Our recent “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Series, which began with us engaging a foster carer agency in a Twitter conversation over their concerning tweets (they were relying heavily on financial incentives to attract carers, with virtually no mention of the need to be interested in children and absolutely no mention of what’s required to become a foster carer), has experienced some, at times, unpredictable twists and turns and the last 48 hours have been no different.

After questioning the agency about their recruiting tac tics, and after the agency stood by them on the grounds that money is the principal thing that actually brings the foster carers in, the agency seem to have done an about-turn and they are now editing their tweets.

Drastically diminished are the mentions of ££££ and tax-free earnings in their tweets, which have now been replaced with tweets focusing on asking for carers to come forward in various counties for the chance to start a full-time career caring for children . In short, the tweets are exactly the same – all the agency have done is remove the amount of money they pay out. Which strongly implies that their conviction on this point has taken something of a U-turn.

This was what the agency’s tweets used to look like:

”All good people of #[COUNTY] we need #foster carers- £400 #jobs PW tax free, all training given. Free advice PLS RT!!”

This is what the agency’s tweets now look like:

#Herts Pro #foster carers needed in #Herts. Give up work and become a pro #fostercarer earning a pro allowance. RT and;

Desperately seeking new #foster carers in #Herts and surrounding areas. Become a prof #foster carer and start a new career.

Apparently, fostering is a career and not a vocation. This also begs another interesting question relating to private family law – when parents divorce and one parent chooses to stay at home, why is that stigmatised and viewed as the lazy non-fee earning option whilst caring for children full-time in the public sector is validated and encouraged? I think, if we examine this double standard, we would come to the conclusion that it is all about money.

But back to the foster care agency and their tweets. The agency have also started to make their tweets more child-focused – and this we are not critical about. Tweets like:

Would you like to help a child? #foster carers in #Beds,# Herts & #Bucks needed. Plse RThttp://owl.li/agGJj and;

#Bucks kids need people who are thinking about becoming #foster carers to take the plunge 

But let us not be naive. The agency is working within a system that uses basic financial incentives to achieve outcomes (despite the poor track record for this type of incentive) and the agency can’t meet its targets (the demand for foster carers) within the time they want, so the quick and easy option is best. But we wonder how many placements work out first time round using these sorts of clumsy techniques and as we are already aware that a large proportion do not, we must ask, why do these agencies not change the way they work to ensure better outcomes.

And as a final thought, after advocating the agency’s work and assuming a level of knowledge about the agency, the individual tweeting on behalf of the agency never responded to our last tweet:

@FindFosterCarer Just out of interest – are you an employee for the agency and would you mind revealing your name and position?

Social media is all about transparency and honesty. If you’re peddling something, you better be prepared to put it all on the table.

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