Stop celebrating the numbers.

As a foster carer I love reading articles regarding fostering, those that celebrate both the wonderful people that open their homes and hearts to children in need but also, and maybe more so the amazing children that come into the lives of foster carers like myself. I adore reading about their strength and courage and their innate desire to change their story.

Still there is one thing that really frustrates me about some conversations regarding fostering and this the celebration around the numbers.

Let me explain, only a week ago I read an article about a foster carer who in her life had fostered over 5000 children and whilst the couple are pretty amazing my heart breaks that over 5000 children needed a home.

5000 children worlds were turned upside down, 5000 children were walking again into an unknown out of their control.

In England alone

  • 56,160 children were living with foster families on 31 March 2019.
  • This is 72 per cent of the 78,150 children in care looked after away from home (Department for Education, 2018).

This isn’t a number we should be celebrating.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I am so thankful and proud to work in foster care it’s one profession where I wish I was unemployed and not needed.

The other reason I struggle with numbers is that some foster carers will never have 5000 children through their doors, not because they don’t work as hard or aren’t as open, but because they foster long term. Take myself I have now fostered for over 10 years and only 4 children have come to me. This isn’t a failing on my behalf it’s because when they come to our family it’s with a plan for a long term stay and in the case of my now adopted son,forever. There are many different streams of foster care, from respite, emergency to short and long term, from a fostering perspective it’s not about the number of children we have but the lives we can impact upon.

Fostering is an incredible job and one I’m incredibly proud of doing but it is hard at times when the numbers are celebrated.

To me, those numbers are hearts, broken scared hearts that crave love and stability. They are vulnerable spirits craving somewhere to call home.

The only time will should be celebrating the numbers is when the number of children needing to be fostered is reduced and when the amount of families kept together and supported is rising. Then I promise I will be celebrating the loudest.

 

Is it pretend…?

My daughter was in her sociology class last week when the subject turned to fostering and adoption. She was sitting there listening to the views of others when one boys opinion really annoyed her, it seemed that to him fostering and adoption is “pretend parenting.”

Well I’m certainly not going to argue with the viewpoint of a 15 year old because as we all know at this age they are always right, but I would ask him to think about this.

Is it pretend when I walk the bedroom floor for hours soothing a teething baby?

Is it pretend as I wait patiently and worryingly outside the hospital theatre’s door?

Is it pretend when I hold them tight when they wake from nightmares?

Is it make believe the pride I have in all their achievements?

The worry I feel when they are sick?

The missing I feel when they are not with me?

Is it pretend when my heart fills with love for them?

I don’t really expect most 15 year old’s to understand but so many times I come across adults who just don’t get the love I feel for my fostered children. They see them as a means to an end or just part of my job. In fact the current government seems to view fostering as second class parenting but that’s for another post.

It just drives me mad that people view it this way, as it’s so far from the truth.

You see the moment I open my home up to child I also open my heart to them.

Slowly we both get to learn about each other.

I get to watch them as they come to understand that this is their home too.

I want them to know they are so loved, that they are so cherished and that they are so wanted.

I want them to put their stamp on their bedroom, knowing that it is their’s for as long as they want it.

To sleep without fear of moving on or not being safe.

I want them to know that they are now part of the tribe, that no matter what they do there is no giving up.

We fight for family in this home.

We fight for dreams to be realised.

There is no pretend is this family, just pure real true love.

A families love. 

 

 

Monday is the start of the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight. This years message is Time to Foster, Time to Care. They  want to spread the message that for many prospective foster carers NOW is the time to care and NOW is the time to foster. Please go take a look over on the Fostering network’s website and if you have ever considered fostering now is the time to do it.

There are so many children out there waiting for families to reach past pretend and to embrace them in real family love. 

 

Becoming a foster carer was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

It’s not always easy but it so worth it. 

fcf_clock_download

It’s nearly August (squeak)

I cannot believe we are so close to August. 

This summer month means so much to me. 

This month is filled with the friends I get to call my family. 

My Special Kids in the Uk family.

  

I am so excited to turn my virtual hugs into real ones.

To wrap my arms around those I haven’t seen since this time last year.

To see how people have changed, how the children have grown.

I’m so excited to meet our new families, to get to know how special and amazing each one are.

I am bubbling with joy to be hugging on the new additions, babies not even conceived this time last year but now very welcome members of our crazy tribe.

I cannot wait to congratulate those who have major achievements since we last met. New doctors, new nurses, new drivers , new walkers and new talkers and so many more. 

Each one so inspirational in their own way.

I could cry with the excitement I feel, these people are friends who walk alongside me in the world of disability. 

Those who battle each day, challenging decisions, fighting for support and so much more.

This camp makes my summer.

This field is our island for a week or so.

A place where no one looks at our children differently.

Where no one questions our parenting or blinks an eye at tantrums or melt downs.

Where laughter is the daily medicine that heals our hearts.

I want to laugh with men in dresses, give thanks for women with socket sets.

  
Where,we challenge the term normal in so many ways.

This year is a special camp, well even more special than usual. 

It’s the 10th Anniversary.

  
How incredible is that!

10 amazing friendship making camps.

Camps full of memories that are lasting lifetimes. 

Ugly bug balls, balloon releases and the best last night chats you will find anywhere.

I love this camp.

I have the fire pit ready just have to get the marshmallows.

See you in a few weeks xxx

Speak Up – A stitch in time

For the last 14  years I have been working with professionals within the social care field where there is a majority opinion that funding given in early support services would make savings later on and make a more dramatic difference to children’s lives.

Investment in the health of pregnant women leads to healthy children.

Support for young, inexperienced mother’s lead towards more educated, healthy happy children.

Guidance and support in youth services leads to less in the juvenile correction system and so on.

Yet for so long services seem to be funded in a catch up manner, fighting the fires when the fire is at full blaze.

So this is why I am getting behind a campaign being run by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, and NSPCC called “A Stitch in time”

stich_in_time_facebook_banner_1

 

We say it’s time for change.

Responsible government must invest in services and support that prevent problems before they start — to improve the lives of children and families and save money for taxpayers in the long run. That is why we are calling for all political parties to make a commitment to shift the emphasis of public services to early support.

We want the next Government to focus more on early support
 to help children, young people and their families.

1.

More stability into children and family
 services – five year spending plans

Making five year funding commitments — from one election to the next — would allow the Government, local councils, and other service providers to make longer-term plans. Most importantly, children could stick with the same support staff as they grow old.

2.

Help your local £ work – promote
 Community Budgets

Community Budgets allow providers of services to pool their budgets. This reduces waste and makes it easier to work together
 to help children. It’s a relatively new way of working, so the Government needs to support its development and promotion.

3.

Show us what’s
 happening – more accountability

With spending moved towards early support, we would like to see annual progress reports. Parliament should be involved in scrutiny through the Public Accounts Committee.

4.

Acting early to avoid crisis – shift public money towards early intervention

There is so much evidence that acting early avoids expensive crises that it only
makes sense to invest a bigger slice of our public money.

 

Our support services are struggling and many are reaching breaking point, people are not getting enough support,  getting support to late or simply getting none.

Investment is needed in early support and intervention and it is needed now.

A stitch in time is asking you to Take action Now. 

Visit the website and help protect children from crisis.

 

 

speak up

 

Together we can raise our voices louder.

So join me each week writing about what has touched you enough to speak out about.

Share news, campaigns, petitions and so much more.

As a community we can support and encourage one another.

After you have linked up visit at least one other blog of those who have linked up.

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. “

Haile Selassie

Lets do this ……..