Children's social workers must value role of foster carers, charity warns

24 SEP 2009

Children's social workers must value the role of foster carers and recognise them as equal members of the child care team to ensure children are properly looked after, the Fostering Network is warning today.

A new report, Getting the support they need, has revealed that less than half of foster carers (44 per cent) feel the support they receive from children's social workers is 'good' or 'excellent', with a quarter saying it is 'poor'.

Moreover, more than half (51 per cent) of foster carers have looked after a child in the last three years for whom they were not given all the information they needed to care for them safely.

However, nearly all those foster carers surveyed (96 per cent) believe the right support from children's social workers is important for them to do their job properly and provide the best possible care for the children they look after.

In response, the Fostering Network is calling for all social workers working with children in care to undertake specific training in fostering to understand, respect and value the role of foster carers. The charity is also advising there should be a greater emphasis on fostering as part of social work degree courses.

In contrast, 75 per cent of foster carers rated support from their current supervising social worker as either 'excellent' or 'good', with nearly three quarters meeting with their social worker at least every six weeks.

Helen Clarke, report author, said; "The help and support of social workers is vital for foster carers to carry out their work. However, there needs to be a closer working relationship, particularly between the foster carer and the child's social worker.

"Children's social workers are under pressure. A greater understanding of fostering and recognition of foster carers as equal members of the child care team will help them to fulfil their legal duty to ensure children are properly looked after.

"The Fostering Network is about to launch Together for Change, a major new campaign to improve fostering that will include a focus on ensuring foster carers receive the support they need to provide the best possible care for children."

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