looked after children
We learn new school runs and hitherto unknown neighbourhoods become focal points in our lives. Our weekends are punctuated by social events with families who were strangers to us until a few weeks ago.
But if cases like that of Keegan Downer and Daniel Pelka will teach us anything, it is that the general public are as responsible as so-called professionals when it comes to keeping children safe.
George Lyward always insisted, invariably after a longer than anticipated by the questioner pause, that Finchden Manor, the
Above all, be ambitious. Be as ambitious for children and young people in care as you would be for your own. Map the route from broken family home to high achievement in business, academia and the arts, and make recommendations that will bulldoze the road blocks along the way. Now that would be an inquiry worth waiting for.
Laughing while being pushed on the park swings, blowing out candles on a birthday cake and enjoying family holidays, are memories which make us look back and smile as we go through our adult lives.
I think that it is particularly difficult for foster carers to express their frustration over allowances because there is still a widely-held belief among the public that fostering and money should never be mentioned in the same breath. That we do it for the love of the children, and that is a reward in itself; and that foster carers should not be motivated by money.
The beginning of a new year is a time when ambitions and dreams are taken from under the bed, dusted off and thoughtfully considered. For a lot of us, it's a good time for soul searching and a great time for change, and in the world of fostering in 2017 there is a great deal of change that's needed.
We see the love and sense of pride in the faces of mums and dads, and make sure that our little'uns can see us in the audience, so they too can be reassured that there is someone who cares. We take photos, and collect the programmes, which will find their way into memory boxes and albums for when the day comes, as inevitably it will, for them to move on.
There is still time for the Government to reconsider the professional and financial ramifications, and even more importantly, the ramifications for the children and young people we care for, who need, and have always needed the secure emotional base provided by safe, stable, careful, committed and reflective professional care.
We became foster carers with no grand plan, unsure how long it would last. All these years later, we find that we are busier than ever with fostering, including our three current children who have been with us for just over a year.