GMB Union calls reform to allegations’ process which sees foster children ripped from their home and causes heartbreak for foster carers
GMB, the union for foster carers, has said at least 1 in 4 foster carers face the ‘nightmare’ of false allegation. The study – one of the widest ranging surveys of foster carers ever undertaken – shows 55% of foster carers have faced allegations, more than half of which are proven false.
The rest are unfounded and unsubstantiated with only a tiny percentage of allegations actually proven. 
Of the allegations made, 42% resulted in children being moved from the home.
Once shocking example, a foster child was taken from his home of two years due to unfounded allegations foster parents were trying to ‘poison’ the child. The foster parents never found out who made the allegations and never saw the child again.
GMB has released the figures as part of its ‘Allegations Campaign’ launch in Leeds today [Thursday, 18th April] - part of the Foster Carers Make It Happen event for Leeds City Council foster carers. 
The survey highlights the current process for dealing with complaints is far from adequate, leaving many foster carers in limbo for weeks on end.
The union says it goes without saying that allegations need to be taken seriously with the child’s best interest at the centre of any investigation. However, what is apparent is that often investigations are carried out without consideration of the impact to the foster carer, their family and other children in the home.
GMB has represented foster carers for a decade and this is the latest in a long line of campaigns to support them and to improve their worker status. 
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer for foster carers, said:
“It’s shocking that one in four foster carers face unfounded allegations against them - yet many receive no training or support to get them through the nightmare.
“Foster carers are isolated individuals, working in their homes, providing a vital role to the most vulnerable children in society, and yet due to their ‘self-employed’ status, they are often denied trade union representation and are forced to endure processes which are far from clear and transparent.
“The current system sees foster children unnecessarily ripped from their home and causes heartbreak for foster carers.
“The message from our members is loud and clear – reforms to the allegations’ procedures are very much needed in order to protect all involved in fostering.
“That’s why GMB will continue to campaign for improvements in the fostering system for all of our members, including reforms to the allegations processes.”
Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen and campaigner for improved foster carers’ rights, said:
“It is absolutely essential that children in foster care and those who care for them receive the best possible support.
“Foster carers do an incredibly important job, but sadly the Government is failing to develop a strategy for the wholesale improvement of the care system that delivers for all.
“And this failure is affecting the most vulnerable in our society and those who care for them.”
Contact: Rachel Harrison on 07539 061702 or GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
A recent GMB survey of foster carers identified that:
• 55% have had an allegation made against them.
• 70% know of other Foster Carers who have had allegations made against them.
• 90% always or sometimes worry about an allegation being made against them.
• 63% haven’t had any training on how to avoid allegations or how to manage them when they are made.
Out of the allegations made:
• 52% were unfounded.
• 42% resulted in children being removed from the home.
• 33% didn’t receive any financial support throughout the process.
• 5% are no longer Foster Carers.
 Other speakers at the launch include:
Jayne Senior - Rotherham child sexual exploitation whistle-blower
Neil Derrick - GMB Regional Secretary
Sarah Owen - GMB Political Officer
Rachel Harrison – GMB National Officer for foster carers.
 GMB Key Demands:
1. Trade Union Representation for all Foster Carers, including mediation where appropriate.
2. Standard training on allegations including how to avoid them, what to expect, what to do and how to access support.
3. Speedier, clear and transparent procedures with Foster Carers kept up to date throughout the whole process.
4. Treat with dignity and respect with full fees and allowances remaining in place throughout the whole process.
5. Where the allegations are proven unfounded – a formal written communication stating no case to answer with apology where necessary.