‘Social care has been stripped to the bones’ says worker who went into care aged five around Christmas

10 November 2022, 19:11

Social worker who was in care system reveals 'horrendous' memories

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

This caller told Tom Swarbrick he went into care at around five or six years of age and was in 14 different homes from then until 18-years-old. He revealed the “horrendous” realities of foster care.

A social worker told Tom Swarbrick today that there are “horrendous” aspects to the foster care system, having gone through it himself as a child.

At the beginning of his show, Tom asked listeners to share their experiences of being in care in the light of the John Lewis Christmas advert, released today.

Dan in Hackney said he had been in 14 different homes between the ages of five and 18.
“14?”, Tom asked in disbelief.

“Yes…one of those believe it or not was for nine years, so that goes to show you how many I’ve had within a three or four year period of time”, he said.

“Social care has been stripped to the bones, as a result…carers have not had pay in line with inflation.”

Read more: John Lewis releases 'gorgeous' tear-jerking Christmas advert raising awareness of children in foster care

Dan explained that voluntary foster carers are paid about £250-300 per week per week which decreases in increments with more children.

He added that he “vividly” remembers going into care, sharing his “absolutely horrendous” experience.

Dan said he was “one of seven children, and the only child out of that group of seven children to be placed in a car on his own with no parent or caregiver or appropriate adult just the social worker driving that vehicle”.

“I will never allow that to happen when I’m overseeing children now”, he said with certainty in his voice.

Dan said that it was “absolutely debilitating” to know that the “vast majority” of carers would say they are doing this for financial reasons rather than “right and correct and proper reasons”, saying “breakdown rates are so astronomically high”.

“I’m very privileged and fortunate that I can see this from a number of different angles, firstly as a young person who was brought into care at the age of five or six years of age around Christmas time, secondly as a person who went through the care system up until the age of 18 and graduated as a social care worker at the age of 21.”

Read more: Children's social care 'crumbling' and 'not fit for purpose' warns foster carer

The social worker of 10 years said: “The advert, while it is lovely and kudos to John Lewis for doing so and bringing it to the fore, it doesn't give a particularly accurate description of how children do experience coming into care.”

Dan said the man learning to skateboard in the advert “had ample time to do so”, but that “99% of children who come into care do not come into care in a planned or organised fashion”.

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