89% Of Foster Carer Members In Torbay Are Unable To Comply With New Fostering Agreement
The comments we have received from members are a damning indictment of the current situation in Torbay foster care says GMB.
89 per cent of GMB members working as foster carers in Torbay are unable to comply with a convoluted new agreement according to a consultative ballot. The council has told foster carers that they must sign the agreements by Tomorrow (Tuesday 31st August 2016).
The ballot asked members if they fully understood and felt able to comply with changes to the agreement proposed by Torbay council. The new agreement will significantly change terms and conditions for foster carers who the council classes as self-employed.
GMB considers the new contract to be a clear attempt to pass many of the Council's obligations onto the Foster Carers themselves (see notes to editors for GMB members’ comments on the new agreement).The union has repeatedly requested meetings with various departmental officials to discuss members' concerns, but no such meeting has been forthcoming.
Matt Roberts, GMB Regional Organiser, said "The work that foster carers do is massively important to society. It's clear that GMB members in Torbay who already do such a challenging and commendable role, feel a great deal of unnecessary stress and strain as a direct result of the Council's approach. I would urge the department to meet with me, to begin to sensibly address our members' concerns.
The comments we have received from members are a damning indictment of the current situation in Torbay foster care. GMB call on Torbay Council to take our members’ concerns seriously, and respond to and meet with their union, to work out how to put this mess right.”
Contact: Matt Roberts on 07813 542038 or GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
1 Comments from GMB members on ‘Agreement for the placement of children and young people with in’house foster carers.’
"The new contract is onerous and hard to understand. There was no consultation before it was introduced and we are disappointed by the lack of communication from Torbay regarding our concerns."
"We work 24/7, 364.25 days a year, and are treated very poorly."
"I have heard there is a third, better Agreement, which is more agreeable, but this has only been offered to a select few carers."
"I do not believe I can comply with the wording on the new Agreement."
"We find Torbay lack basic competence when it comes to lines of communication."
"The new Agreement is a significant change and we have been asked to sign it with no consultation prior to its release."
"I will not sign the new Agreement to support my fellow Foster Carers."
"All services seem to focus on the negatives and now [they] have given us a disproportionate Agreement, how can this be child focused?"
"We have no one in the Council on our side, it feels like a battle and it shouldn't."
"Most foster carers are feeling bullied at the moment and feel we have to do what we are told no matter what."
"Torbay Council is a dictatorship in relation to foster carers."
"Aren't we supposed to be working together in the spirit of cooperation, or does this only work one way with the Council?"
"We already have a bad deal being self-employed - no paid holiday, sickness etc - and this will make it worse."
"We feel like we are wrecking our lives for a passion."
"If we complain or make a fuss about the council’s treatment of a child they are taken to the fostering panel and either penalised or deregistered. The panel is biased very much in favour of the council and believes anything a Social Worker says no matter how untrue it is proven to be."
"Very disappointed with Children's Services lack of response, adding pressure and stress."
"We need to understand and be happy to sign, but the department try to stop us speaking to anyone."
"I've fostered for years for Torbay, and [have] never known treatment like this."
"Foster carers feel that to keep their jobs they have to just keep on smiling and saying yes to whoever they see from the council and not raise any concerns with regard to the people who work for the council or any documents they are given."
"We feel as though we are not being listened to and we want the best for the children and for us."
"There is a barrier - it's us and them."
"I know that many of my fellow foster carers are too scared to complain in case they get penalised or deregistered as a punishment."
"We feel the Council isn't really engaged in looking after children and is more about officials climbing the ladder to boost their pensions."
"Most foster carers feel that the council does not give them enough information on the children they look after when they are placed, this can put the children in a vulnerable position as it is difficult caring for a child where not all of their previous history is known. As I’m sure you understand children who have been abused and neglected can have a wide variety of behaviours and fears which foster carers need to know about."
"The Social Worker's word is always believed about a foster carer, even when there is written proof that the social worker is wrong."