Welcome to another week.
You’ll have to forgive us but this week we’ve decided not to offer you a quick question to mull over. Instead, we’d like to share with you what we feel is a growing concern inside the child welfare sector in the form of councils and fostering agencies fighting it out to try to reclaim pieces of a child protection pie they seem to feel entitled to.
Whilst we accept, and support, organisations that want to offer vulnerable children a better alternative to what can sometimes be a deeply traumatising start, the way the child welfare sector works is clearly not putting children at the heart of its decision making. And the looming economic crisis is only making things worse.
We already know that fostering agencies and local authorities try to ‘incentivise’ parents to adopt and foster through pay (a big bug bear of ours and one we write frequently about), but the scramble for funds appears to be causing a frenzy.
Although we’ve had several investigations and inquiries into fostering and adoption in the UK, the latest consultation headed up by Martin Narey – often referred to as the ‘Adoption Tsar’, whatever that is – looks like a thinly veiled attempt by councils to stop independent fostering agencies from ‘stealing their business’. Likewise, fostering agencies lashed out at the increasing use of Special Guardianship Orders last month by suggesting they placed children at risk – no stats currently exist to show whether or not more children suffer abuse at the hands of Special Guardians over foster carers or adopters.
And a bizarre new book intended to promote fostering has surfaced. Extracts of this book have been featured online over the last few days and include experiences of children in foster care but after a harrowing account from one child was published, which we decided to write critically about for the awful way in which the child had been treated, another account followed right after which was so odd we questioned its authenticity over on Twitter. The account reads like an infomercial:
So what’s going on? Well, it looks like the sector is taking advantage of well meaning individuals looking to improve outcomes for children whilst at the same time trying to revive a service which has been badly affected by budget cuts, and family court judgments advising that adoptions and fostering arrangements should always be a method of last resort.
Are we wrong? Have we become so cynical about the system that we believe it is capable of almost anything to preserve itself, rather than reinvent itself, which is always so much harder when everything is against change and doing the right thing?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.