Why I’m not talking about the Care Review
People have asked me why I’m not talking about the Care Review, here’s the answer.
I could really write one line on this.
Because it will never be about meaningful change or improvement for the foster carer workforce.
Since I first started campaigning 10 years ago foster carers have been my primary focus. I have seen many reviews come and go and there is no evolution when it comes to foster carers. Each review and report sticks to the same tired narrative of foster carers being little more than “a spare room and a big heart”. I look on with a feeling of desperate inevitability as they carefully choose evidence to support this.
“That’s because it is about the children” I hear them say but for me, it is a very simple equation on the fostering front. Foster carers are the workforce that underpins foster care, the people that care for the children 24/7 and see foster care delivered on daily basis, on the front line, what truly works for the children and what doesn’t.
It is a simple equation, without foster carers there is no fostering and if we continue to treat them the way we do then there will be no need for any reviews that include fostering as there will be no foster carers left to deliver it. Josh McAlistair’s Care Review is not proving to be any different. I’ve already had feedback from foster carers who attended the review’s brief consultations with foster carers and it’s not encouraging. There has been nothing about our status, rights, security or protection. The irony is that these things have an acute influence on recruitment which I have a feeling will be high on their agenda.
Our role has been professionalised beyond all recognition in recent years. We are now expected to adhere to hundreds of standards, extensive legislation, safeguarding and risk management, take up training, new qualifications and continuous professional development, we are expected to understand trauma, attachment issues and deliver therapeutically driven care, we attend copious meetings and work closely with a multitude of other professionals.
Yet we are still portrayed as glorified babysitters. No amount of engagement, watching them or political posturing will change this or have any influence. For my mind, it’s a completely pointless exercise when I can dedicate my time to doing something more productive to push forward meaningful change.
My focus is and has always been, on the foster carer. Being a foster carer myself I know how vital that is for the children and young people we care for. A modern workforce that reflects our current role, a legally secure, protected and respected workforce with their own central licensing body, decent pay, pensions and rights will turn around the industries fortunes and provide improved care, higher recruitment, retention and placement stability in loving family homes for our children.
The Care Review will not even be looking at these things, let alone delivering on them. They were not listening then, they are not listening now, we have to take control of our own change.