"Help our Foster Carers help our youth" Better support for carers better outcomes for kids
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Foster carers are different to those who are adopting or providing a home for life situation, they will often have children of high needs coming through their home, that are short or long term stays, but are not permanent.
Imagine looking after children that you don't know, being dropped off with sometimes barely a days notice. The child will most likely be withdrawn and have behavioural issues, you are given very little information due to confidentiality, and may not see the social worker for some time. You have other children you need to think about too, and you have work, you need to enrol him in school, and he is not talking or eating. In a matter of weeks he has run away multiple times from school, and you've had to attend countless meetings with teachers, as his behaviour is disruptive, and has been bullying the other students. After many sick days off work and not being able to attend to the other children, due to the young lad needing so much care and attention, you make a decision for your family that you can no longer take care of children in need. You need to continue to work, to meet the rising the cost of ordinary day to day life for own family.
Therefore what happens to the precious children that so desperately need a home? Group homes? This is where carers do get paid and are entitled to sick days and annual leave and work in shifts (not 24 hours per day like in your own home), however the downside is that our children in care will most likely learn bad behaviours, and are not getting the care, love and support they need, that they would get from a family situation. Being with a family they will also learn important life skills that they will need for their future family and relationships. They will learn that abuse or neglect is not normal. Invest in our Carers now, and save in the future.
Imagine this scenario where there are agencies that do consider the time and energy needed to take care of our foster children, however there is a catch. Firstly the contracts, they are in favour of the agency, as they are independent contracts, normally drawn up by the agency themselves. So there is minimal room for negotiation and very little protection for our carers, as they are not covered by our standard employment laws and get no sick days or annual leave, pay is less than $4 dollars an hour.
Secondly, you are required to be at home and available for this child so may mean you are not allowed to work, and you are required to attend all meetings more than usual (so you could be involved in court cases, mediation, FGC's, supervision with family (basically a social workers role), you must complete numerous amounts of training. Carers are also required to transport the child to and from several services they may need, to accommodate their high needs.
Home life is centred around these children because of these high needs, and many of our foster families suffer greatly as a result. There are risk's to the foster family psychically, as well as mentally and we take this for granted. Unfortunately we don't place our foster careers at the highest of societies list of what is respected professions, as we don't see it as a profession. We see it as a "Way of life". Many carers are not equipped to deal with many of the unfortunate behaviours that they will encounter, and therefore we are setting our children in care up for failure and possibly more trauma. Surely we can prepare our carers with proper training and be recognised as a professional, who is employed and paid to provide the specialised behaviour techniques, to be able to give life changing care. Give our carers sick days and annual leave, allow for the hazards associated with such an honourable career, just like the police, social workers, youth workers, care assistants, and the list goes on.
Our children in care have or will end up in multiple placements, as placements continuously breakdown overtime, because of the lack of support and financial stress that is placed on our foster carers.
Our young people desperately need our help, lets give our foster careers the dignity and respect they deserve, they are sacrificing so much for those who without their help could potential and most likely will be the outcast and criminals of our society. Its time to change our thinking, really help our young people in care, start by setting up a home for them that is truly supportive and not in a home in need themselves, lets give the respect our foster carers need just like we do for police, ministers, social workers, care assistance, family carers, please sign the petition.
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