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I wondered what experience Foster Carers have had in relation to accessing Independent Support, what this support has been like and what they would say to other Foster Carers who may benefit from this?
I think independent support is a great thing for carers – at a time they may feel alone, unsupported and very vulnerable, they can access emotional support and often just a listening ear makes all the difference
I know of situations where Independent Support has been refused. If your Fostering Provider is reluctant to provide Independent Support you can write or email your fostering service manager to politely remind them of National Minimum Standard 22.12 which says that Foster Carers facing allegations should be offered Independent Support. However the National Minimum Standards are Standards and not Regulations. If your request for Independent Support is still refused you could ask for a copy of the Fostering Service’s Complaints Procedure.
Hi if the independent support is refused, the agency can be remind if it goes to appeal the IRM would not be impressed at a foster carer being left to deal with such a sensitive area unsupported. Appealing higher up the agency may help as they may see the importance in the long term.
Whilst “peer support’ can be a really helpful part of a foster carers network I suspect it could fall short of support which is provided by specially trained advocacy/support workers. One other concern is that the Foster Carer providing support may not feel completely impartial..
the problem is that it is only a standard and therefore there is not legal requirement so carers are left unsupported. Also some carers are told about support but very late on in the allegation process
I’m aware that some agencies/IFAs are still providing ‘peer group’ support from fellow Foster Carers and that some foster carers have serious concerns re whether this support is ‘independent’ along with other concerns about confidentiality.
This does often appear to be the case. I suppose it is good to have the general support of other foster carers who have experienced allegations themselves but agree there are confidentiality issues if this is being used to replace Independent Support under NMS 22.12. The National Minimum Standard 22.12 makes it clear that the support offered following an allegation should be independent of the fostering service.
With BAAF losing some of its power and merging with Coram, the Independent Review Mechanism may be disbanded. This will mean the only right of appeal to foster carers would be the fostering panel which may have just de registered them. If fosters carers find themselves in this position then their membership organisations and possible independent support is all that is left.