The decision by Rotherham Social Services to remove children from a couple who have been fostering for seven years throws several important issues into the mix. To what extent should someone’s alignment to a legitimate political party affect their ability to carry out their day to day business in a democratic country. More importantly, what does this decision say about those people who effectively are tasked with looking after children’s needs in Rotherham.
|Foster Carers need certain qualities
– Political Beliefs Aside
(Image © Stockton Council)
To take these points in turn, The couple in question were classed as ‘Emergency Foster Carers’. In english they are the people that are there when a child, or children, get taken away from their birth parents, often late at night, often in a traumatic ‘blue light’ situation. They are the people who open the doors to highly distressed, often extremely confused and disorientated children at a moment’s notice. They look after those children short term until they are either placed back with their families or moved onto a more medium term solution. These people play an absolutely critical part in the life of those children.
Emergency foster carers go through a pretty intrusive selection process. In that process their fundamental beliefs and values will have been investigated and challenged (as is the case for prospective adoptive parents). That would have happened to this couple seven years ago when the authorities were clearly satisfied that they would make suitable emergency carers. To get to a state now where just because they align themselves to a political party (which when I last looked was a perfectly legal one) they are judged to no longer to be capable of carrying out this sensitive, much needed role in society. Where it leads us in terms of freedom of beliefs and speech in modern society is a worrying thought.
Which brings me on to my main point. The role of Rotherham Social Services in all this is surely to look after the children. At the critical point in a child’s life when they are taken away often in traumatic circumstances their role is to look after the children. These carers have been carrying out this task for seven years. At a rate of 2 children every 2 months, that’s around 80 kids that may have passed through their care. One would hope therefore that the social services acknowledge they are good at this role (if not, why continue with them for so long?) Experienced emergency foster carers are not just readily available and experience in this sort of area counts for a lot.
How can an alignment to a political party affect that ability and experience? So what are we left with. A decision in the in the children’s best interests? The loss of two experienced foster carers to the system. Or a decision which addresses political correctness? I think the latter.
Possibly a good time to turn back to the mission statement on the wall and think about what Rotherham Social Services should focus on.