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Unfair Portrayals of Foster Care in the Media

Thursday 02 June 2016

One of the biggest problems the foster care system encounters is the misconception about how the system works. The media has played a large part in developing incorrect, negative views of how both foster children and foster care staff behave. Of course, the foster care sector isn’t the only one to be unfairly portrayed by the media, but the effects can be life changing for the UK’s most vulnerable children.

So just how has foster care been unfairly portrayed? Below we’ll look at how the media has contributed to the current view of the foster care system.


How EastEnders writers got it wrong

Perhaps one of the biggest unfair portrayals of foster care in the Media was when EastEnders introduced a fostering storyline. As featured by The Guardian, the soap decided to focus on a story where character “Jade” was placed into care. Within this storyline, viewers saw Jade’s birth family easily find Jade within the system. Once they’ve found her, they manage to bribe the foster carer she’s been placed with, to cut some of her hair so it can be sent off for a DNA sample.

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Now, being a soap you expect high levels of drama. So you might think what’s the harm? The problem is, as of 2015, there were an estimated 50,000 foster carers throughout the UK, looking after vulnerable children for very little money. None of these carers would have taken on the behaviour of the foster carer portrayed in the soap. There are millions of people who watch EastEnders and unfortunately many do not know much about the fostering system. So, they end up being influenced by what they see, giving the sector an unfair and untrue reputation.

The media gets away with all kinds of generalisations and stereotypes. People are influenced by what they see and read so it’s vital certain issues are raised in the correct manner. The foster care system has been unfairly portrayed on many occasions and it’s having a seriously negative impact on the number of people signing up to become carers.

Overall Pathway Care is dedicated to improving the lives of the UKs most vulnerable children. However, we do face an uphill battle when the system is portrayed in an unrealistic, sensationalised manner. We urge people to do their own research, chat to our team and carers and really discover how we and our sister agencies help to change the lives of thousands of children.

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