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Urgent advice for foster carers

During these uncertain times things are changing at a rapid pace and all of us here at the Foster Care Workers Union and the IWGB are working flat out to keep up to date, to provide support and advocate for you, our members. 

With that in mind, we are issuing new advice and guidance on a number of issues, which you will find below. We would encourage all members to read and act on this advice without delay to keep yourself and your fostering household protected.   

Contact 

There is increased pressure on Foster Carer Workers to facilitate contact via telephone and online apps.

Before you agree make sure: 

  • The app or device you are using does not give others your phone number, email or location.  Zoom is a good example, used with an email account set up specifically for this purpose. 
  • You, your SSW and CSW are clear about your role. Foster carers should not be expected to take on the role of supervising contact. If this is something that is normally done by SW or a contact supervisor they should be joining the call.
  • If you are concerned in any way about facilitating video contact you should seek permission from SW and all parties on the call to record the call for record keeping. (This can be done on Zoom – files must be renamed to save them securely)

Safer Caring Plans

All carers should update their safer caring plan to reflect new restrictions and changes including:

  • Changes made to contact.
  • Clear guidance about what to do in the event of children running away or not obeying current social distancing guidelines.

New Placements

Placement restrictions have been lifted in Scotland and are being looked at in the rest of the UK. All carers should be aware that they may come under increased pressure to take on more children than normal.

  • Carers should not feel compelled to take a child if they do not think they can safely manage the situation.
  • Be extremely cautious if it is suggested that children can share rooms.
  • Remember that you will be held responsible for anything that happens in your home even if social work says it’ll be ok.
  • Ask for written information about any new child and do not feel pressured into accepting a new child on the spot. 
  • Carers are within their right to ask for time to think before giving an answer. Consider all the implications of taking a new placement then phone the referer back once you’ve made your decision.

Sick Pay

Carers will not know whether or not new children coming to them have been exposed to the virus.

  • It is perfectly acceptable to ask if your IFA or LA will pay you sick pay if you contract the virus and cannot work.

Mental Health

We are aware carers are dealing with extremely difficult in the circumstances. It is important, where you can, to build some self care into your daily routine. First thing in the morning, after bedtime, a cup of tea or a quick shower  – whenever you can, try to find small ways to give yourself a chance to recharge your batteries. If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious:

  • Talk to fellow foster carers – someone will have experienced whatever you are going through and will be willing to provide support and advice.
  • Post on our FB Group page for support. We are all there for each other. 
  • Send an email to your SSW to let them know if you have concerns or you feel need additional support. If you can, be specific about what the challenges are how you would like them to help. 

Membership

Please be aware that we are expecting a surge in the number of allegations made against foster carers in the weeks and months ahead. First and foremost we support our members.  

  • We will be adhering strictly to the rule that we cannot represent foster carers whose issue predates their membership.
  • Please spread this message to fellow foster carers urgently. It is very difficult to turn people away when they are in need, but like insurance, you cannot sign up after the fact. 

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