The venue is booked, the guests have been invited. The eldest of our three foster children is preparing to celebrate her birthday. She is drawing up a list of presents that she would like, tentatively at first but gradually growing in confidence, with some encouragement. This is not something she has been able to do in the past, and it takes some getting used to.
Refugees have fled the wars of Syria and Afghanistan and lived by their wits as they dragged themselves across a continent, hoping to be reunited with relatives in countries like Britain and France. And as they smiled at the cameras for the journalists waiting outside the immigration office in Croydon, they would have little sense of the anger and hatred that would be directed at them here in the fifth richest country on Earth.
The reality is that our system of child protection relies overwhelmingly on volunteers. Foster carers provide homes for three out of every four children and young people in care. In return, they receive no salary but are compensated through allowances based on the number of children they care for and their special needs.
In an historic moment for the child fostering sector - and urged on by the Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP - foster care workers have voted to unionise and launch their own branch of the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain Union (IWGB). The decision was taken at a packed meeting of foster care workers at Parliament on Monday 19th September.
There will always be a need for new foster carers and we ought to look at that positively, every child and teenager is different, they deserve a truly broad and diverse range of carers to be matched with in order to give them the best chance of a good outcome in care and achieving success in their lives.
Moving from home to home can really affect a child's social skills, educational outcomes and employment prospects - impacting on their mental health and exacerbating any existing behavioural and emotional issues. We know first-hand the challenges these young people face, they have often experienced the worst in life, which means it can take several moves before they find the right foster carer to meet their specific needs.
As someone who was raised in a family that fostered, it's clear that fostering is not just a one-way street. I've seen foster children from my family go on to flourish and succeed, which is why my parents, and many other foster carers do it. According to the Fostering Network, every twenty minutes across the UK, a child comes into care in need of a foster family. This means that during Foster Care Fortnight alone over 1,000 children will require a foster family.
The Fostering Network estimates that 11,000 new fostering families are currently needed to ensure that children are able to benefit from the most appropriate placement for their increasingly complex needs. Foster Care Fortnight 2016 may inspire you to open your home to a child or young person in need of a loving family.
The fostering covenant is currently being broken, to coin a phrase David Cameron once used to describe our neglect of the military. Austerity measures are having a devastating effect on practical and financial support for foster carers, and on children's access to their social workers and other services, including mental health services.
At the school gates parents mellow and become curious about this child's new lease of life. So often, they admit they were aware of problems, but felt it was not their place to become involved. Sometimes, there are genuine concerns for their own safety. But mostly, I am sad to say, it is down to indifference.