More than half of foster carers feel they are not treated as valuable members of a child’s life, research by The Fostering Network has found.
Published today, The State of the Nation’s Foster Care, found most foster carers do not feel regularly valued by the social care team who share responsibility for the child.
Being excluded from meetings about a child’s future and having their views disregarded were just some of the examples cited in the survey of 1,082 foster carers.
But individual social workers were praised by foster carers. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of carers said the social work support they received had been very good or good. However, there were also concerns raised about high social work caseloads, which can make practitioners unavailable to children.
The research also revealed that more than half (53%) of foster carers said they are not paid for fostering, on top of their allowances.
Vicki Swain, campaigns manager for The Fostering Network, argued the report shows the foster carer role needs to become more professionalised.
“You’ve actually got a highly skilled workforce who have to do therapeutic, emotional, personal care for some of the most damaged children and yet half of them aren’t paid, half of them aren’t even treated as members of the workforce,” she said.
The Fostering Network has called for a new approach, which increases the emphasis on the role of foster carers in social work training. This training to should be mandatory, Swain said, adding there should be a foster care register too to boost foster carers’ status. “We need to have a regulated workforce with minimum qualifications [for] entry,” she said.