My name is Doris, I'm 68yrs old and up until 2yrs ago I was a foster mum. I was forced to retire from a job that I had been doing for 26yrs, a job that I loved. Over the years, I have taken in angry teenagers, given them love and security, then gently pushed them out into the world, most of them becoming a successful part of society. It was a very rewarding job, but really hard work, these days I'm an emergency foster mum to puppies and kittens who have been rejected by their mothers or orphaned. I have to hand rear them, feeding them every two hours, until they are ready to be re-homed, I also do a lot of charity work, I'm the one that shakes a bucket in your face when you're out shopping...
Yesterday this post caught my eye https://steemit.com/familyprotection/@chatterboxchick/have-i-been-lied-to-my-story-in-care
I wanted to tell you about a girl called Laura, who was in my care for about 5yrs. Her story was very similar to the girl who wrote the post above. I want to address the issues of a young person leaving the care system, making an application for their file from Social Services. It's not easy, there are protocols in place, they only give you the information, they want you to see.
I know this because it happened to Laura, as a foster parent, we are not privy to all of the information held on file, we are only told about ongoing health issues, any particular behaviour problems or criminal record. We are not privy to information about the child's parents or why they have been placed with a foster family. Personally, I feel that the information we are given is, at best, minimal and often not entirely true. As foster parents, we are often left to pick up the emotional distress of the child, with very little help from the system.
Laura wasn't as bright as some of the teenagers we looked after, she had mild learning difficulties and didn't have the confidence to leave us when she was old enough. She stayed with us until she was almost 21yrs old. She requested her file from her social worker when she turned 18, six months later she still hadn't received them. The first excuse was, they'd lost her file, then her social worker took Laura for lunch, persuading her she didn't need her file. I left it, Laura was 18, her decision. Four months later Laura decided that she would like to see her file after all, again, her social worker tried to fob her off by saying, she would have to apply in writing for her file. She gave her a form to fill in and an address to send it back to. One month went by, then two, then three, after seven months she still hadn't received her file.
I took it upon myself to help Laura, I wrote a very, straight to the point letter to my local MP, voicing how disgusted I was at how Laura was being treated by Social Services, I used some very choice words but I did receive a reply, three weeks later. He had arranged a meeting for me and Laura, with the Head of Social Services at County Hall, to try and solve this issue. We went to the meeting and to be honest, she was very sympathetic about the situation, I came away feeling quite triumphant, convinced Laura would get her file soon.
Two weeks later her file dropped through my letterbox, I didn't have to sign for it, which means it was sent through the normal post. Correct me if I'm wrong, sending sensitive documents through the postal service is pretty stupid?? Her social worker could have delivered it by hand.
Laura and I sat down with a cup of tea, she opened the file and started to read, then she started flicking through the pages quicker and quicker, she was visibly upset, then she threw it against the wall!! I picked it up and started to flick through it. I can see why she was upset, I would say at least three quarters of her file was blacked out. Things were written about Laura which Social Services obviously didn't want her to see!!
I phoned her social worker to ask about the blacked out file, she told me that Social Services have a duty of care to Laura and have a right to omit any information, they feel, might affect Laura's well being in the future - what a lot of tosh in my opinion!! I spoke to a family solicitor on Laura's behalf and was told that it was highly unlikely that a court, would overturn a decision to remove the blackout from Laura's file.
I found Laura's treatment to be unacceptable and I let her social worker know how I felt, if I'm honest, it was the last straw for me, I had seen a lot of changes over the years and not for the better. When I first started as a foster carer, we were encouraged to give kids a long term home, where they could grow, have stability, an education and to experience a loving environment. Some kids are now moved from foster home to foster home, sometimes no reason is given, I worry about what kind of adults those kids will become.
@chatterboxchick I hope you find what you are looking for, please don't get disheartened if you don't. You look like a very happy young woman, don't let Social Services change that.