Sunday, 18 July 2010

Entrusting the Care of your Child to Others

It might be just me, but I have always found it hard to leave my daughter in the care of a relative stranger for the first few times. The first time this came about was when she was still at primary school and we got a place on th Family Link scheme. Family Link is a brilliant idea, your child goes for a few hours or even a whole weekend to a family willing to look after them like they are their own child, giving you the parent a little respite. If you are interested, ask your social worker if you have one or get in touch with your local Social Services.

However, at the time I had a few problems with relaxing after handing my precious child over to people I knew very little about, especially on the overnight stay. A lot of emotions came into play - guilt for 'dumping' her so that I could have a break, worry over whether or not she would cope, anxiety over the credentials of this couple and whether or not they were fit to look after my daughter - silly I know, but that was how I felt. Thankfully it didn't last long - the people concerned were a lovely couple and my daughter thoroughly enjoyed each and every visit, and even though they haven't been her 'family' for many years now, we still keep in touch.

Even now I have the same feelings when leaving my daughter in the care of someone new. This week, for the first time ever, my worries were justified. My daughter has a care worker once a week to take her out wherever she wants to go for the morning while I am at work. So far over the past year this has worked wonderfully well and I have surpressed any initial anxieties as our regular care worker is a lovely lady and completely trustworthy. However, the past fortnight we have had a stand-in as she was away on holiday. We have had the stand-in lady before and it was fine, but this time for some reason she saw fit to just dump my daughter at the door of my work and leave without checking to see she had found me or even popping her head round the door to see if I was there. The first time I was a little put out but dismissed it thinking that maybe she was late for another appointment. The second time, I ran after her and had to stand in front of her car in order to speak to the woman - no sensible explanation when I asked her to please not leave my child on the doorstep like a sack of potatoes, just this woman accusing me of being rude, telling me we probably wouldn't see her again anyway and screeching off in a cloud of dust. As soon as I got home, I phoned the office to report this - in my opinion, if you are caring for a vulnerable person, you do your job properly, no half measures, because the possibility of something going wrong is high and chances should not be taken.

I am very glad that my own daughter is a very sensible young lady and usually able to cope with situations like this, but that is not the point - she should not have to be put in that position. This has been very upsetting to me - it makes me wonder what other corners were cut during her time with this woman, and I probably will never know as my daughter is unable to tell me. So while I am completely in favour of respite care, I think it pays to be ever vigilant about just who is taking care of your child.

N.B. Last week when we had our regular careworker back, she noticed in the paperwork folder that the stand-in had not filled in the financial form necessary to be completed each week - I give my daughter an amount of money to cover the costs of the day's activity. The previous week, my daughter had wanted to go bowling. We did, however, find the receipt from the bowling alley and discovered that the stand-in careworker had only purchased single games for my the poor girl had stood there and bowled all by herself while this woman sat and watched......nice, that must have been great fun for my daughter. Needless to say, I refuse to let that woman ever 'care' for my child again!

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