The United Nations Convention on the rights of the child was adopted in 1989, it applies to all individuals under the age of 18. Pursuant to this Convention, those who it applies to shall be recognised, respected and protected as rights holders and as a unique and valuable human beings. By these means, the United Kingdom (UK) is committed to valuing, respecting and listening to children as well as maintaining child protection systems.

A minor may be removed from the family home and placed in a child protection facility when the child's health, safety or morals are in danger or when the conditions for his or her education or physicial, emotional, intellectual and social development are seriously compromised

  1. What is the foster care system
  2. How to foster a child
  3. Limits of the Foster care System

What is the Foster Care System?

A placement measure is ordered by a juvenile judge to protect the minor, This placement measure for a child can be taken simultaneaously for several children from the same family. The provisional placement order is pronounced for a period of time, and must be reviewed when the time comes. 

There are different types of foster care in the UK, however, all types require the same type of training from the care givers. 

Care givers may welcome a child into their home on the long term, meaning that the child cannot go back to its birth family but does not wish to be adopter, in which case, the care giver will foster the child until they turn 18. 

Care givers may also foster children on the short term which means that they will open their doors to children for a short period until a plan has been drawn out for the child in question. 

Care givers may also be related to the child or friends of the family, in which case they may take care of the child, if willing to do so. 

Care givers may also welcome a child as an emergency, in which case, the period of the child's stay in the care givers house hold may last less than 24 hours, as the purpose is to provide a safe environment for the child during an emergency.

Care givers may also be needed if the birth parents need a break, this applies to children who have disabilities, special educational needs of behavioural issues.

Children may also need foster care if they have been remanded by a court, in which case, the care giver shall need a specialist training to endeavour such type of care.

If the care giver wishes to adopt babies or young children, the individual has to have been approved as an adopter by a local council or agency to do fostering for adoption. Such fostering is entitled to adoption pay.

Finally, experienced foster parents who have certain skills are eligible to provide specialist therapeutic care for children with difficult behaviours and needs. 

In the UK, child protection turned into an economic sector in its own right by awarding regional performance bonuses based on the number of children placed in the national adoption market, In 2008, the government abolished theses bonuses in the full glare of the media spotlight, but adoptiong and fostering agencies had already sprung up. The number of children removed from their families and the number of domestic adoptions has significantly risen. 

If you wish to know more about foster care and how to access the system, click here.

How to foster a Child

To welcome a child into your household, agencies expect care givers to provide 24-hour care and supervision everyday, and for the carer to be able to undertake such economic expenditures. The household of the carer shall live in an environment free of any type of danger and must undergo a complete criminal service background check.

Foster families welcome and open their doors to children for an extended and temporary period of time. Even though the period may only be temporary, taking care of children is extremely important, as those carers become very significant in the life of the child, which is a huge commitment and a determining factor in the life of the child. 

The duration of the fostering of the child will depend on the type of foster care, it may go from one night, to many years, or until the child turns 18.

Becoming a foster parent is a long process, it may take up to 2 years from the time the decision has been made to finally being matched to a child. During that period the interested carers will have to undergo a series of training, licensing and orientation in order to qualify as a competent care giver. This is to optimise the chances of the child's comfort and unfolding of the child in need.

Limits of the Foster care system

The Children Act, which passed in 1989 under Margaret Thacther, allows social services to remove children from parents on suspicion on abuse, which led to many cases where the removal of the children was not contested. It is clear that there are certain criteria for removal that are hardly tangible, and that there is a big blind spot as to when the child must be removed from its family and when it is in safe conditions. 

The child welfare system is broken as there is an increasingly significant amount of children in need of care, too little social workers and potential adoptive parents, few children being returned to their biological families and a decrease in potential foster families.

Beyond these issues, what happens once the child turns 18? The child welfare system is no longer legally in charge of those individuals leaving the foster care system, and they are not being followed and cared for, regardless how necessary that help is. 

Essentially, the purpose and work of this service is fundamentally good and altruistic, however, scandals and mistakes led to the foster care system being associated with deep fear of social services, silence of trauma victims, stigmatisation of precarious populations. As for the international institutions, although they have been alerted, nothing seems to be changing. 

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