One of my fostering friends has a young boy staying with her at the moment, obviously I have to be very discreet talking about specifics.
I can tell you this, and it's the thing I want to tell you.
For good reasons, he doesn't have Contact with anybody.
Guess what? Everything's great. Or, at least, much better than it would be if he'd had to be piled into a car and stuck in front of the people whose problems caused the whole breakdown in the first place.
My friend says that it's like he's having a holiday.
Most people go on holiday to get away from it all, especially work. An unhappy family is a job of work alright.
Suppose you were told you were getting a month off work and going away to stay somewhere and chill.
But that every Tuesday at 4.00pm you were going to have to pitch up and sit in the same room as the useless boss who had a down on you plus the colleagues who were in turn; emotionally damaged, vindictive and bullying. The agenda would be about everything that had gone wrong at work.
Imagine your emotional ups and downs.
But the law (I've looked it up, it's an actual Law that children taken into care have Contact once a week, so they don't grow away from their family) says that from the first week in care they have the dreaded Contact.
I am told that sometimes Contact works well. It's possible it does. Mostly it's traumatic for all concerned, including the poor old foster family.
The ripples go out in every direction; after Contact the child is disruptive at home and at school, the foster family are on edge, the child's family is undoubtedly done a disservice, the social workers job load is doubled, the state pays for it all in every way.
The Law about Contact must have been made with the best of intentions, but made by people who don't foster or work in social services.
By the way, part of the reason for no Contact as far as this child goes is that the mother is being assessed. Her mental health is in question. My fostering friend has never met her, but has been told what she's like. Apparently she has an almost supernatural talent to turn it on. By that I mean appear absolutely charming happy and well. She can ooze perfect motherliness whenever she wants to.
She will tickle a social worker with insightful remarks about children such as "He's been telling his teacher that he gets locked in the cupboard? Oh dearie dear, aren't the little mites full of the loveliest imaginations! If he gets himself told off, and like all the darlings he can be a scamp, well, the fact is he's so embarrased he goes and hides, sometimes under the table, sometimes in the broom cupboard. I suppose if you wanted to blame someone else you'd say you were made to hide..."
The woman seems to be able to behave like the best of us at our very best when she wants to.
Then when it's only her children around she switches on her other side, which is as evil as her good side is delightful.
There's one last mystery about this child's particular story, which actually you'd probably guess, even though it's a mystery. The child knows his mother has hurt all the family, in lots of ways. So what does he think of her?
He is frightened of her. Dislikes her. Maybe hates her even, at times.
And loves her. Craves for her to love him.
He isn't half enjoying his holiday from her though.