I have recently had cause to turn my attention to the state of the British care system, and feel a responsibility to shine a light on the challenges children currently face going through such a set-up.
While I accept a certain amount of red tape has to be cut through and due diligence taken when it comes to finding safe and secure homes, it also shouldn’t be such an arduous process and one where the children are innocent victims.
But who is really responsible for this stressful status quo? If we were to take a step back, pull out a zoom lens, then zero-in on the culprits making life so tough for the youth in this predicament, who has blood on their hands?
Does the blame lay solely with the parents, naively producing offspring like it’s the latest craze without proper thought and consideration as to how they’re actually going to provide and care for them? So often putting their own needs before those of the helpless offspring—and expecting tax-payers to fund this ineptitude?
Or should the authorities also shoulder their share of the glare?
Unquestionably they have an unenviable job. Making potentially life-changing calls on whether or not to leave vulnerable children in hostile environments with volatile parents, put them into care, or find them a short or long-term foster home, can never be done without thorough assessments and detailed investigations.
However, the time it takes to work through this process—usually featuring lengthy family court hearings—and draw the right conclusions is a major issue. While decisions are being made, children—sometimes tiny babies—are left at risk of physical, sexual or mental abuse—and frequently just neglected; the parents thinking they may lose them so caring even less.
But no matter the age, it’s abundantly clear social workers have a near-impossible task in trying to facilitate the removal of vulnerable children from dangerous environments and relocating them into safe ones.
Funding plays a huge part. Yet, the reality is there’s a desperate shortage, all over the country, of short and long-term foster carers. So, no matter how much money you throw at the issue, a shortage will likely still remain.
One reason for this is the long and arduous process which applicants are forced to endure—a crusade which can last more than six months.
There’s a seemingly endless amount of form-filling, much of which appears to be repetition, while detailed digging has to be done into an applicant’s past; his or her childhood, schools attended, addresses lived at, and misdemeanours committed.
While I agree 100% that police record and sex offender register checks are essential, I don’t understand the relevance of someone’s childhood and teenage years in making a decision.
Personally, I’m a very different person now to the one I was in my formative years—and have constantly evolved as an adult. Life’s experiences—good and bad—all play a part in how we grow and develop as people, and our attitudes and opinions change as we mature and take responsibility for ourselves and our lives.
So why then is it necessary to dig down into a person’s childhood and teenage years in determining whether or not they’ll make good foster parents, sometimes two or three decades later?
Makes no sense to me. Plus, the lengthy application process does nothing to attract potential foster families, or aid the children waiting to be placed.
It’s easy to see why so many would-be foster carers pull out of the process before completion. The lengthy, invasive and stressful plight leaves many—who likely would have provided a happy and safe family environment—bereft and dealing with hopes and spirits crushed by such an outdated system.
There has to be a better way moving forward—one which will both encourage more people to seriously consider fostering, and simplify the whole process. It needs to become less about form-filling and more about nurturing good people in healthy family units.
Above all, it has to be about the children—whether tots, teens or somewhere in-between—who deserve a safe and happy environment where they can live, play, flourish and grow.
‘Til next time,