Allegations of Abuse
There may be many reasons why a young person may make an allegation whilst being carers for by foster carers. The first reason being some children really are abused by foster carers and do suffer sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and are neglected by the people who are supposed to be caring for them. Thankfully the numbers of children that are actually abused within care these days is a very small percentage of the overall total of allegations per year.
Why then you may ask are the majority of allegations against foster carers unfounded or unsubstantiated, being false or misinterpreted? For some children living in the care system, a false allegation may appear to be the solution for an out of control life, uncomfortable feelings of attachment or a quest to be returned home to their birth family. Allegations are/can be made by anyone and often include birth parents, school teachers, neighbours, social workers, other foster carers and anyone with an interest in the child’s welfare or not in the case of false allegations.
All allegations of abuse have to be investigated by the Local Authority, sometimes with the child being removed from the foster placement, sometimes not. If it seems like a crime has been committed, the Police will be part of the investigative process. This can be a really challenging time for foster carers, as they may not know of the reasons as to why they are being investigated or why their foster child may have been removed from their care.
Fostering agencies and social workers are prevented by law to discuss the details of allegations, which may put pressure on the relationship between the agency /SSW and the foster carer.
What can help situations where a false allegation has been made is ‘Restorative Justice Mediation’, which allows the foster carers and the child to express the feelings evoked by the unfounded or false allegation. Often relationships spanning a period of years between the carers and children can be salvaged from this process.
Support at the time of an allegation is very important for foster carers and it can sometimes feel limited for them from their supervising social workers and fostering agency.
Fostering agencies are required to provide support for foster carers during these difficult periods, but foster carers need to resource their own support as well. This can be through support groups, family support , fostering network and foster talk provide basic telephone and information support.
Professional and independent support for foster carers dealing with allegations is provided by Fostering Support , who are a well established reputable company whose support services are utilised by fostering agencies and foster carers around the UK.