In this blog the director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, Sara Lurie, explains just what it takes to be a foster carer.
I am delighted to say that during Foster Care Fortnight, thanks to the Big Lottery, we will host an event to celebrate the amazing contribution of Scotland's foster carers. Every local authority and every fostering service across Scotland has been invited to nominate a foster care family to celebrate with us. Our celebration will be joined by Mark McDonald, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, and Fiona Duncan, who has recently been appointed to chair the Scottish Government's Independent Root and Branch Review of the care system. And last, but not least, our group of amazing young champions, made up of young people living with their foster carers and young people whose mums and dads are foster carers, will showcase their recently produced film, Give Me A Chance.
As director for the Fostering Network in Scotland, I am often asked, ‘What do foster carers do?’ And last year, as part of Foster Care Fortnight, I sat down and reflected on my many years of meeting with foster carers, sitting in your homes, speaking to you and to your children and to your extended families and to the children and young people who have come to live with you. Your genuine search, in the interest of providing the best possible care, has taught me more than anything else. Reflecting on your many comments, thoughts and challenges, I wrote the following:
What do foster carers do?
You open your hearts and your homes to babies, to toddlers, to pre-schoolers, to children in primary school and secondary school, and to young people beginning to navigate their way through college and university, courses and job applications. You open your hearts and your homes to children who hope beyond hope that they will return to their own mum or dad. You open your heart and your homes to children who have no-one, with no plan in place of how long they will stay or where they will go. You open your hearts and your homes to children who arrive with five minutes' notice and others at the end of a long planned journey. You open your hearts and your homes, 24 hours a day, to children you haven’t even met. You provide that safe port in a stormy sea. Some children stay briefly and others forever. You can’t undo a child’s pain, but you strive to be part of the healing.
You see strengths and a positive future for each and every one of these children. You give without expecting anything in return. You share your time and give freely of yourself, to each child in your home, whether it be your own birth child or the one who has just come through your door. Your patience is your strength, and your sense of humour and positive thinking is your life line. You share laughter and hugs and fun and games. You give love even when some children can’t accept it. You record everything, from meals eaten to toys played with, from words spoken and behaviours displayed, to likes and fears and secrets told because you know, for confused children, you are the one to help them make sense of their lives. You see children grow and flourish and you know that small steps are a huge victory. You create opportunities for children and young people to hold their heads up high and be proud of who they are. You grieve each and every time a child or young person leaves your home.
As we celebrate Foster Care Fortnight, I want to personally thank all of Scotland’s foster carers for the incredible difference you and your children have made, and continue to make, to every child who enters your home. I want to also thank those children, who through no fault of their own, have come to live with you and enriched your lives in ways you probably never could have imagined. Together, Scotland is stronger and prouder because of you.