Foster Carers using Corporate Language

I read an article recently in which a lady described her disappointment when a placement broke down following a seemingly trivial matter. My reading of the piece was from the perspective of a Foster Carer (10 years). The lady spoke of her disappointment when the Foster Carer refereed to her own home as a, “Placement”.

 

Unfortunately those words and abbreviations have become common place,- “Placement”, - “Looked After Child” (or - LAC), - “Sibling”, - “Dual Heritage”, - Birth parents, - Accommodated (or - section 20), - Health Needs Assessment, - Respite, - PEP (or - Personal Education Plan), - IRO (Independent Reviewing Officer), SENCO (special educational needs coordinator), - and the list goes on... They have crept into our Family homes uninvited. These sterile legal terms formed part of the learning curve for a few years after we were approved as Foster carers. After we grasped the correct terminology we began our journey to being fully fledged members of the corporate machine...

 

It's not our fault that these sterile words replaced our family friendly affectionate ones...

This is how we are told to be. How training and our contact with other agencies developed us and led our progression. You can't mould someone for years and not expect them to take the shape of the mould.

The Language of Foster Care is a requirement we needed to get used to. It's there to demonstrate our professionalism and competency. Especially around the table at reviews or meetings when there might be someone from outside the in-crowd trying to get in. We don't want them to feel included do we? Ohh no! We need them to feel isolated, left-out and confused in the same way we were. Don't we? It makes them quiet so they don't intervene with a good idea or valid point... Teachers do it too it's not just Social Services who turn up the office speak to impress each other. The care hierarchy welcomes you when you use its language and cuts you off when you can't.

 

Unfortunately to survive the Reviews and “professionals meetings” etc you adopt this corporate way of speaking. Whenever your Professionalism and commitment could be challenged or you could be sidelined because you don't use the language of inclusion - it turns on. Like my Mom's telephone voice automatically turns on when she answers the phone or she becomes a Geordie whenever she's with another Geordie...

I talk the talk as soon as I get near another walking child-protection dictionary. I suppose it would seem cold to someone who has never Fostered or to someone who had the same aims and values as I once had before Foster Care. Or someone who's knowledge of Foster Care comes mostly from a training manual. It can seem wrong if you're forgetting that these children are ultimately someone else's and not ours – But we take them home. We Care for them and expose our families to the care system for the good of the Fostered child. Nobody else walks-the-walk and talks-the-talk like Foster Carers do. Social Workers, Paediatricians, Therapeutic Workers, Reviewing Officers, Teachers, Advocates, Children's rights and even the lolly-pop-man (school crossing warden) etc etc are all there in support of the child but non-of them take the child home with them. The child goes home with us but the corporate gang support the placement not our home (if you're lucky).

 

I have a Child now who is about to find out that he will be in-care until he leaves home. The end of this month his world will hit the bottom of his life barrel. He's a great kid and we want him to stay... But we're not going to commit to long term foster care and be re-approved at a Panel board just so that his home can still be the placement and here's why...

 

We've been here before and we've learned that support and understanding of Looked After Children works so long as we're prepared to allow them to fail at High-School. We're not... At High-School (Particularly Academies) Fostered Children get lost and disillusioned in the massive anonymous education factory that I remember as being the best days of my life but to the Fostered child becomes the worst and most stressful times of theirs with few boundaries and even less care that they're even in school.. It's then that you are expected to let it happen and keep quiet about it. What right minded person would choose to allow others to cause your child to fail but you get the blame?

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