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Fostering and risk of allegations

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by TheOneTonBun, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. TheOneTonBun

    TheOneTonBun New commenter

    My wife and I are approved as foster carers but haven't got a first placement yet.

    She has just been on one of the mandatory trainings, which covered safeguarding and allegations and has come back seriously concerned.

    Apparently about 1 in 6 foster carers will have a false allegation made against them at some point that is then dropped after investigation.

    She understands that were this to happen to us, while we were being investigated I would be barred from teaching until cleared.

    I know a few teachers who do foster, or have done, one of whom has just been cleared of an allegation made this summer. He is under the impression that if the allegation had been investigated by the police (it wasn't) that even though he and his wife were cleared it would have gone on his permanent DBS. He didn't seem to know what would have happened if it had occurred in term time.

    I am about to embark on my NQT year and am now quite worried that fostering and receiving a false allegation would be much more risky than I had thought.

    Does anyone have any experience of this?
  2. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    I have no experience of this but your friend is quite correct in thinking that the false allegation MAY go on an enhanced DBS as "soft" information. Whether it does or not is a decision taken by the chief police constable in your area.


    I hate this law, whatever it's intention it can and does destroy peoples lives and livelihoods as a result of allegations even if all agree they are false.

    The ultimate decision to employ is in the gift of the head teacher. But which headteacher is going to employ someone when a safeguarding allegation is on their enhanced DBS even if there is note added that it was false?

    I know someone will argue "think of the children" or bring up Ian Huntley* but I cannot help thinking that the law throws the baby out with the bathwater. Personally I believe that the principle of "innocent unless proven guilty"** is more important than the very rare chance that the DBS soft information system will prevent anything.

    * The DBS system including the enhanced one with "soft information" would not have prevented his murders. It would have prevented him working as a caretaker in ANOTHER college but he came into contact with the girls through his partner.

    ** Why is it commonly "innocent until proven guilty" and not "innocent unless proven guilty"? The former seems to indicate some presumption that the accused will be proved guilty at some point...
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I have no figures to quote, but I could well believe the numbers are similar for teachers.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    OMG! Can you imagine going to your HT to say you can't be in school tomorrow because the police have told you to come in for an interview under caution!!!???

    "Oh, that's terrible! What's it about?"
    "Er, um, well, I don't really want to say."
    "Whatever do you mean? It's not about this foster-child of yours, is it?"
    "Er, er, um......."

    What happens during an investigation?
    Whenever there are concerns of a child protection nature, the fostering service has a duty to inform the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for the area in which the carer lives and/or the police.

    The LADO will convene a strategy meeting of all the relevant professionals and they will discuss the allegation and decide the next steps to take. This may involve an “interview under caution” carried out by the police, and a joint interview of the child or children by the police and local authority.

    Being interviewed by the police can be a distressing and frightening experience for anyone, especially as until this point they are usually unaware of the nature of the allegation held against them.

    Fosterline strongly advises carers to have legal representation at their interview under caution, in order to protect their interests. This is not an admission of guilt, but a sensible precaution which will ensure that you are able to answer any questions put to you clearly, calmly and with support.

    Once the investigation has been concluded, further strategy meetings will be held until an outcome has been agreed. You will then be informed of the outcome and advised on the recommendations of the investigation, together with any actions that have been agreed which you are entitled to have in writing.
  5. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Blazer major and his missus have become foster carers. We had to be interveiwed and undergo a DBS check. Apparently the fact we both already have a DBS doesn't count and the local Council insisit on having their own. I pointed out that the DBS didn't belong to them but to us! That confused the social worker. However it's their money so if they want to spend it then fine.
  6. housesparrow

    housesparrow New commenter

    My brother-in-law started fostering a couple of years ago and he has been one of the 1 in 6 mentioned who has had a false allegation made against him. A most unpleasant time for him and his wife, the child was immediately removed from the house, his phone and laptop confiscated by the police. It took 4 months for the police to complete their investigations and tell him that there was no case to answer. He won't be fostering again, the experience of the false allegation was not one he would wish to repeat.
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    We were foster carers and allegations were one of the things that convinced us to stop. We didn't have an allegation made against us but it was always at the back of my mind. A different situation which arose made me realise how inadequate was the investigation process and how social services and fostering agencies don't know the law and willfully ignore it where they do. I'd like to go back to fostering but I'd never put myself in that position again. You are incredibly vulnerable as a foster carer.

    In a different situation again we found the advice of Fostering Network to be thorough and accurate. They were so helpful. Our agency paid for our membership, which was pretty good considering it came back to bite them big time! The Coram Foundation is also excellent, but over-loaded. There are good social workers but there are plenty who are incompetent or dishonest. You have to be aware. Although we resigned last year we still have an ongoing complaint with our agency about data protection, which is now with the ICO as the agency were foolish enough not to take it seriously. The mixture of incompetence, unrealistic optimism and sometimes worse from everyone else involved makes fostering a risky undertaking. If an allegation were made against you there is no certainty that it would be investigated properly or that you would be treated fairly, and your options for challenging the potentially unsound outcome are limited. I would not be a foster carer if I did a job with children that could be affected by an allegation.
    pepper5 and afterdark like this.
  8. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    I am actually surprised the number is as low in 1 in 6!

    Professionally speaking, I would be very open with my HT or prospective HT that I am a foster carer. Given that most schools are the de-factor level 2/3 service for all looked after children (CSC tend to check out in practice the moment a child is placed, except to show up at PEP meetings and tell teachers how to suck eggs), they should be more than appreciative of the complexities.

    Would fully understand and approve of any individual, teacher or not, shying away from fostering because of this potential issue. It must be one of the major factors which affects the decision whether or not to foster.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Having read this, I seriously wonder why anyone would become a foster carer...will there be any foster carers left in 10 years?:confused:
    pepper5, ViolaClef and Jesmond12 like this.
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I've thought the same. The churn in fostering is huge. For every couple you see lauded in the paper who've fostered loads children of children, there will be forty or fifty others who have done it for a short time and then got out. They have all been expensively trained, gained valuable experience and then left.

    If the money spent desperately recruiting new foster carers to replace the leavers were instead invested in the existing foster carers and supporting them properly, then things could perhaps be better. But the amount of money needed to fund the service properly would be so huge that it is never going to happen.
  11. Daredevil111

    Daredevil111 New commenter

    No it won’t go on record

    Like saying you didn’t commit - crime. but will put a blot on record to Show you’ve been through an ordeal???

    You’ll be suspended from work if school finds out and then reinstated if cleared. A colleague of mine was in this boat last year.
  12. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    My very good friend and her husband are foster carers. They are both over 70 but do work as invigilators at a local school. They mostly foster boys - by preference but there have been many occasions of incompetence from social services/social workers. There have not (so far) been any allegations made against them. However they have had their car stolen by one recent lad. He waited til they were in bed and exited through a bathroom window having stolen the car spare key. He reversed out of the drive and demolished a neighbour's car, parked opposite and was missing in it for several days. My friends were not told about his previous record re this or for the knife hold up he had been involved with, or the physical assault on his parent.
    Previously she rang me to tell me there was someone I knew staying with them. When she told me who I told her to go privately to phone me back and I gave her chapter and verse on the fact that 2 years prior to then this child had been targeted by groomers and that life in a children's home had facilitated that. So I warned her to be vigilant etc and sure enough they were targeted by Eastern European men. They were given no information at all re this kid or the dangers involving them.
    All the time their relationship with their foster children is affected by the fact that so many social workers let the kids down.
    Having said that they have been so successful and they have made fantastic progress with many of them. They are often revisited by their "kids" and updated on how they are doing.
    pepper5 and Lalad like this.
  13. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    It could very well go on your enhanced DBS. Given that the accusation would have been that of a crime against a child they might very well decide to put it on. It's manifestly unfair but that is the climate we live in. People are very naive about DBS. Just because no charges are brought following an accusation of a crime does not mean that the accusation won't appear. DBS will tell you whether or not they're going to put it on. You have a right to appeal if they decide to. An innocent carer could have multiple false accusations made against them. Indeed, our foster daughter used to regularly threaten to 'get you done' if she didn't get her own way.
    pepper5 and ridleyrumpus like this.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Not a lot of encouragement, is there!?

  15. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    A teacher friend of mine went down the fostering route and during the vetting / application process she was told that if she bathed a young foster child the child must wear swimming trunks/ costume in the bath in case of allegations. It put her off and she withdrew her application. I would have done the same, what if an allegation is upheld? How terrifying must that be if you haven't done anything but then are found guilty? To me it's not worth the risk.
    pepper5 likes this.
  16. Lucy2711

    Lucy2711 Occasional commenter

    A friend of mine was really keen to do this - but in the end felt that she couldn't jeopardise her career in HE and as a counsellor. It was the counselling role that led to her interest in fostering, when she was dealing with so many troubled children. She had a lot to offer.
    Around the same time, I was an independent visitor for a children's home. I really felt that children would be better in families if there was any chance of a placement. And that's not to suggest that there was anything sinister happening in the children's home, as far as I could tell - just some poorly paid staff doing their best. It was just an institution and kids need a home.
    pepper5 likes this.
  17. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Those sorts of restrictions have thankfully largely disappeared now, but of course they have no bearing on allegations. If a child is prepared to lie then they will, whatever their carers have done to try and safeguard themselves. I don't know what the answer is. Even a child who's made multiple false allegations might have a genuine one one day. If nothing else, the investigation process should be massively improved. At present it can be basically untrained social workers acting as judge and jury and making up what they will do on the hoof. Terrifying. Especially when you've witnessed their less than sound judgement in other situations.
    pepper5 and hhhh like this.
  18. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    It often surprises me how many adverts there are for fostering, just like there are for teaching.

    Not. With. A. Bargepole.
  19. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    You could just replace "fostering" with "teaching" and "foster carers" with "teachers" and this would be equally true.
    pepper5 and nomad like this.
  20. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    You are wrong, badly wrong.

    Soft information that may be disclosed on an enhanced DBS is by definition information about non convictions.

    The soft information will not report that you did not commit a crime, that has not been proven. It will report that you were accused of something and no further action was taken. It is up to the reader of the information to take a decision based on that.

    Now put yourself in the shoes of a headteacher about to appoint with a choice of two one with something on the record and one without, would you appoint the latter? Would you even appoint if they were the only one? Imagine the **** storm you would be in if something did happen or even if the great unwashed found out?

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