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The Foster Care Workers Branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is calling on the government to introduce urgent measures to ensure Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies respect the right of foster care workers to keep their families and the children in their care as safe as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide the financial support necessary for them to do this. The branch has appealed directly to the Secretary of State for Education, Health Minister and the Minister for Children and Young People.
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Letters to Government Ministers
We have written to the Government Minister responsible for foster carers in every area of the UK. We need them to ACT NOW to protect foster cares health and livelihoods.
Download and read the letters:
FCWU – Covid-19 Statement
The Foster Care Workers Branch of the IWGB is calling for all Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies to respect the right of foster carers to keep themselves, their families and the children in their care as safe as possible during this pandemic.
We therefore demand that foster carers are not asked to attend face to face meetings, unless in an emergency, during this time. The following few weeks will be difficult for many foster families and while face to face supervision will not be taking place it is important that regular supervision is still offered via phone or video call facilities. Given that many Supervising Social Workers will themselves be off sick, self isolating or moved to other roles it is vital that all foster carers have a duty phone number that will be answered that they can contact when needing help or advice. Fostering can be isolating at the best of times and it is important that foster carers do not feel forgotten about or neglected during this difficult period.
During this pandemic it is inevitable that some foster carers will become too unwell to care for children for a period of time. We call on all LAs and IFAs to pay a retainer of equal value to the normal fostering fee to any foster carer who needs time off to recover from the coronavirus. Currently foster carers are not eligible for statutory sick pay so they must not be put in a position where they cannot afford to pay priority bills due to this illness. Like other precarious workers we need the government to commit to supporting us financially while we face this crisis.
To keep our members safe we need adjustments to be made to contact arrangements with families to minimise risk. Going forward contact should be via phone or video calls to allow relationships be maintained while still following government guidelines on social distancing.
As foster carers, we are well aware that additional moves are not beneficial to children and young people and therefore we ask that stability for children during these concerning times is maintained where possible. However, we also recognise that fostering is an all consuming role and ask that alternative provision is made for children if their carer becomes too unwell to meet their needs. As foster carers we are all used to going the extra mile when necessary but it should never be expected that foster carers will undermine their own physical and mental wellbeing to meet the needs of the service. It is also highly likely that some foster carers will need to make immediate decisions regarding the care of children, for example asking a fostering family member to care for a child if their main carer becomes unwell. It is expected that fostering services will respect foster carers decision making skills in this situation and no punitive action is taken if a carer makes a sensible decision while unable to contact their normal social work supports.
We are aware that many children and young people in foster care will be fearful about the effects of COVID-19 and this may trigger other traumatic memories. This along with the prospect of people spending a number of weeks cooped up in the house will undoubtedly lead to a rise in allegations made against foster carers. We urge all fostering providers to investigate these in a fair and transparent manner and ensure that everyone is heard before decisions are made.