How to make change happen
Local Level Change
Be supported and empowered to collectively take action to make immediate improvements to your fostering terms and conditions on a local level.
Big change can take time, but there is so much you and your fellow foster carers can do to improve things at a local level right now. Foster carers just like you have begun organising within their Local Authority or Trust – working together, campaigning on key local issues, gaining power, keeping safe and winning.
Examples of type of improvements you can organise and win can include:
- Mileage allowance paid in line with LA or IFA employees
- Payment in lieu for unused holiday entitlement
- Improved health and safety measures
- Payment of a fees retainer while without placement
- Reduction or scrapping of Council Tax for fostering households
- Introduction or improvement of carer skill fees and progressive fee bands link to clear criteria
A single voice is easy to dismiss and target. If you take a stand against management as an individual, you are likely to feel the full repercussions for doing so. However take a stand as a collective and they simply cannot afford to bed block or deregister the majority of their workforce. Many voices together are not only louder, they are also safer.
To start making local change get in touch about setting up or joining your local members group
National Level Change
Collectively campaigning in your nation for the professional recognition of Foster Care Workers and the creation of a central regulatory body.
The rules and regulations around fostering, including the statutory rights and responsibilities of foster carers and how they are viewed and treated within the Social Work sector sits within the remit of your national government (Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland).
Currently there is no independent body (like there is for Social Work, Childminding, Nursing, Teaching) to regulate foster carers. No one is legally responsible for your care and wellbeing and you are not deemed part of the professional social work team – despite the fact that without you, there would be no foster care.
Professional recognition by national governments and the creation of a national central regulatory body would:
- Allow for minimum professional standards to be set to improve both the quality of care by and for foster carers. Current standards outline your responsibilities as a foster carer but provide little in the way of rights in return. Statutory measures could be revised and improved with the support of a central regulatory body to oversee them.
- Provide an independent body to assess, register, investigate and deregister foster carers. You are currently “owned” and at the mercy of your LAs & IFAs when it comes to their registration – allowing bullying, exploitation and scapegoating to run rampant. An independent body would remove that power imbalance and allow you to be treated with fairness and impartiality.
- Make foster carer registrations portable. Being registered to a single LA wastes resources and opens the door to profit making IFAs. Currently you could be sitting in for months with an open space while a neighbouring LA or Trust has run out of spaces. It would mean you would only have to go through the assessment process once but could work for any nearby LA or move to a different part of the country and continue fostering without having to be reassessed.
- Allow for complaints and allegations to be managed and investigated in a standardised, fair and impartial way. Giving an independent body the responsibility of undertaking investigations into allegations or complaints of misconduct by foster carers and recommend subsequent changes to registration. This would follow evidenced based assessments and the opportunity for you to make representation before any judgement is passed. It would also set standards for referral from the LA/IFA which give due consideration as to the context of how or why an allegation or complaint may have come about.
- Allow for the standardisation of training and qualifications. Ensuring all foster carers are given access to the same level and quality of training, which is kept up-to-date and inline with statutory requirements. This would give you the confidence and skills to provide the children and young people the best possible care .
UK Wide Level Change
Collectively campaigning the UK government to recognise Foster Care Workers as Self Employed Limb B Workers (Dependent Contractors).
The ultimate aim of the branch is for the UK to recognise foster carers for what you already are: Workers. Being given worker status would give you access to minimum workers rights:
- getting the National Minimum Wage
- protection against unlawful deductions from wages
- the statutory minimum level of paid holiday
- the statutory minimum length of rest breaks
- protection against unlawful discrimination
- protection for ‘whistleblowing’ – reporting wrongdoing in the workplace
- to not be treated less favourably if they work part-time
- the possibility of statutory sick pay
This is not the same as being an employee. Worker status would give you the above rights while still maintaining your self-employed status and tax break. As it currently stands the UK government view you as a Self Employed (Independent Contractors). To put this into perspective, if you were truly an independent contractor you would be able to sub-contract, take leave as and when you choose and set your own rates of pay and hours.
You and fellow foster carers are encouraged to engage with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Foster Care Workers in Westminster to address the issues of workers rights. The summary of the APPG’s work to date is the proposed Foster Care Workers Bill.