Faint praise for social workers from foster carers

Lack of support from children’s commissioners is foster carers’ key concern

Looked-after children’s social workers must receive improved training in fostering after a survey revealed a quarter of carers rate support from practitioners as poor.

That was the message from the Fostering Network in a report today based on a poll of 442 foster carers in May, which comes ahead of the launch next week of a campaign by the charity, Together For Change, to boost support for carers.

The charity found that two-thirds of carers rated the availability of children’s social workers as “most important” to them, but 55% rated the support they received as poor or OK.

The network said this revealed the need for improved training for social workers, both at degree and post-qualifying level.

Need to see foster carers as equals

Helen Clarke, a development worker at Fostering Network and the report’s author, said: “There’s more work that we need to do for children’s social workers to see foster carers as equals, from the point that social workers start training.

“We’d like to see time put into the syllabus about fostering and for students to spend time with foster carers during their training.”

However, three-quarters of foster carers rated the support they received from their own supervising social worker as excellent (46%) or good (29%), with just 9% describing it as poor. Just over 70% met with their supervising practitioner every month or six weeks.

Training ‘excellent’

Overall, almost three-quarters of carers said they were very or quite satisfied with the support they received from fostering services, while almost two-thirds thought the training they received was good (25%) or excellent (39%).

However, just 30% thought the provision of short breaks from fostering was good or excellent, with 23% rating it as poor.

The Fostering Network said breaks can help avoid placement breakdown but provision was often lacking due to the national shortage of foster carers.

Results from the same survey, published in August, found more than half of carers had looked after a child in the past three years for whom they were not given all the necessary information to care for them safely.

 Getting the Support they Need

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