When foster carers agree to care for another parent’s child or children you never know quite what to expect. Some foster kids fit comfortably into life in their new home. Others resist and cause conflict. Even foster carers who do their best may find a child refuses to eat or bathe. Yes, foster children can be a handful, particularly teenage foster children.
But under what circumstances should foster carers be charged with neglect?
Foster Carers Neglecting Children
Despite repeated complaints made to the Department of Family and Community Services over several years, a couple of former foster carers still have two teenage foster children in their care.
How can this be, when medical professionals and members of the community where the couple and their foster children live, have expressed serious concerns about the couple and their suitability as foster carers? Even the State (NSW) Ombudsman has formerly raised concerns.
Two teenage girls are currently in the home where they should be receiving appropriate care.
Yet four other children previously in the care of these foster carers have already been the focus of an investigation into the couple’s questionable behaviour. And the NSW Ombudsman was concerned enough to say these two foster carers should not be trusted.
Investigation into Reports of Neglect
- the foster children had been exposed to ‘adult products’ and adult-rated videos
- at least one (male) foster child was locked in his room overnight
- medical professionals treating the children had been ‘misled’ by the couple
- one foster child was medically assessed to show serious health deterioration after 5 months in their home. (Malnourished and ’emitting a foul odour.’)
As part of the investigation, a formal Risk Assessment recommended their carer’s authorisation be cancelled! The report recommended removal of children from these foster carers’ care.
So why are they currently fostering children? How can vulnerable children be put with these offending foster carers again?
Did the State Ombudsman not specifically state the couple were never to be entrusted with foster children again?
Should Foster Carers Be Charged With Neglect?
The NSW Government is trying to establish how the offending foster carers were able to pass through screening and have more children placed in their care. There is significant outcry from the wider community about tightening the system.
But what concerns me most, is why weren’t those foster carers charged with neglect? The investigation and recommendations after the report were surely deserving of charges being laid.
I don’t believe for one moment that a neglected teenage foster child (who was medically assessed to show no signs of malnourishment before she was placed in their home) was responsible for her own deterioration. I can’t see who else to blame but the foster carers for her being malnourished and ’emitting’ some kind of ‘foul odour’ just five months later. This child was neglected.
As a former foster mother, I know there’s many options available to foster carers concerned about a child’s choices and actions. If they were unable to encourage the girl to eat, bathe and take care of herself, they should have asked for help from the authorities who supervise foster care.
It strikes me as ‘criminal’ if any foster carers expect to be rewarded or financially compensated for neglecting children or exposing them to harm.
Neglected children are removed from their birth homes and placed into foster care with carers who enter into a contract to provide, at the very least, appropriate services. What a tragedy for foster children if their new home is no better than the environment they were removed from!
Am I the only one who thinks the offending foster carers should be charged?