Alliance calls for greater respect for foster parents

ALLIANCE Spokesperson on Children, Marjorie Hawkins, has said that foster parents deserve greater respect from Social Services.

Mrs Hawkins was speaking after a foster parent revealed that a life-limited child that had died in her care was taken away without her being given the chance to properly say ‘goodbye’.

The woman interviewed on Radio Ulster’s ‘The Nolan Show’ this morning, Karen McCullough, had fostered the child, whose only sense was smell, from seven weeks old and cared for him for four years. When the child died, Social Services were unable to immediately track down the child’s natural parents, and asked Ms McCullough to make funeral arrangements.

The next day, after arrangements were made, social workers said the parents had now been contacted and Ms McCullough was told to hand the body over almost immediately. She was not allowed to place a soft toy with the body, was told to strip it before handing it over and had little time to spend with the child.

Ms Hawkins said: “While this may be policy for Social Services, there are better ways of handling sensitive situations like this. Social workers should show more humanity and respect for the feelings of foster parents, who have to deal with powerful feelings of loss.

“This woman was denied the opportunity to grieve properly. It was obviously a very difficult time for her and it was made even harder because of the callous way in which she was treated.

“Children are crying out for foster parents, yet these generous and kind people are being treated as though they are robots without feelings.”

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