or not to foster parent?
One of the staff inside the government department here which is responsible for placing children into foster care has claimed that simply changing the way the department is run will not be enough to prevent sexual abuse cases.
Unfortunately that is undoubtedly true. Equally unfortunately it came with the inevitable demand for more staff.
In the current economic climate that is unlikely. What is much more likely is that very little will change. It needs to change.
Someone I know and trust recently told me of a child who had been in foster care with the same family since her birth. She was now eight, happy and well settled and treated just like any other member of the family. Her foster parents had even made inquiries about adopting her.
Then, quite suddenly, she was removed from them - on less than twenty-four hours notice. She was returned to her mother. The foster parents are not permitted to have any further contact with her. They do not even know where she is or whether she is safe.
They do know the mother is single and that a parole officer is involved.
I wonder who those responsible were thinking about here - the child or the mother? I don't know enough to comment except to say my gut reaction is that such a move was not in the best interests of the child. It must also have required hours of time - for everyone except the foster family and the child. They would be the last to know.
I do know it is not unusual for children to be removed from foster families at very short notice. When I was teaching I had a foster mother come in to see me in tears one morning - to tell me that the child they had been caring for, a boy in my class, had been suddenly removed the day before. He was back again four months later. Another attempt was made to return him to his abusive alcoholic mother the following year. He ran away - back to his foster parents. I left after that and never found out what happened to him but I can remember him standing there in the school library asking me, "Why can't I stay with them?" Why indeed?
Of course natural parents have rights but I am beginning to believe more and more that those rights should not over ride the rights of the child.
It isn't just a matter of more staff. That won't solve the problems. We have spent too long massaging the egos of some social workers and the adults they are supposed to be helping.
The first thing we need to think about is what is best for the child - or do I have that wrong?