Foster carers and children ‘prevented’ from keeping in contact after separation

The Fostering Network has called for the government to publish guidance to ensure social workers enable contact to continue

Photo: Bernard Jaubert/imageBROKER/REX Shuttershock

Foster carers and children formerly in their care are often being prevented from, or not supported in, keeping in contact by fostering agencies and social workers, despite the majority of children in care thinking it is an important thing to do.

A report by The Fostering Network found that 81% of 179 children in foster care felt maintaining relationships was important, yet 55% said their social workers did not support contact “at all”.

More than 1,100 foster carers were also surveyed, and almost a third said their fostering service had not supported contact.

The Fostering Network called on the government to produce guidance to ensure children and young people in care remain in contact with their former foster carers.

It also called for “proper attention” to be paid by inspectors of services to evaluate how relationships between children and foster carers are built and supported.

Vicki Swain, campaigns manager at The Fostering Network, said social work practice should reflect that the “practice of cutting off the relationship between the child and their foster carer is damaging and social practice needs to reflect this as a matter of urgency”.

Swain said: “If the governments of the UK are to create future generations of successful and happy care experienced young people, they have to support them in maintaining the relationships that bring them security, happiness, and the freedom to express themselves and fulfil their potential.”

5 Responses to Foster carers and children ‘prevented’ from keeping in contact after separation

  1. FosterCarer1964 February 3, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    I’ve had experience of (and spoken to Foster Carers who’ve had experience of) not being allowed to have contact with Children. Children who might have stayed with us for large percentages of their lives at a traumatic and vulnerable time. One explanation we’ve all experienced (like a loophole) is when a Social Worker has made… er… mistakes. We’ve found they can actually prevent communication between old-Carer to-new-Carer or Ex-Carer to Ex-Foster-Child.

    We’ve met Foster Carers at Training who’ve said they Foster/ed a child we used to Foster and subsequently discovered the Social Worker hadn’t passed on our Assessment of the child’s needs, behaviours and/or risk to the new Carer. Our Assessments were very full and detailed to allow matched placements… We’ve discovered the new Carer’s were told nothing by the Social Worker and weren’t told about our Assessment Reports. As Short-Term-Assessment Foster Carers we’ve produced these reports for the Courts and for the purpose of matching future placements. We’ve spent up to two years with a child after producing reports within the original time-scale (3 to 12 months usually).
    We’ve needed to insist and push very hard for the child to move on after the report was completed and the courts have made decisions so that there is minimum impact on the child. Our pushing wasn’t always popular and we’ve been ignored every time. Until the last minute, usually after 28 days notice and us booking a holiday. As a result there were no Meaningful introductions or matched placements. Just find a bed and, “don’t tell em pike!”.
    New Carers are sometimes told the child was removed after serious concerns following a fallout between the Social Worker and Foster Carer (regardless of how happy and settled the child was).

    The Social Worker can stop any attempt on the part of the new carer to contact the old one.. I mean who would darken their own Fostering Career by having a relationship with a bad Foster Carer? We’ve also had the same said to us about other Carers who later told us about the poor working practices and behaviour of the Social Worker (something we unfortunately found out for ourselves later. By then you’re in the same loop they were in).

    I know my Wife and I have been very successful at Fostering damaged children but I also know lies have been told about us by “Professionals” to prevent communication and accountability..
    You can make it a requirement for children to have contact with ex-Foster Carers but how can you change the loopholes and accountability dodging that would prevent it?

  2. Calum mcpherson February 4, 2016 at 12:00 am #

    The statement from Fostercarer 1964 is like e reflection on my career as a Fostercarer. Until Fostercarer’s are treated as ‘Professionals ‘ and registered as such, too many will be too frightened to ‘advocate ‘ properly for fear of no earnings. This is my main concern about the whole Fostering process,but until the majority admit it I fear nothing will change allowing more children (and Fostercarer’s) to be damaged.

  3. brian February 5, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    why should foster carers be aloud to remain in contact with the kids after they leave thier care
    foster carers say it is damaging to not keep in contact so by this they should know exactly how the parents feel when their kids are removed from them
    personally if parents cant have contact why should foster parents

  4. Elizabeth February 19, 2016 at 12:02 am #

    I am so pleased that the fostering network has recognised the importance of this issue. We fostered a child for 9 years he was a much loved member of the family and he formed strong attachments and trusted us completely. He did not have contact with his birth family. He displayed very challenging behaviour and required constant supervision. The local authority failed to provide us with any support to deal with his behaviour and as he got older he became very difficult to manage and was aggressive towards us. In the end it was decided he needed to move to a single placement where there were no other children. The move was so traumatic for him, he had to change school’s and move away from his friends and clubs he attended. When he moved his social worker promised him he would be able to visit us on a regular basis and could have telephone contact. When he failed to settle in his new placement we were blamed!! His social worker told us his behaviour was worse after he saw us. The LA stopped contact immediately. We last had contact 9 months ago he was not even allowed to have a goodbye visit. When we tried to complain and say his behaviour was just the same when he lived with us the LA just tried to undermine us and told me if I complainied it would not change anything and it might effect future placements I had. I have since found out that he has broken down a further two placements and has now been moved to a children home where his behaviour Is worse than ever. He is still desperate to see us but is not allowed. His social worker has told us he can contact us after he leaves care. I am so worried about the emotional damage this has all caused him and that no one is listening to him and what will happen to him when he leaves care without anyone to support him. The LA have told me he can’t have an advocate because he has not asked for one. I have asked to speak to the IRO on the case but have been told I am not allowed. How can a IRO be independent if the LA decide who they can or can’t speak to?

  5. Karen February 21, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

    Hi Elizabeth

    We went through a similar situation. Please get in touch we may be able to help. We ended up taking the LA to court (hopefully you won’t) just so our foster child could have contact with us….we won. The fostering net work is campaigning to stop this terrible damaged being done to children. Also here is a link to . Thinking of you. Karen