Letter: Children let down by shift in fostering

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Sir: Congratulations to Kenneth Redgrave for bringing to public notice some of the discrepancies of the social services (letter, 18 November). Having been a foster mother for 45 years, I have seen all the changes over the years.

When I first became a foster mother, you had a child and it stayed with you all through childhood, started a career, got married and brought the children to see their grandma. This is now completely impossible. The system is making the children angry and violent.

Children coming from homes because of neglect, cruelty or violence are put immediately with foster carers, instead of a period of training or rehabilitation. Often they are sent to inexperienced carers, and it breaks down. The older, more experienced carers are "thrown out", instead of being used to help and train the inexperienced (social workers do not have time for this).

Children are virtually cast out at 16. Lip service is paid to finding them accommodation, which they often cannot afford to maintain. That is why so many of these children are on the streets, sleeping rough or in prostitution, with no links to go back to, as in most cases fostering has only been a short-term affair.

These children get the blame for many things that they are the victims of, not the perpetrators.

Raising the pay to carers is not the answer, even though the lowest pay is about 30p an hour. There is the insecurity of fostering: you are self- employed, with no rights, no pension, no paid holidays - though some local authorities are now addressing the holiday question.

When will the powers that be realise that things are getting worse and worse? The victims will be the children. They cry out for stability and a home life.

HELENA F MORRIS

Wick, Hereford and Worcester

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