Sara Lurie, director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, reflects on the challenges that the coronavirus has posed to fostering, and how foster families and the children and young people in their care have risen to those challenges.
One of our young advocates recently wrote, “Foster carers are the unsung heroes of this pandemic” and I could not agree more! Our lives have been spun into unprecedented, scary and surreal times. Across the globe, families are finding ways to try and manage lockdown ~ home-schooling, unable to visit with family and friends, worrying about loved ones, and missing everyday activities that many of us previously took for granted.
Here in Scotland, I have been touched by the countless messages that you, as foster carers, have sent to me. Along with your own fears about COVID19 and the challenges you are facing, you have shared how you have risen to this challenge, creating ways to ensure your homes continue to be filled with love and laughter, warmth and care, entertainment and fun and most importantly, hope. You have told me how you are helping children to connect with people who they love and miss, how you are supporting one another, sharing fears about the world just now, while allowing children to pursue their dreams and be proud of who they are.
You have also shared with me, as well as with Fosterline Scotland, your questions and concerns relating to fostering at this time. I want to assure you that we are listening and are in continuous dialogue with the Scottish Government , COSLA and other organisations, reflecting the concerns you have raised.
At no point, in any of your foster carer preparation groups, were any of you asked “So tell me, if you became a foster carer, how would you respond to being told that due to a global pandemic, you would have to stay at home in lockdown for weeks on end?” It sounds like the plot of a movie.
Yet, I am genuinely amazed with the way you, as foster carers, your families and the children who have come to live with you, have embraced this challenge and I have no doubt your unwavering commitment will continue for weeks and months and years to come.
Every foster family and every child or young person in foster care is, in my eyes, a hero. Too often what you do goes unnoticed, but this Foster Care Fortnight I hope you know how vital you are and how transformational what you do is. Thank you, and I look forward to clapping for you all – along with all the other heroes we’re clapping for – on Thursday night.
With the warmest of wishes
PS If you haven't yet seen it, the Scottish Government's Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, has written to all foster families as part of Foster Care FortnightTM. You can read her letter here.