Wednesday 1 March 2017

'Foster carers are already professionals, it's time they were treated as such,' GMB union tells select committee

GMB Foster carers who are members of the GMB union met with MPs today to demand proper recognition for dedicated members who look after vulnerable children.

Rachel Harrison, GMB lead officer on Foster Care, gave evidence to the Fostering Inquiry at a Select Committee.

The delegation of carers also met Labour MPs following the hearing, including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Disturbing new figures show just 42% of foster carers felt their allowance met the full cost of looking after fostered children.

This compares to 80% in 2014, showing huge cuts in local government funding are badly hurting our foster carers.

GMB foster carers made the following demands:

· Nationwide standards and funding

Foster carers have vastly different experiences across the country - there needs to be a more consistent approach to foster care

· Professional recognition and respect

A lot is expected of foster carers, with increasing demand and fewer local government resources. Only a third (32%) felt that children's social workers treated them as equal.

· A national register of foster carers

This would allow for foster carers to look after children from other areas, cut red tape, remove local barriers, provide greater stability and save on costs of private care.

Figures from the Fostering Network show 49% of foster carers did not have an agreed training plan for the next year and 75% of those who had taken a child from outside their approval range received no additional training or support.

Rachel Harrison, GMB Lead Officer for Foster Carers said:
We're proud to be the union to represent foster carers. 
These people give their all to look after the most vulnerable children in society and it was vital we got across to MPs today the challenges faced by our members and how we can work with others to push for improvements in the foster care system, for the benefit of both the children and carers.
Colleen Callaghan, Foster Carer and GMB member, said:
It was fantastic to see MPs listening to our trade union really represent foster carers and give us the opportunity to tell it like it is - explaining to politicians what's needed to improve foster care in this country, for us and the children we care for. 
It was a welcome opportunity to see how politics can actually relate to us and hopefully change things for the better.

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