"I am a new foster carer and find your blog brilliant. Although I'm fairly new..., already had some great experiences but also felt the full force of bitching and back stabbing !!"
Brief and to the point.
I think I know what the anonymous carer might be concerned about.
New foster carers are braced for the challenges of taking a troubled child into our home, although nothing can prepare you for the actual realities of the job. We have to evaluate and work with an individual child who is totally unique. The professionals fill us in about common issues such as attachment disorders, meeting basic needs, and observing Safe Care plans. Quite right.
But fostering is about being alone in our private homes, managing huge minute-by-minute moments which we believe matter a lot.
You do get some great experiences, like she says.
So where's the "bitching" and "back stabbing"?
Maybe it's this...
The job of fostering raises your awareness, sharpens your perceptions of people.We foster carers become massively sensitive. Maybe, sometimes, too sensitive. It's happening with me all the time.
You show up at a support meeting and the Social Workers seem more friendly to other carers than you. You get it in your head that individual carers or little cliques of carers want you to join them and see the world their way, which usually means sharing negatives. And you better get with them. Else you might end up as one of their negatives.
There is an element of competitiveness that some people in fostering can't resist. It might make them better carers for it, it might not make them better colleagues.
You make a call to the office about something else, wondering if you should mention that you feel a bit vulnerable, but don't. Then you find yourself wondering if the office sits around after your call talking about you and what you are like.
You know you have a job to do; to care for a troubled child. It's tiring and difficult to tell how well you are doing.
And because you're nerves are raw, you start seeing little demons.
You show up at training and support meetings and think people notice that you are wearing the same outfit you wore last time.That the thing you just said was rubbish. You agonise about whether to say that things are going well or badly with your child. You try to work out whether the group want you to say you are doing well or struggling. Maybe you just say nothing; and worry that the group think you are ineffectual.
If the carer who posted the comment wishes to contact me personally to take their very real and important concerns further, without in any way compromising their identity, I'll talk to Blue Sky this morning about a discreet way of us going one-to-one *, whether you are a Blue Sky carer or not. I hope I can help.
In the meantime, whoever you are, thanks for sharing, And thanks for doing the best job in the world.
The Secret Foster Carer
* Blue Sky got on it straight away; you can drop me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org
ps, Whenever I'm looking over my shoulder for things that aren't there I'm reminded of something a colleague once said to me "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." It doesn't help much, but it's clever enough to make me smile.