Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MY CONTACT CAMPAIGN is starting to work. If you're a foster carer, how are your Contacts going?

A few posts back I talked about a Contact which is really throwing one of my foster children. After carefully logging everything that happens at Contact for over a year, and recording how much disruption the child's family were causing before during and after Contact, I found myself invited to a review. Present were all the usual Social Workers, plus a "high up" from Social Services. In a situation like this, the foster carer is accompanied by their own social worker, in my case a very professional person, and their job is to support the carer and take an overview; help the carer keep perspective and get the balance right between all the different standpoints.

One of the things that happens to us all when we take a view is the danger of the view hardening when someone else puts an alternative. Not only that, I usually find myself arguing more passionately on someone else's behalf than for my own neck.Especially if the person I'm supporting is a child who's had a rough enough time before being taken into care, and is still getting what seems like a raw deal in one or two respects.

I don't know about anyone else, but I can end up frustrated and then a bit cranky. 

Take this bit of the review meeting: one of the child's "significant others" is suspected of colluding with an unknown other person, and committing a crime against myself. Obviously, though it's highly frustrating, I can't give the tiniest details, save to say it's a worry. The police have been working with Social Services to nail the "Perp". (Sorry, I've been watching too much cop TV).

If you're a would-be foster carer, let me tell you straight, something like this is almost  unheard of in fostering, and Blue Sky, social workers, the police, have been fantastic. 

As the discussion about this aspect of the Contact went on, something gradually dawned on me; I was the only person in the room who didn't know the identity of the suspect. Me. I'm the victim and the person working closest with the child at the centre of the case, and I'm being kept out of the loop.

Driving home from the review meeting I found myself having a great time winding myself up. Do you ever do that? Get the whiff of self-righteous indignation in your nostrils and start fuming and plotting all sorts of extravagant activity to right a massive wrong.

Actually, deep down, I knew that, as usual Social Services and the Police were right. A suspect is only a suspect, and as the person is definitely known to Social Services, they need to be involved to help the police get closer to the truth and build a case.

And I did manage to walk away with a reduction in Contact, which was my main hope. By about half actually, which is not bad. Plus it was agreed that the family have to behave during Contact, especially they have to treat the child with affection and respect.

So I suppose, all in all, my campaign is starting to work.

The Secret Foster Carer




7 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great campaign. When I worked in care one particular young person always had the most horrific contact sessions with his mother (when she bothered to turn up). Everything we worked towards at home was undermined, and he always left completely out-of-his-mind with paranoia, then became incredibly violent towards those around him before becoming suicidal. She had no interest in his wellbeing at all. It drove us all to distraction that we had to facilitate these meetings, watch him get mentally destroyed, then we had to absorb the violence and try to help him get his head around everything, as if his daily life wasn't hard enough.

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  2. The Secret Foster CarerTuesday, May 28, 2013

    Thanks for your comment B, you had a hard time. Well done for sticking with it, I'm sure you did a fantastic job. Contact needs to be right for the child, doesn't it? The amount of Contact, and the type of Contact needs a re-examination. The parents often need help and advice on how to behave towards their children.
    I have a feeling that the likeliest way to get Contact reduced, where it's right for the child, would be to tell governemnt they could make savings by reducing Contact.
    SFC

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  3. oh Contact - currently twice per week - oh what joy - hopefully - if judiciary system does its job then should reduce to 6 times a year imminently - BUT birth family, school and foster placement within a three mile radius - chance of "bumping" into parents - well, perhaps my foster carer colleagues would like to comment. HMMMMMMMM

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    1. The Secret Foster CarerThursday, May 30, 2013

      As a foster colleague I can only concur, being on the lookout for accidental meetings is draining. The one time it happened to me I was totally unprepared, didn't know what to say, how to play it, whether to call my Social Worker that instant, what to do? The thing that played in my mind for ages afterwards was wondering whether it was a massive coincidence or whether the family member had planned it. My SW put me right about that, it was coincidence. And actually it all turned out alright, much better than I'd expected, in fact, better than the average formal Contact.
      Rubbles, I hope you get the reduction you feel is right for the placement, good luck, stay in touch.
      SFC
      SFC

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    2. Like your other response there are safety issues, house is "flagged" for police urgent response - not yet resorted to panic alarm, but that may have to come.

      Thought contact was supposed to be a positive for the children - hmmmm - worrying that our experiences are not unique.

      When will the system be allowed to put the needs of the children first - promoting birth family contact may not be right for them - aaargh

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  4. I dont know about almost unheard of as we have injunctions against people to prevent them coming near our placement due to criminal issues - all very stressful

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    1. The Secret Foster CarerThursday, May 30, 2013

      It must be very stressful Anonymous. It's rare though, certainly in my experience, and Blue Sky agree. I hope you are getting good support, and that you appreciate how much your efforts are appreciated, not just by the wider community, but by individual fellow carers such as myself and others reading this, and above all of course, your placement. Keep it up, you must be wonderful.
      SFC

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