I started writing this blog at the end of last week, looking out my kitchen window at the trees bending in the wind and wondering how things have changed so quickly from the sunniest day on record on the Wednesday! As I finish this blog reflecting on foster care fortnight on yet another sunny day, it strikes me that there’s an interesting parallel between this weather and fostering. The weather may be changeable but with the right kit you can still carry on.


The current climate has certainly brought its challenges but foster carers have risen to them. With care and compassion we have seen some children and young people thriving in this different environment. That they have done so is credit to the relationship-based care that foster carers across Scotland are providing, providing children and young people with some security and certainty in this period of uncertainty for all of us.


No-one could have foreseen the extent to which COVID-19 would impact on the world or on Scotland. We do know that this level of uncertainty can take its toll on our mental health, something that has been evident in the last few months. We have seen a remarkable response in our communities, with people seeking to bring comfort, kindness and forgiveness. Yet we know from the care-experienced children and young people that Staf engages with that this uncertainty is something they experience on a daily basis. I hope that as a society we remember how that felt, that we go forward with a deeper understanding of what sustained uncertainty feels like and respond with the same compassion and kindness that we have seen in this current crisis.


Before becoming CEO at Staf, Scotland’s membership organisation for all those supporting people in and leaving care, I spent 15 wonderful years working in fostering. I’ve had the good fortune to meet some amazing foster carers and heard first-hand about some of the challenges they face, as well as the life changing experience fostering brings. In many cases foster carers have told me they wish they had started fostering sooner!


A recurring theme in my conversations with carers over the years has been the importance of having the support and training to better understand the needs of the children and young people they care for. Now in my role as CEO of Staf I’m keen to extend our support for carers. Carers are more than welcome to take part on our learning events and you can find a wealth of information on the rights of Care Leavers on our website.


I’m aware of many great examples of carers providing love, support and care to the children and young people with whom they share their lives. Indeed, in response to COVID-19, we reached out to foster care providers and heard positive stories of carers organising fun activities for their children; having more time to develop attachment and nurture; and to develop the independence of their young people. The longer term impact of the isolation caused by this crisis is unclear but I do know that foster carers will continue to do their utmost to weather the storms that lie ahead for our young people.


In concluding, I want to extend my thanks to Scotland’s foster carers, from those new to fostering to those who have given a lifetime of love. Thank you for every skint knee you have cleaned up; for every monster you have ‘shooed’ away from under the bed; for every piece of homework you have supported, being one step ahead by Googling the subject the day (hour?) before; for every cuddle you have given after family of origin time has or hasn’t gone ahead; for every curfew that has been broken; for every change of plan you have supported; for every relationship you have navigated; for every voice you have empowered; for every transition you have supported; for every tear that has been shed; for every life you have enriched and been enriched by; and finally for every day that you care, thank you, what you do really does make a difference.