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Allegations Against Foster Carers
Fostering makes a huge difference to vulnerable young people’s lives, helping them to build happier and brighter futures with better life chances. It is one of the most rewarding careers you can have, but it is also a huge commitment. Working with vulnerable people, especially children, doesn’t come without its own challenges.. Many of the young people will have had negative experiences in their early life and have suffered from abuse or neglect. This is inherently part of the nature of fostering! However, this can also put foster carers at risk of allegations during their time as a foster carer and throughout their career.
An allegation is an assertion that you, or a member of your fostering household, has behaved inappropriately in some way. This behaviour may or may not have harmed the child or put them at risk. Examples of allegations may include a criminal offence, acting neglectfully towards the child, harming them in some way (physical or emotional), or any other form of mistreatment.
Allegations can be made against anyone in a fostering home, or even external family members. The allegation could be made by the foster child or another guardian such as a teacher.
Every fostering service has a legal duty under the Children Act 1947 to investigate the accusation to ensure the child is safe and receiving the help they need. The investigation can involve the local authority and the fostering agency, as well as the police.
Fosterline, a UK non-profit who offer support for foster carers, write that research has shown that the majority of allegations (78%) are unsubstantiated. The reasons for these types of claims vary. Vulnerable young people who make these claims may not realise how serious they are and the severity of the situation. Claims can be made on the spur of the moment when emotions are high, they may be said to gain attention, or they may have experienced a trigger from their past experiences.
Although there is no way to completely ensure false allegations won’t affect you, there are some actions you can take to minimise risk. The following will ensure you are as protected as you can be, and that the best interests of the child are always centred:
Although all allegations are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated, you will still be supported during this time. Advice, guidance, and support are available from professionals at Fusion Fostering in the event of any allegations.
There are also many services that offer support. You can contact independent fostering advisors at Fosterline by calling 0800 040 7675. The Fostering Network also has a useful booklet you can purchase with information and advice.