Allegations against a foster carer by a child in their care is a subject most carers would rather not think about, believing it couldn’t happen to us. Sadly it happens to many of us and the majority of those who have allegations made against them are not new carers but experienced ones, just like a friend of mine and her husband who’d been fostering for 10 years.
Most of us are on our summer holidays now either relaxing at home (with days out) or away, but we can’t afford to relax our guard or safer caring policy. We need to be as vigilant as ever as my friend and her family found out. She and her husband took their son, daughter and foster daughter (all teenagers) away on a family holiday. When they returned their foster daughter didn’t want to help unpack and thought she’d go out for the evening. My friend said she should help unpack first so the girl ran away. When she didn’t come back that evening they had to report her missing to the police. She was found quite easily but wanted to stay with her mates and said she wasn’t going back to the carer’s as their son was a pervert. When pressed she said he had groped her while on holiday.
Child protection swung into action. The police arrived at the carers home and interviewed her and husband and her own children separately. They were devastated and felt as though they had already been found guilty. Their son couldn’t think of any instance that could have been misinterpreted by the girl and was as upset and horrified as the rest of the family. My friend and her husband naturally blamed themselves for not keeping a closer watch. Of course the young people had never been left unattended, but they were all teenagers and could swim well so at times they had been in the pool together – where the incident was supposed to have taken place – while my friend and her husband sat by the poolside listening to music or reading a book.
Three days later the girl withdrew the allegation and admitted she’d made it up as she was angry with the carer for not letting her go out. She was sorry and wanted to return to live with them (where she had been happy for over a year). That wasn’t possible, they were still under investigation as the process for investigating allegations is lengthy and can’t be stopped as easily or quickly as it is begun. It was three months before they were cleared and they decided not to foster again.
The vast majority of allegations against foster carers are unfounded, but the damage they do is often irreparable. We can’t protect ourselves completely from allegations but following our safer caring policies and being vigilant even on holiday can help. You didn’t really think you were going to be allowed to relax on holiday, did you?
Visit our allegations page to find out what support is available from The Fostering Network should you face an allegation.