In the tribunal case brought by foster carers James and Christine Johnstone against Glasgow City Council, Mr and Mrs Johnstone were judged to be employees of the council in their role within the Multi-Dimensional Treatment Foster Care team.
In his ruling yesterday, Judge McFatridge stated: ‘In finding for the claimants in this case I am not in any way making a finding about the status of ordinary mainstream foster carers. What I am saying is that on the basis of the facts in the current case, the claimants were employees of the respondents.’
In response to this decision Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: ‘Even though this judgement does not set a precedent for all foster carers, it is very clear that there can be no excuse for a ‘business as usual’ attitude towards fostering.
‘For too many years foster carers have not been given the status, respect, training, support and remuneration that they deserve and which they require in order to be able to look after the children in their care. This is not only crucial for the recruitment and retention of foster carers but, equally importantly, for the tens of thousands of children who are fostered every day.
‘In our recent State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey only a third described out of hours support as ‘could be better’ or ‘poor’ and almost a half of foster carers did not have an agreed training plan for the next year. The Fostering Network has long campaigned for change in these and other areas - such as the need for foster carers to be covered by whistleblowing legislation.
‘We look forward to working with all those involved in the lives of fostered children to ensure the implications of this judgement – that foster carers must be afforded proper respect, remuneration, training and support – will make foster care the best it can be for foster carers and, vitally, for fostered children.
‘With opportunities such as the care review in Scotland and the national fostering stocktake in England, the onus now is on all four UK governments to ensure that foster carers who are looking after children on their behalf are given every opportunity and resource to be able to do this to the highest level.’