Foster carers feel pressured into giving up work, report finds

Half of carers who had to give up work to foster felt this was the wrong decision, a Fostering Network report has found

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Foster carers feel pressured to give up their jobs by fostering services, a Fostering Network report has found.

The report, funded by the Department for Education, called on services to consider whether people who work may be ruling themselves out of fostering after it found that 40% of carers interviewed were required or felt under pressure to give up their jobs before becoming carers.

Of carers who were required to give up work to foster, 52% felt this was the wrong decision, citing the lack of a steady income and desire to show a positive working role model to children in their care as reasons why.

Whilst the report found “many foster carers feel that it is not realistic to work and foster”, Lucy Peake, director of development at the Fostering Network said fostering services should not to impose “blanket bans” on employment outside of the home.

Peake said that while combining fostering with another job is not always in a child’s best interests, there is more that employers and fostering services can do.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson said: “There are many excellent and supportive employers as well as fostering services out there, and I want all to now consider how they can go further in supporting employees who foster.”

The report also found that support and training was often inaccessible to working foster carers and recommended that fostering services offer more flexible help.

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9 Responses to Foster carers feel pressured into giving up work, report finds

  1. M Walters December 2, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    I have tried to apply to become a foster carers several times and the hardest thing was to give up my job as become not secure in keeping a stable roof over my head.
    if I have no roof, how can I provide a safety home for a vulnerable young person.
    How will they be able to eat on the money that social services give to the foster carer.

    As I was going through the assessment process and training I found that it would have become impossible to carer for the child/children.

    I had to decline yet again which seem that it was a waste of time going through the process and they pullingout.

  2. Karen December 2, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    As a single foster carer I was encouraged not to work and feel considering the complexity of the children I have this was the right decision. I enrolled in a university course and had to get permission and was given consent to so it part time only. On reflection this was also correct and as this degree involves 100 days placements I struggle to juggle my placement and the needs of the children. Because I don’t work doesn’t mean I can’t instil a work ethos to my young people. I think we need to recognise that young people in our care usually have complex needs and it is our role to support them. However if we got professional status and a salary it would help people to recognise that our work is value based and not something that you do on the side.

  3. Malcolm Phillips December 2, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    My wife and I shared roles. She was the stay at home carer and I went out to work. We felt it impossible to remain foster carers by the level of personal intrusion that was an increasing aspect of being a foster carer. personal questions that had no bearing on the caring role,IE: Are both of your parents still alive? If not what did they die of? That and similar questions made it uncomfortable for us to continue to foster so after 7 years we said goodbye to fostering , which we enjoyed immensely and were very good at, just because somewhere in the depths of some department whose task is to be creative with panel questionaires and who had to find stuff to put in there in order to justify his or her job. That and that the supervisor of that person also having to justify their job also needing to sign off on changes to the questions being asked. Not one of them with the intelligence to ask why on earth these questions ought to be asked and the impact of those questions. I felt under no pressure to give up work at all. All the pressure we felt came from the bureaucracy of the social service dept itself.

    • Radu December 3, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      Hi Malcolm. Have you considered moving to an independent fostering agency?

  4. Vivvy December 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    Sorry Malcolm,

    Those are valid questions. First as parents get older and may become more dependent on their own children. This may have implications for you and your wife as foster carers. First were your parents part of your support network or would you be required to provide care for them at some point? As someone who assess applicant’s to become foster carers. I would certainly have asked how did applicant’s parents die and assess the applicant’s experiences, feelings and resolution of any grief. Valid questions. I am suspecting the reasons for these questions was not explained to you.

    Did you really let these questions put you off fostering?

  5. Lynne Brosnan December 4, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I’m not sure I agree that assessing grief should be there for someone to access. There is no right or wrong way in how a person deals with death or grief.What is the purpose of the question?
    I agree with Malcolm to many intrusive questions are asked and why is it so necessary? I fully understand and appreciate with checks that need to take place.
    Very often it is the system that puts people off fostering not the children/young people.

    • Andy Cook December 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

      Nonsense.. To ask such nosey upsetting and unintelligent questions to ascertain a persons suitability and ability to provide care for vulnerable children while balancing National Minimum Standards, Training and guidance is ridiculous. And who is qualified to use the information gathered? Who trains the trainers and who trained them? I suspect it comes down to an individuals opinion of a person and not a precise method. I doubt there are many very wealthy people who foster so who gets to judge the candidate?

      How about asking the “professionals” responsible for the long-term outcome of a child’s life a few unrelated questions? Why they don’t have children? Why their marriages ended. Why they are single parents. etc etc etc.
      Why was my Ex-Wife asked about my suitability to Foster after I divorced her ten years earlier for being unfaithful to me (and our Son). Why they wanted to ask my new Wife’s abusive ex-partner for his opinion after years of domestic violence… Surely the responsibilities of the team around a child (the team that Foster Carers are often excluded from) is shared equally considering what we all want a successful outcome for the child. We don’t open up our homes for a laugh. We do it to protect and help unwanted and abused children
      These silly unrelated elitist methods of selecting Foster Carers damages the faith we have in our worth and reinforces my belief that this type of status management was created to put potential Foster Carer in their place as early as possible. It serves nobody.
      I find it frustrating that since baby P more of the proverbial has run downhill onto the heads of good people who foster rather than at the door of those responsible for their failures. There is more compulsory and unnecessary intrusions into the lives of our families now than ever before. More unqualified – unskilled and un-accountable “professionals” using opinion and self importance as their guidance.
      Recruitment and retention are problematic areas that are not served by poor working standards and a lack of knowledge and support for Foster Carers by Social Services, Schools and teams such as Therapeutic workers. Foster Carers are often excluded, treated as part of the child’s problems instead of part of the their rehabilitation and support. Retention will always prove difficult when Foster Carers can’t advocate for Fostering.

  6. Sarah December 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    I absolutely felt pressured to give up work particularly as a female there was a real expectation that it was me who should be at home more. We fostered for 2 years and as we both work full time (my husband works shifts) agreed to foster only school age children. We were then pressured to take younger children – a 1 and 2 year old siblings. We finally agreed on the proviso that whilst we could be extremely flexible with work we would still need support (8-10hrs of childcare). This was agreed and the grandparents (of the children) initially provided the additional support but when this fell through we were asked to give up work!! There was no way either of us were going to give up the careers we had worked so hard for and put our mortgage at risk and the lifestyle we were providing for the children in our care (holidays, ballet/horseriding/swimming etc). We were told we could ask any of our friends or family to care for the children but we were NOT allowed to have formal childcare (au pair/nursery/childminder) even if we paid for it…on the basis of neglect!! This was so ironic – we could have various friends and family but not the constency of a highly skilled chidcare worker for 8 hours a week!! Instead the social workers decided it was best if the children were moved (AGAIN) even though they were doing really well with us.We were horrfiied that placement stability was not prioritised over a few hours of childcare and resigned as we did not want to be part of a system that did not value what we had to offer when it was clearly benefitting the children we cared for due to lack of flexibility and subsequently resigned. I feel very strongly that policy needs to encourage social care to realise the benefits of working foster carers – and that is it not neglectful to work, it is about quality of care not 24/7 care that children need and stability above all else. Such as shame as both my husband and I have careers working with vulnerable children and their families and would love to have continued bringing our expertise to the front line and make use of our 2 spare rooms. We would happliy continue if we felt that what we can offer is valued, but there is a lot of change required!

  7. sian December 4, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    hi all. There is a role for working foster carers.However it is not recognised. I worked for 11 years a as a partime social worker and a foster carer and it was a mutally benefical arrangement. However yes petty pressure from fostering and the sly quip in our annual reviews or at panel finally decided the issue and we have now given up. I would really like someone to do research on this subjetc as i do feel it is very achievable. However each child must be matched well. We have a systemic way of working with fostered children and i know from my own LA that fostering no longer have weekly matching meeting it is all done by who every on duty .You cannot run children matches. We have a lot of people of the right age and educational backgrounds who are put off by the form f and the fact fostering is not a steady income.How can you be self emplyed but not able to chose if you take a child? that is done by someone else. It does make me think if we are self employed surely we should be able to offer ourselves to any agency and not be tied to just one?It would help solve the shortage of available beds Fostering is great if done well .