Wednesday, June 04, 2014


It's really odd how people like to have a go at certain professions.

Never their own. Oh no. Their own profession, they say, is misunderstood, sometimes. That's if anybody ever notices them. 

But professions ranging from the police to plumbers get it in the neck routinely. It's lazy of us all, but there's something people seem to enjoy about slagging off people who do a different job from them.

So teachers and social workers are fair game too and these are the two main professions affecting us as foster carers. 

I remember standing outside the gates of one school, the children were a few minutes late coming out, and a dad I didn't know turned to me and said "You'd think they could afford to buy a decent watch on their salaries, then they'd know when it's 3.15 and time for them to go home, that's when they're not having their thirteen weeks holiday a year."

I was astonished with his basic assumption that as a fellow parent I would obviously share his obnoxious views. On this occasion I'm proud to say I replied "Actually I've been a teacher myself and it's not like that at all." He was very apologetic. It was as though he didn't really mean it or even believe it, it was just a conversation opener; that teachers are rubbish and fair game.

It's the same with social workers, especially when there's a big tragedy involving a child. Then everyone from the newspapers down agrees: "The social workers missed it, aren't they useless". The commonly held belief is that social workers are either ripping children from happy families to keep themselves in a job, or missing cases of serious neglect and abuse because they aren't any good at spotting the obvious signs.

I blame that "Rogue Traders" programme. It's got us thinking that whenever no-one's looking, everyone lights a fag and pees in the customer's water tank.

As a foster carer you have to be really, really on your guard for prejudices against teachers and social workers. Once you  start to listen to other parents slating the school it's a slippery slope, especially since your foster child depends on having his or her needs calmly and objectively outlined to the school. And without social workers there'd be no fostering, simple as that. In fact, I dread to imagine a Britain without social workers, it would be the land Charles Dickens wrote about with Poor Houses, children up chimneys and miserable orphanages. 

Not all teachers and social workers are perfect. Not all foster carers are perfect either. On the whole I've found Blue Sky highly professional at the tricky task of helping foster carers interact with teachers and local authority social workers when issues come up. You need someone businesslike on your side in fostering, which is why I'm glad I'm with an agency.

So, since this business of defining other people's professions is subject to totally black-and-white soundbite judgement, I'm happy to smile along with the following.

Footballers are overpaid dopes.
Lawyers are overpaid ambulance chasers.
Politicians are out of touch, and since they are not overpaid, they all have their hand in the till.
Plumbers are overpaid chain smokers. And incontinent.
Butchers put their thumb on the scales.
Postmen have houses full of undelivered mail.
The Police will let you off if your dad is a gangster.

And for the record; teachers and social workers are doing a difficult job, and doing it magnificently.

And so are foster carers.


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