While reading his most recent report, I was both happy to learn that Roger Morgan, Children's Right's Director (pictured left) is listening to the insights and experiences of foster children in England, and saddened to learn that the British foster care system has many similar problems to those that we experience here in the U.S.A.
A Meeting of Strangers
One-third of the young people report needing more information about foster parents before moving in -- and one-third of foster parents report needing more information about the child. There are safety concerns on both sides.
Young people reported that it is very important to them to get the right placement the first time, rather than shuttling from one foster home to another, looking for the right fit.
An insufficient range of placements makes this difficult, and youth long for social workers to go the extra mile by keeping tabs on new placements and having a suitable backup placement in mind if the first one doesn't work out.
Desire For Advocacy
Young people requested that they be able to go to a person of their choice with problems. They wanted to select their own mentor.
Youth in England's foster care system greatly desire an advocate, especially when reviewing their case plan. They want the power to request an independent review of their case plan, if they feel that something is happening that is not in their best interests.
In addition, there are deep concerns about what is written in their file and the level of confidentiality. Should their file be shared with other people by the caseworker? Is it accurate? Would sharing the information within serve to help or harm?
Could the young people request to read their foster care file, and check its veracity? If they read something in it that is not true, how can that information be changed? The young people requested that it be considered a (punishable) offense for someone to write something false about them in their files.
Loss Of Continuity
Foster youth were upset about losing hobbies and activities that they had started due to changing placements. Young people also reported a lack of opportunity for community, school, athletic involvement, and said that boredom was leading them into trouble.
Young people want to be able to stay in contact with previous foster care placements if they wish to do so, unless there are valid reasons not to allow it.
Lack of Availability
There are concerns about frequently changing social workers, broken promises, lack of contact and regular visitation with social workers -- especially for youth who are placed further away.
Some youth report having no way to contact their social worker. Young people in foster care often wish they could choose their social worker, since this person has such an enormous amount of power over their life.
Regarding adoption, youth want full information about the process of adoption, the reasons they needed to be adopted and the choice of whether or not to receive news about their birth families. They also report being rushed through the adoption, without given time to adjust emotionally.
Released Unprepared Into the Adult World
In additional, it appears that in England, as here, there are huge concerns about aging out of care. Youth reported that not all social workers were advocating for them to receive assistance or informing them about available resources.
For more information, please visit: www.rights4me.org
Dr. Roger Morgan, Children's Rights Director
Policy by Children: A Children's Views Report