The Foster Carer’s Paradox.
Sometimes I just feel we are stuck in the revolving door of the foster carer’s paradox.
Sometimes I’m told ‘you’re just a foster parent’ then at other times that I’m a professional required to adhere to national minimum standards, statutory legislation, attend meetings, work with a team and engage in continued professional development.
Sometimes I feel invisible when I try to advocate for a child or raise an issue. Sometimes I’m highly visible for doing the same, but in a way that leaves me feeling vulnerable.
Sometimes I’m allowed to talk about money, sometimes I’m not and it’s a dirty word.
I am self-employed but I’m not, I am tied to, and my licence is owned by the people I work for and I can’t work for anyone else. My work is highly controlled and I live in the shadows of disciplinary procedures and can lose my job in a heartbeat with no rights or protections. Even if I want to simply resign I can’t, if I want to leave I’m subject to being deregistered as a foster carer and I can’t work anywhere else without starting from scratch, doing my registration and basic training all over again.
I’m told to speak out, I’ve learned to stay silent.
I have an agreement, which looks like a contract, talks like a contract and acts as a contract. But I’m told it is not a contract, even though a leading judge has said it is.
I’m told I’m just a normal parent but have to adhere to someone else’s strict plan for my child, attend numerous professional’s meetings to tell me what I can and can’t do and I have no parental control whatsoever. If I overstep the mark in ‘parenting’ I can be subject to an allegation.
I am told that I’m ‘just a normal parent’ but I need a signed piece of paper to have my child’s hair cut.
I’m told to speak out and voice concerns when it suits, I’m considered argumentative, ‘too vocal’ and overstepping my role when it doesn’t.
I am told to reflect and learn, when I reflect and learn it is used against me.
I am to give children a safe, secure, stable home life, yet I don’t feel safe, secure and stable myself.
The longer this ambiguity is perpetuated the longer retention, recruitment and outcomes will stay as dire as they are. It is said that we are going to be 20,000 carers short, double the deficit of the last 10 years, but everyone keeps doing the same thing and getting the same results.
Time to see, time to listen, time to hear, time for a change.