Round up of 2017 and the influence of the union

2017 Was A Great Year

A round up of the years events, if 2017 was anything to go by 2018 is stacking up to be monumental. Watch this space for all the latest information.

Sarah Anderson

What a year!

The union has led the way in a profound new narrative in 2017 for foster care workers (a title introduced by us) has begun to change the industry and societies image of foster carer’s and has had a huge impact on the rights and treatment of FCWs.

So lets have a look at that….

1. SEPTEMBER 2016 – The inauguration of the IWGB FCW’s branch

2. Four weeks later the government, sensing they would need a response introduce the ‘Education select committee enquiry into fostering”

3. JANUARY 17th 2017
Sarah is Interviewed for the Guardian, a brand new narrative not seen in the press before…

“Anderson loves her job, but she says most foster care workers are underpaid and undervalued, and desperately need the help of the foster care workers union, which launched as a branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), in September 2016. “There are many thousands of us who are, frankly, being taken advantage of through low pay, slashed allowances, no job protection and the fear of false allegation,” she stresses”

“Anderson says having workers’ employment status would give foster carers more recognition from social services, the government and also the public. “I think many people have no idea what it’s like to do this job,” she says with a wry smile. “Not only are we in loco parentis, providing a stable, loving and home environment, we are highly skilled, highly trained workers. If you’ve trained and worked hard to be a professional, you need to be treated as one.”

4. FEBRUARY 1st 2017
The Education Committee holds its first public evidence session as part of its inquiry into fostering in England where it hears from foster carers.

Foster care workers again speak out, many for the first time, including Michael Fesemeyer, now the Assistant Secretary on the union exec committee and other great contributions from other FCW’s Brian Roberts, Gemma Ronte and Anne Sayer.

5. APRIL 21st 2017
Department of Education announce their fostering stocktake

“Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers have been appointed by the Secretary of State for Education to conduct a National fostering stocktake. As a first step, they are seeking views on the current state of foster care…”

6. MAY 17th 2016
Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the IWGB writes and article for the Guardian called “Foster carers desire working rights and decent pay. Why shouldn’t they?”

“Foster care workers do work that is set out for them in a written agreement, and they are highly supervised, yet they have no employment rights. And these rights couldn’t be more needed. In the past few months I have heard horror stories of foster care workers not being paid enough to cover basic essentials, of unfair “de-registrations”…..but perhaps most shockingly, in the past six years I have spent working with and representing low-paid workers in precarious employment, I have never come across a group more petrified of victimisation than foster care workers”

“The good news is that this is all starting to change. These workers are joining the union almost every day, we are challenging their employment status in a test case in Scotland, we’ve been gaining support from MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, confidence is growing, and fear is decreasing”

7. AUGUST 2nd 2017
Jimmy Johnstone wins his tribunal case against Glasgow City council, a case bought by the IWGB.

“Landmark ruling says husband and wife foster carers are council employees”

Jimmy and his wife are in a multi treatment team, so it just applies to this team, however the similarity between this and mainstream carers contractual obligations are strikingly similar.

“This is a massive victory for employment rights for foster care workers in the UK,” said IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee.

8. AUGUST 17th

Guardian asks for article in response to the Johnstone win from Sarah Anderson the Chair of the union:

“Even though it is just the first step of a long journey, my immediate reaction was one of huge relief and justice: finally someone recognised that I do a job”

“The children we take in have often had harrowing lives. We give them round-the-clock care under immense scrutiny – yet we have no workers’ rights”

“Foster carers have long faced a climate of fear and our lack of rights has been normalised. That is why we unionised….”

“The Johnstone’s case is a step towards greater justice. We don’t want the world for ourselves – we want that for our children – but we do want to be respected and recognised in law for what we are: workers”

9. AUGUST 25th 2017
Kevin Williams of the Fostering Network joins the new narrative and writes in a blog on tFN site that….

“It’s time to treat foster carers as the professionals that they are”

And goes onto state that “Foster carers are child care experts who operate as co-professionals in the team which is responsible for fostered children and young people. They are trained, supervised and accountable like other professionals and, in many cases, know the children they are looking after better than any other professional. Unfortunately, as our State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey of over 2,500 foster carers reinforced, foster carers are too often not treated as professionals meaning their expertise, opinions and knowledge are side-lined leading to frustration on the part of the foster carer and, very importantly, potentially poorer outcomes for the fostered young person. For the sake of the fostering system, the people who work within it and the children and young people who are being cared for by it, this must change”

10. OCTOBER 11th 2017
IWGB launch Sarah Anderson’s case against HCC…

“A foster carer is challenging a local authority about her employment status in a case that could have major implications for thousands of carers ….the foster carer, Sarah Anderson, has submitted an employment status and unpaid holiday claim against Hampshire council to an employment tribunal in a bid to gain worker rights for her role”

Supported by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), she argues that she should be considered a “limb b” worker and be entitled to rights

PRESS & MEDIA attention is huge, the IWGB press office inundated with enquires and requests for comment, Sarah appears on BBC Breakfast, BBC radio 4 Today Programme, Victoria Derbyshire, ITV News at one, Chanel 4 news, Chanel 5 news.

11. OCTOBER 17th 2017

Education Committee inquiry into Fostering resumes under new Chair Robert Halfon MP. Now the committee calls for better support for foster carers and more, challenging the system like never before.

12. NOVEMEBER 6th 2017
Martin Barrow, journalist writes, in a move away form his normal narrative..

“…the foster care workforce is shrinking, and the outlook is not good”

“…zero-hour contracts creates financial instability at home, which is not conducive to foster care”

“Foster care needs audacious 21st century thinking to address 21st century problems, or it faces a bleak future”

13. DECEMBER 22nd 2017
In what seemed like a race between the enquiry and the stocktake to publish, The Education select committee publish their report first two days before Christmas, the report is the most damning thing the fostering industry has ever seen, and amongst other things recommends that:

The government develops a national college for foster care workers, consulting with foster carers, something started by the IWGB in Sept 2016.

That FCW’s could be ‘workers by default’ according to the Work & pensions committees, and they recommended in light of the Work & Pensions and business, energy and industrial strategy committees, the government must state if we have the ‘appropriate employment status” Again an IWGB campaign, no other fostering body have before questioned the legal working status of FCWs.

They also acknowledged the abusive allegations process and recommended that:

“The Government should bring forward legislative proposals to extend the scope of the Public Interest Disclosure Act to cover foster carers, so that they are protected during proceedings or when raising concerns of their own, and safeguarded from the consequences of malicious or unfounded accusations”

WELL WHAT A YEAR! AND THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO COME IN 2018.