In an increasingly digital age, expectations of foster carers and social workers to embrace information and communication technologies in order to enhance communication and reduce digital division are also raised. This article reports on the introduction, in three English local authority fostering services, of a purpose-designed internet service, which aims to improve information flow to foster carers, enhance interaction and information exchange between foster carers and social workers, provide a social networking facility for communication between carers within a secure environment and create the potential for new relationships to emerge within a 'community of fostering practice'.The study explored modes and purposes of communication and the extent to which internet technology has been useful and empowering for foster carers, enhancing their professional status, or conversely has been constraining and excluding. Findings indicate that new forms of information technology and computer-mediated communication are familiar and acceptable to most carers. However more traditional forms of communication remain valued by foster carers and social workers, particularly for some types of communication for which the internet service is considered less appropriate. Whilst information and communication technologies provide an additional dimension to communication and information sharing, it is as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, existing modes. © 2012 The Author.
- communication technology
- community of practice
- professionalization of the foster care workforce