A key part of of The Fostering Network's role is to raise the profile of fostering and further the understanding of fostering among the wider society. Whenever we hear, therefore, of a TV programme introducing a fostering storyline we wait with baited breath to see how accurately fostering is represented. TV, and especially drama, offers an opportunity to bring fostering into millions of homes – but it also brings the possibility of undermining the amazing work that tens of thousands of foster families do every day.
We were therefore delighted when Doctors first approached us – over a year ago – to seek some advice for a fostering story they were working on. The researcher asked very detailed questions which gave us hope that there was every chance of the reality of fostering being well represented, albeit within the constraints of a daily TV drama.
Since that first enquiry from Doctors, there have been many others covering a wide range of fostering issues. It has been fascinating, from our perspective, to see how the storyline for a TV programme such as Doctors is put together; and it has been reassuring to know that Doctors are seeking to take the representation of fostering and social work seriously. There have been a few ‘you can’t really say that!’ moments and there are still the occasional ‘televisual shortcuts’ that cannot always be avoided, but the researchers have always been keen to find a way forward that is within the realms of possibility.
Raising the profile of fostering, as well as the knowledge that foster care transforms children lives (as well as the lives of their foster families) is what inspired us to establish Foster Care Fortnight almost two decades ago.
Foster Care Fortnight, which this year took place from 8-21 May, is The Fostering Network’s annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering, to highlight the commitment, passion and dedication that thousands of foster carers all across the UK demonstrate towards the children that they are looking after, and to call for more people to come forward to foster.
Every day there are 64,000 children being looked after by foster carers – they are being helped to flourish and many are experiencing their first positive experience of family life. Thousands of new foster families are needed each year, particularly to care for teenagers, sibling groups, disabled children and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
A version of this blog first appeared on the BBC website.