The notion of professionalising foster care has been on the agenda for some time, it appears that it is the logistics of this that create the barrier....what about sick and holiday absence? What about legislation around hours of work and taking regular breaks? But the detail perhaps serves to cloud the significance of the crucial bigger picture.
For years, I have listened to foster carers reflect upon situations, where they have conveyed that they were not seen as professionals and that their views were not sought, or considered with any conviction. Some are able to reflect more deeply and acknowledge that some of this is attributable to their own confidence levels and that they can sometimes struggle to ‘find their voice’. I would assert that this is not just the domain of foster care, as more and more often, services for children are organised in multi agency and integrated contexts, leading to there being a range of people with varying professional status being involved in the care a child receives.
This, in itself, has turned notions of professional hierarchy on its head. In the realms of foster care, whether a foster carer lacks some confidence or is highly assertive, the fact remains that the foster carer spends most time with the child, they are charged with keeping accurate records and appropriate information sharing. They have front line responsibility for safeguarding the welfare of the child and for ensuring that the every child matters agenda (or 'help children achieve more') is fulfilled. They have to balance personal and professional values and manage the inevitable interplay between the two. Regular learning and development and supervision is central to their role. They have to maintain a work ethic, yet be on call 24 hours a day. Sounds like a professional to me.
Service Development Manager