Feb. 8th, 2010

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The guardian recently did an investigation into the state of Britain's foster care system and unsurprisingly it is an underfunded chaotic mess. I'm sure the people who work with in it absolutely have their hearts in the right place but they are not actually going to make any difference because the whole idea is intrinsically flawed. It all circles round on itself

Children who have been in the care system are far more likely to become teenage parents than their peers. "We struggle a little bit with children in care having children. There is a very negative, repeated cycle – they have ­children, and their children go through the care system again. Being a looked-after child, there is a significant risk of having another child in the care system," Delores, who has worked as a social worker for 14 years, says.

"We are always quite shocked when young people who have been in the care system have children who get referred to us. I have seen it a lot with children who were in care, in secure units, in foster care or residential care. We have to remove their children because they can't parent them, they can't given them ­emotional warmth. They can't do it."

Parents who have been through the care system are twice as likely to lose the right to care for their own children – this is just one of many negative indicators about the dismal life chances for children who are looked after by the state.





So it seems Foster care as it is done now is actually more damaging for families and society. It doesn't break destructive cycles it perpetuates them

I used to think putting more money in the foster care system would fix it and its clear that the foster care system is deeply underfunded:

It is clear from the state of the office carpets that money is tight. The phones are old, the computers are old, there are old grey filing cabinets, pushed together at ugly angles, there are a lot of unhealthy, deadish plants, the walls are covered with stranded spots of Blu-Tack and dried-up sticky tape



Probably training foster carers would make a difference: according to the government website preparation for becoming a foster carer consists of



Once it has been decided you are suitable to become a foster carer, The Criminal Records Bureau will check that you have not committed an offence which would exclude you from fostering. You will also have a health check, to rule out any health problems.

A social worker will then help you fill in an application form and you will be asked to attend a group preparation session with other people who are applying.

Finally your application will be sent to an independent fostering panel, which will recommend whether or not you can become a foster carer. This can take up to six months.


Which seems like less than adequate preparation for supporting and living with traumatised children. But even if foster carers were given excellent training I still don't think that would be the answer. It wouldn't solve or remove all the issues that caused the child to be removed in the first place.Every situation in the report involved poverty, mental health issues, addiction or learning disabilities on the part of the parents. So while there does need to be more money spent on supporting families and keeping children safe, instead of putting it into the foster care system why not spend it on rehab programs, mental health support, training and employing people to help parents with learning difficulties/disabilities to look after their children? Why not train would be foster carers as family support workers. Why not set up community support centers? Why not focus on community regeneration?

There will always be emergencies, there will always be situations where children have to be removed from their parents but putting and infrastructure like this in place would cut down enormously on the children being taken into care. It would also support families who need extra support but are under the radar of social services or families who are to scared to ask for social services support because they fear if they do their children will be taken away,

instead of focusing on overhauling foster care having an infrastructure like this would prevent the double trauma of abuse/neglect and then the removal from the family that children in care have to go through.

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