Why I Would Never Be A Foster Parent

Image result for being a foster parent

We have all been shocked by the murder of 12-year-old Queensland Schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer, by her foster father.

Predictably and rightly, there have been many calls for a review into the Foster Care system in Queensland, and possibly across the nation. Totally support this.

Apparently little Tiahleigh had asked for help from the “system” and had said she didn’t want to return to her Foster family….But these comments were sadly dismissed as lies.

So a review is in order.

But I hope the review is far more reaching than I suspect it will be. I would like a review into the way the entire system operates.

I regularly pass billboard ads asking for more foster carers and there is clearly a need. Which I suspect as social ills like the ice epidemic continue to grow, the need for foster parents will only increase.

The need for children to be placed into a safe family setting for short, medium or longer term when they have been in an unsafe environment is of utmost importance for the health of the child. And for this reason I support Foster Parenting.

But let me say something controversial.

I would never be a foster parent.

Why you ask? Well I have seen the way the “system” treats foster parents. As the Senior Pastor of Nowra City Church for 15 years, I witnessed firsthand multiple family’s insane frustration with the organisations they fostered through. Here are a couple of observations:

  • Each Foster Care provider organisation seems to assumes that the Foster Family are complete idiots who have no idea how to raise and care for children….even though every family had multiple children themselves. I so could share specific stories here but for the sake of protecting the people involved I will be general.
  • Each Foster Care provider organisation seemed to be completely insensitive to the emotional ties that a child would develop for their foster family and instead capitulated to the Policies and Procedures manual, seemingly even to the detriment of the child. My conclusion is that robots run these organisations and worship the Policies and Procedures manuals as if they are Holy Text. Reality is that looking after kids never works according to a manual…..Sometimes these case managers need to use their brains and their emotional intelligence. May I suggest these organisations should be run by people who have raised children themselves…not 20 something Child Psychology graduates whose biggest exposure to a child is walking past one at the local McDonalds.
  • Each Foster Care provider organisation seemingly specialized in making life hard for the foster family. I can’t begin to tell you the number of couples I have had in my office in tears from the way they are being treated by their Foster organisation.

There are more points….but I think I have made my point. Foster Carers in the main are awesome. Foster Carers provide a much needed service to our children in need. But the Foster Carer Organisations and the system they run under needs a serious serious review.

I understand that this is a negative blog and may actually cause people who are thinking of becoming foster carers to rethink their decision. But I am also aware that people who are currently fostering are often too afraid to say anything for fear of losing the children they foster. So I am saying it and calling for a far reaching review of the Foster Care System.

Anyway, that’s what I think.

Ps Peter Pilt

Categories: Australian, Current Affairs

Tags: , , , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Not negative when you tell the truth, and if telling the truth means that the system gets an overhaul, and positive changes occur, that are in the child and carers best interest, THEN RANT ON….. Yes I am a Current foster carer….often tired, love the breakthroughs we seen in the children we care for, and the awesome opportunity to bring them to Christ…but it is not easy work, and as pointed out, the pitfalls and hurdles are to be believed…..

  2. You are my brother, well articulated.

  3. Too true Peter. My cousin worked for Docs for 2 years. That is 12 months longer than she wanted too. She was heartbroken about all the kids she wanted to help but couldn’t because of their “holy” manuals. So many times she was forced to remove children from where she knew they needed to be, and other times was NOT allowed to remove them from where they were not safe. She and her husband are now fost we carers themselves and are facing the same frustrations.

  4. Having fostered over 40 children over the years I can verify every point. Plus fostering is a systemic form of abuse of the children it seeks to help.

  5. Hello PeterReally appreciated this blog. The points you raise are precisely why my wife and I have been reluctant to take up the role in Australia. We did foster in NZ before we came to Australia and thankfully we worked through a very good Christian organisation and found it so fulfilling.  Blessings Wayne Botting  Get Outlook for iOS

  6. Well spoken Peter. We have been foster parents – and as a pastor had to stand with foster parents who had their reputations shattered by these young know it all psychology graduates. The system is closed. There is no accountability and no recourse for agrieved families. No one from without can penetrate it. The guilty remain protected by the system

  7. Thank you Peter for your honest appraisal of the Foster Care System. You are SPOT on with your critique. My husband and I have fostered 25 children (some short term, others for years) and we are forever butting heads with our NGO. We have some horror stories too and most of our fellow Foster Carers do with even some marriages breaking down because of the stress. The whole system needs an overhaul, but we feel it’s in the too hard basket.

  8. Peter, in the USA there is an amazing alliance of Christians and churches and organisations for the support of orphans and children in care called CAFO (Christian alliance for orphans). They have amazing initiatives both domestically and abroad to support the system and families in all areas of prevention and intervention. They advocate for best practice in the areas of family preservation, reunification, adoption, foster care, group home care etc They also encourage and support the church to be affective in this area. They have a small chapter in Australia – it needs to grow. Christians need to step up inthis area in Australia! What are we (the church) going to do about this big problem?

  9. Im a kinship carer .. ive am experiencing how deciving some of the case workes and case managers are and the lies they go through to remove kids .. i totally agree that these people should have experience in being parents them selves and to have motherly instinct to even comprehand the emotional side and deverstation it causes to family’s it takes more then so called policy n manuals on how to raise n look after kids .. why do they ho frm home to home .. these organizations never take conciderat the childs opinion at all.these kids are the victims whether or not they are placed with good foster carers or kinship carers or bad ones .. not all parents are bad. If every one is to be judged on there policy n procedures we would be all guilty as ..

  10. I’m just so shocked that this is a public statement from a Pastor! Nonetheless, one who has never, and declares will never foster children. If only you had the same strength of resolve in an assassination against the worlds #1 organization for hurting people, tearing apart marriages, and abusing children… and they happen to profess they worship THE book of policies and procedures.
    Oh! But what would I know? I’m just a child who was abused and had it covered up by my Pastor, then had my marriage fall apart because Pastor said it was reasonable for husbands to be addicted to porn, and oh yeah, I’ve held many many MANY children and families who were maimed by Churches when I was a Chaplain.
    At I still a Christian? Ya damn straight I am! God never hurt me. His grace is ever sufficient. I just happen to believe His word “Judge lest you be judged”… I think before you cast stones at the often very caring Uni graduates who are led and inspired by parents every day… and the FCA’s that have staff willing to accept minimum wages to protect children and monitor foster care placements, you’ll fix the walls of your own glass church first huh?
    That’s from me to you friend. It was free, on your blog, with no claim to fame or position… 😉

    • Thanks for your comment Leisa.

      First up. I am so sorry to hear of your experience. That is so desperately sad. However just because I have not been a foster parent in the NSW system doesn’t mean I haven’t been a foster parent.

      Currently A single mum and her new born daughter live in my house. So be careful throwing around accusations. I I know more about what I am saying in this blog than what you may think.

      • Hold on a minute Peter, you’re damning a ‘system’ not informal care situations. I would encourage you to be careful not to speak out on a topic you have no firsthand experience of. As a Pastor, I’d be very surprised if you hadn’t heard the horror stories of people’s experiences with the ‘Church’. The ‘system’ cops a beating. Many young pastors have given incredibly poor advice; lacking skills and life experience. Many old pastors have been charged with sexual abuse. Does that mean we condemn the ‘Church’? Sadly Mr Pilt, where there are people there are flaws. Instead of using the very public news to inflict negative opinion against a system that is actually doing a remarkable job in many cases, it may be better to offer more support to the families you claim to worry so vigorously over. Foster Carers are all too often without very necessary support networks. The government agencies and NFP’s can’t be expected to be imnipresent or able to heal, or they would be God. We are all fallen short, and all responsible for the terrible things that happen in this world.
        I’m simply trying to encourage you to be cautious with your words. As I’m sure you’ve preached: “There’s life and death in the tongue”. Carers don’t need fundamentalists running their mouths fueling the already burning hot media frenzy. They need support, encouragement, a shoulder when they are stressed. That’s great you’re doing something informal – let this very public proclamation be your reward sir 🙂

  11. Have you actually read of the comments on this blog or on my FB page…..Comments of great distress. You seem to be highly opinionated and judgemental on me as a Pastor……putting that aside…Read the comments, engage with the people and then come back and talk to me…..maybe with a little more humility than what I am seeing at the moment.

    • Definitely read your comments. Was hoping you’d deduce some insight from the parallel between the two organizational structures and the fact that they both deal with ‘people’. I was perhaps aiming too high. It was your public blog I replied to :-). But I should have expected the defensive rebuttal that ensued… never mind… Some things never change.
      I’m very glad the foster care system has, and will continue to. Robust conversations based on facts will move us forward. Good evening.

      • Hey Leisa,

        Thanks for your derogatory and patronising comments toward me. I find people who don’t actually have an argument resort to personal attacks which unsurprisingly you have done….Notice I have not devalued you at all as a person….unlike you toward me.

        There are many angles you could take and or even answer based on not only what i have said but what has been posted from first person stories, but instead you haven’t addressed any of them.

        I put my opinion forward with evidence. You disagreed with me and thats ok….Now put forward your evidence as I would hate to think you are just a loud opinionated person without back up.

        Perhaps I am aiming “too high” to quote your patronising belittling and insulting statement…..Which for the record really makes a strong comment on where you are coming from…..

      • Peter,
        1. My comments were never meant to be patronizing. They were made in response to your shockingly targeted attack at the people who work for DOCs and Foster Care Agencies (much less those with degrees but having not patented).
        2. My comments weren’t made to serve merely to patronize you, and to be ‘personal’, I don’t know you nor do I care to. Your blog post made its way to my facebook feed and I read the article quite mortified. My comment to my husband was, “vulnerable people may read this rubbish and it’s writing like this that does damage”. My comments were in fact for the hurting workers, Carers, but most of all THE CHILDREN… because believe it or not, foster care is for them! Please don’t flatter yourself to assume I would waste my time if it were simply about winning an argument. That’s certainly not my heart. In fact, I’m very uncomfortable with the idea that you are encouraging it to continue.
        3. Perhaps you need some lessons on written communication? You claim to not have thrown any personal attacks at me and yet your tone was strong, defensive and rude. After I shared my personal history you called it ‘desperately sad’. How demeaning? Desperately? Really? It was a travesty! God is greater! You also stated I lacked humility. Wrong sir! I’m incredibly humbled. By both Carers and workers. By all humans who try hard every day to do better in this world. But it wasn’t my wish to portray my character over an online blog, it was to provoke a robust conversation that was BALANCED and FAIR… You also called me judgmental. I would ask you to cease from the personal attacks if you would, it’s just not becoming.
        4. I don’t need to provide you with evidence. Just as you didn’t provide evidence. That would be a GROSS breach of privacy and as a Pastor I’m sure you’re cued in to privacy laws? That’s not a ‘personal’ attack sir. Your blog states you’re a Pastor. That’s public knowledge and as a public figure you should be called to account on what you publish. Don’t you agree?
        5. You quoted ‘media reports’ as facts. That can be dangerous. Nobody knows the facts about that particular case, and please let’s remember people are fallible! Just as you are, just as I am. We don’t have it all together. Look at us disagreeing on a blog!
        6. Here is my very clear and passionate view (very much based on evidence): the system (CP) is no more flawed than any system. It is in place to serve the protection of vulnerable children who have been deemed to be at risk of or exposed to significant harm. There is nothing more beautiful and generous than a family willing to volunteer and comply with a system in order to provide a safe home for those children. However, in balance: children have a right to their biological families, people are responsible for monitoring placements (to maintain safety), the system is overburdened. No doubt things need to progress and thank goodness this good will come as funding often gets cut. How tragic it takes a death for the government to funnel funding. Don’t think the workers within the system aren’t giving their all. Just be careful with your judgements. People are watching and perspective is EVERYTHING. If you haven’t walked a mile you know?
        7. I’m not going around this mountain with you again. It’s fruitless. It’s unwise. You go on representing yourself via written word however you wish to. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, the children, the people… but we won’t carry on with arguments. So goodnight and good luck with future blogging!

  12. Peter and others, I am a foster carer and, yes, while I agree with some of what you say I need to say that I have encountered some amazing people within the organization I foster through , and children have taken precedence over policy on occasions both with this organization and with FACS in the past. Just saying!

    Sent from Samsung tablet.

  13. Having witnessed first hand the pressures and stresses foster parents and their children endure I can only agree with you Pastor
    From my 21 years in ministry I could write a book on the horrible experiences of those the ” system” is ment to help
    The ” sweet experience” of fostering were seldom evident and way too often the suffering and frustration was felt by the carers and the children
    YES The system needs to be overhauled from head to toe

  14. I agree with you 100%! Being a foster parent is begging for trouble!

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