Tuesday, March 19, 2019


People sometimes ask Foster Carers;

"Is it true that you have  to get the child's parents' permission before they have a haircut?"

It's one of those titbits of quirky misinformation about fostering that are out there. Maybe 'misinformation' is a bit strong, what I'm talking about is that some members of the public think that fostering is beset by red tape, rules and pitfalls. 

As far as haircuts go, yes, sometimes the real parents should be consulted. New clothes are another example; sometimes the parent might appreciate being in the loop. But it isn't a problem for us - we inform our Social Workers and they sort it, then get back to us with the decision on what to do.

Every child is unique, every fractured family that has children removed and taken into care is unique. We all work together to get it right for the individual child

"THE CHILD IS PARAMOUNT". That's the Blue Sky watchword - though I can't imagine any other fostering body is far off that maxim. So if a child wants a one cut over the ears, or a pair of jeans slashed at the knee, there needs to be a sound argument against before it gets vetoed. For example if the child's school bans shaved temples, no problem, that's out. If the child's step-grandmother has a beef about trendy clothes, that's a different thing.

Yes, there are a rules and regs, but our Social Worker helps us with them to keep the placement on track. Most of it is plain common sense. That's how the bulk of fostering works; common sense.

Look, fostering is no doddle, but we Foster Carers have an army of professionals behind us to back-up, give guidance and support. And help us get on with the job.

Social Workers are miracle workers. Ordinary folk like myself who get into fostering find ourselves backed up by one of the most vital, good-hearted, professional bodies of people out there.

The reason this topic is in my mind is that last Saturday one of ours had their ears pierced.

Ouch...in many ways.

One big ouch is that this particular child is always a bit saddened when they are reminded that they are different from children in ordinary families. It's been agreed all round that in our house we try to develop the sense that the child is the same as any other child. We keep the professionals in the background and the professionals are...professional, they get it. So when the child sneaked alongside and asked about having their ears pierced, I knew I'd have to consult, but I played my ace card at such moments and replied "Interesting. I'll have a think and get back to you on that."

It's a response that buys time. I pinged an email to my Blue Sky Social Worker who advised me to email the child's Local Authority Social Worker about it.

Don't know if I've made it clear in past blogs but the fostering system works something like this; Blue Sky Social Workers are primarily focussed on supporting their Foster Carers. Local Authority Social Workers have final responsibility for the child. Of course everyone at Blue Sky cares deeply about the child, and the Local Authority cares about the Carers; but there's a small but important distinction of responsibilities which helps enormously.

So in the case of ear-piercing the final decision had to come from the Local Authority Social Worker, who came back with a yes.

I emailed the news to Blue Sky and we agreed that there was no need to burden the child with the details of all the work that had gone into what ended up a simple yes. I then checked with the Local Authority Social Worker that it would be okay for me to give the child the good news, and if the child understood it to be my decision, all well and good.

One; the child would think I was cool, modern and on-side - and that might buy some extra good spirit.

Two; the child would avoid being reminded they were in care, and feel part of an ordinary family where decisions - unless the law says otherwise - are taken by the parents (or the responsible household adults).

If the child asked me how the decision had been reached I would be honest with them because you try to never tell foster children fibs. But if they don't ask, and want to believe it was foster mum being a good egg, so be it.

And Saturday's piercing went well. I had to attend as an underage-but-old-enough person has to have a guardian on hand. Child came out looking good. I've genned up about salt solutions and the special tape you buy from Boots for when they have to take their studs out for PE.

It was painless all round, and like I said, the studs look good.

FYI I'm not thinking of having my ears done.

When I was young one of my friends had it done by a friend in the park and it was messy. Piercing became one of those things I was put off from for life.

Nothing could ever put me off fostering.


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