‘The denial of employment status and basic rights eliminates any duty of care owed to us and our families’ writes Sandra Stuart For the first time in UK history, two foster care workers, Jimmy and Christine Johnstone, have won recognition as employees entitled to workers’ rights .
It’s important to understand that this isn’t just about what’s fair to foster care workers, it’s also about what best protects the young people in our care. Widespread privatization is undermining our entire social care system and foster care is no exception. It has been identified as a “growth market” because the number of children in need is soaring. Our work is publicly funded, yet increasingly that money ends up in the pockets of fostering agencies, some of which make enormous profits.
This is the agenda at work when we’re told that foster care isn’t a job and we are not employees. All anyone would need to see to know this isn’t the case, is one child’s first day back at school; their safe reconnection with their birth families; their first experience of family stability and love. As much as the difficult and dangerous days, these are the moments – unfolding in the homes we open to other peoples’ children – that make it clear that foster care work isn’t just a job: it’s one of the most important roles there is.