those foster carers, their supervising social workers and managers.
This study, published in July 2016, makes a number of recommendations to the Department for Education, fostering services and social workers about the way in which foster carers are supported during investigations into allegations of harm.
To read more about the impact of unfounded allegations on foster carers, click here.
The NSPCC has also commissioned some research into allegations called “Keeping Children Safe: Allegations concerning the abuse or neglect of children in Care” This was carried out by the University of York and published in June 2014. A copy can be here.