13th May 2019

Foster Care Fortnight 2019: Changing futures

Anne Longfield
Children’s Commissioner for England

When I ask children in care what has helped in their lives, they never say things like, “It was my Pathway Plan” or “It was the Children and Social Work Act 2017.” What they tell me is the name of a person.

It might be a social worker or a personal adviser. But for so many children, it’s a foster carer.

Foster carers change lives.

For some of them, the change is immediate. Foster care gives them a place of safety that makes them feel better straight away.

Other times the change might not happen right away. But the caring and supportive actions of foster carers will be felt for years to come.

As one teenager puts it, “My life was set to follow a bleak path with few positive outcomes or possibilities had it not been for two women who drastically changed my whole outlook on my self-worth and life in general. Nanny Liz (foster carer) and Nana Jane (support worker) quite possibly saved my life. Each woman taught me that to show your vulnerability and to grieve for what others have done to you is okay, it’s okay to cry and use your emotions constructively.”

Foster Care Fortnight 2019 gives us a chance to recognise the brilliant work many foster carers do.

But we shouldn’t forget how many foster carer’s lives are transformed for the better by the children they look after. Foster carers often tell me how privileged they feel to have such brave and extraordinary kids come into their lives.

That first night in a stranger’s house takes a lot of courage. But they won’t be strangers for long. The relationship between a foster carer and their foster child is unique and special. And it can change both of them for good.

For more stories and experiences of life in foster care, visit IMO (‘in my opinion’), a peer-led platform for children in care and care leavers.

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