Wednesday, December 28, 2005

chrissie smacks

I received an email from the Foster Carers Association yesterday, with this article attached. I believe the Daily Telegraph is a Sydney paper (shows how unworldly I am – only discovered this yesterday thanks to the death of Kerry Packer), so the Department of Community Services (DOCS) there referred to is the NSW version of SA’s Department for Families and Communities.

Letters have apparently been written (just before Christmas, how thoughtful) to hundreds of foster carers to inform them that they’ve been investigated re smacking children in their care, and that the allegations against them ‘have been sustained’, by which they presumably mean that the department have satisfied themselves about the carers’ guilt.

It seems that the department has chosen not to detail how it arrived at this level of satisfaction. Many of the foster carers are said to be furious that the department has simply accepted the allegations of often troubled children.. The smacking of children by foster carers is illegal, but, interestingly, these letters assure the carers that they will not be removing children from their care (except in extreme cases). Instead ‘Foster carers are told in the letters that if they apply for child-related work in the future - such as nursing, teaching, childcare or foster care - the investigation into smacking will be taken into account.’

Results of the investigations are apparently being passed onto a body entitled ‘The Commission for Children and Young People’. These allegations have not, of course, been tested by a court of law, and it seems that foster carers have not been given an opportunity to answer the allegations. In any case, the standards applied to foster carers, who are often dealing with the most difficult and demanding kids, appear to be rather different from those applied to ordinary parents, often with large implications for their futures. But then, we can hardly expect any good deed to go unpunished.



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