The enormous contribution made by the families of foster carers is being celebrated this October by The Fostering Network as the charity launches its annual Sons and Daughters campaign.
The children of foster carers are an integral part of any fostering household, sharing their home and their parents with children who can’t live with their birth or adoptive families. Every year, alongside The Fostering Network, fostering services across the UK run events and activities to recognise and reward children and young people for the important role they play welcoming fostered children in to their families.
Becoming a foster carer will have a huge impact on everyone living in your home, and everyone in your household needs to be committed to fostering. If you have birth or adopted children, make sure you discuss the idea to foster with them and involve them in the decision to apply.
Your whole family will be involved in the assessment process, and training is available for sons and daughters of foster carers. Many fostering services have their own support groups and provide sons and daughters with training and advice.
Bella is the daughter of foster carers and she has joined a group which, with the help of pedagogic social workers from the Head, Heart, Hands programme, organises events for fostered and birth children. Bella said: “My family have been fostering since I was 11. Currently, we have two brothers living with us that make us laugh a lot! I love meeting new people and having the house full of children. It is always lovely around Christmas if there are younger children in the house; it makes the day feel like a proper Christmas day.
“When we have difficult children, of course, that’s a struggle, but the hardest part is when you build a relationship with a child and then they need to leave your home for one reason or another.
“The experiences I’ve had from fostering have helped me to realise the direction that I wish to follow in the future. Fostering has developed my social understanding through experiences with children from cultures different to mine. I will never forget when we looked after an Iranian asylum seeker and he cooked us a delicious meal, with saffron-marinated chicken and steamed rice.”
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “Birth and adopted children living in fostering households have to show an extraordinary generosity of spirit, a maturity often beyond their years, and a kindness and understanding that many adults can struggle with at times. They can be the unsung heroes of a warm household that welcomes children, when they need security and stability most, and offers them a place to call home for however long it is needed. We respect them, and applaud them, for their contribution to making fostering what it is to each child who needs it.”
Another child of foster carers who has taken what they learnt growing up in a fostering household and has applied it to build and inform their future is Edward Timpson MP, children’s minister in England. He has written to all fostering households in England, and his message to the children of foster carers is: “I grew up as part of a large foster family, so I know only too well that fostering can be one of the most rewarding experiences life can bring, as well as having a life-changing impact on a child’s life. At any one time there are over 51,000 children in foster care in England, and each of them needs a fantastic foster family like yours. I’m thankful to each and every one of you for your help.”
Find out more about the Sons and Daughters campaign on our website, and if you think you have the skills to foster then visit couldyoufoster.org.uk to find out more and to contact your local fostering service.