Letters, Community Care, 2, 9 September 2010: Use of prostitutes among direct payments recipients; decision making by foster carers
Use of prostitutes is not justifiable
While I would agree that many people do struggle to accept that those who are disabled may wish to have sexual relationships, I do not accept that direct payments should be used to pay for sex workers.
You argue that we as social workers must be sure that no one is being exploited. In what possible way could this be guaranteed? During my time employed in a sexual health centre, many working girls would comment that they were told to tell clients that their lives were happy and that they loved their job and faced the threat of physical violence if not.
As a social worker, I have worked with young girls who have been enticed into prostitution after suffering years of abuse at the hands of their families.
How could a social worker working with adults possibly reconcile assisting a service user pay for a prostitute when our very job is to protect vulnerable people from all walks of life?
Direct payments being used to pay for sex workers is a very dangerous road to travel and could well pit social workers working with adults against those working with vulnerable children and young people who have been enticed into prostitution.
Foster carers should not always decide
While the British Association for Adoption and Fostering would agree that local authorities should try to ensure that where possible parental responsibility on day to day decisions is delegated to the foster carers (“Give foster carers more responsibility” ), it is important that this decision-making takes place in the context of what is right for the child and their birth family.
Existing legislation and guidance makes it clear that local authorities can delegate parental responsibility to foster carers to make decisions about a child such as going on a school trip or staying overnight with a friend.
These decisions about delegating parental responsibility are most appropriately made at the planning meeting for the foster placement agreement held at the beginning of a fostering placement. This is because they need to take account of the individual child’s situation and the views of the birth parents.
The extent to which delegation of decision making to foster carers takes place will depend on the nature of the placement. For example where the child is accommodated, without any legal order, only the birth parent holds parental responsibility and so any delegation of decision making to the foster carer would need to be with their agreement. In longer term placements which are planned to be the child’s permanent home it is more likely that a greater degree of delegation would take place.
We would also note that the views of birth parents need to be considered so while daily living tasks such as having a hair cut would usually be delegated to foster carers there may be situations where, for example due to the religious or cultural views of the birth family, cutting the child’s hair may have particular significance and would require the birth parent’s agreement to be sought.
Adoption and foster care development consultant
British Association for Adoption & Fostering