After the incident a couple of years ago in which a Foster carer was de-registered for being a member of ukip I posted a few comments on the Fostering Network at the time about whether or not we should hide our political opinion and keep secret our thoughts from Social Services. Whether or not we should vet those who enter our homes... Seems madness to even think it. Surely it can't get as bad as that. Why would we profess to live in a free society if we cannot express our feelings to people who are in charge of recruitment and retention.
Honesty and openness are the best policy aren't they? Are they?
Last Thursday I was asked by a new Foster Carer (new to my Local Authority but not new to Fostering) how pay is worked out and how often it's paid. I asked why and he said he was providing respite for two children at the moment and two weeks later they hadn't received any money for upkeep. I gave him the payments telephone number (because it had changed) and he went away happy.
On Friday I asked if he'd got through to payments. “Yes” was the reply, “but they are only paying us for one child. They don't know about the other child and until someone fills out the paperwork the child doesn't exist.” Amazing! So the child has disappeared. I asked him to speak to the Child's Social Worker and he said he'd already spoken to her but she's new and asks him what to do more than he asks her (we've been down that road before and I don't envy him. When it all goes sour the inexperience turns into the blame game. Foster Carers don't always come out of the blame game smiling).
We got chatting and compared horror stories and discussed why we both think looking after children is the easy bit and agreed that it's other forces that make Fostering unattractive. I asked him how long it took to be approved with our Local Authority and how long he'd Fostered for a Private Agency. The conversation meandered and then he asked, - “Did you get asked about your Political persuasion?” No I replied. “Oh we did. I was asked what do you think about Nigel Farrage and I replied he seems like a nice bloke”. I asked why she would need to ask that question and felt sure it wasn't correct to be asking... He continued and said “She returned the next day and asked the question again but first told me that she believed him to be a racist and a bigot. So he said I don't know the man and don't vote.” Her opinion not procedure would seem to be the deciding factor on whether a Foster carer gets approval. It also begs the question "who puts them in charge and who trains them. What are they trained?
She had the power to refuse his Fostering registration without being accountable. I'm sure what she did is wrong and I wonder how many potential Foster Carers she's refused for "personal reasons"... I wonder what would have happened if he'd said “I quite like him.” I wonder how widespread this reverse Bigotry is, Is it endorsed by managers and is it acceptable? I don't think it is.