Holidays to remember with my foster children

Posted on: 11 August 2017

As school children settle in to their long awaited summer holidays, and families across Devon count down the final days to their annual getaway, foster carer Katherine Page has planned a memorable summer for her three foster children, Anna, Louise and Alice (not their real names).

But just as it’s a challenge for parents to balance holidays, time out from the school term, and a work life, that challenge can be complicated further for foster families by the temporary nature of some foster placements.

Planning holidays for one thing, not knowing exactly whether changes to their fostered child’s circumstances might mean that they’re able to return to their natural parents, for example. And can you take a child who doesn’t share your surname out of the country? What about passports?

There are also the periods during the summer holidays when parents rely on other members of the family, grandparents say, to look after the children while they are at work. But what happens when that direct family support network isn’t there?

“It is a challenge, just as it is for parents everywhere at this time of year, but they’re not insurmountable,” says foster carer Katherine.

“I’ve been fostering for many years now, and have provided homes to a number of children in that time. You remember the sorts of holidays that you used to have as a child yourself and the memories you have of them, and you want the same opportunities for the children you’re looking after. Of course, it’s no different.

“Sure, there are things you need to work around, but you do, and you make it work. I’ve had some great family holidays with children in my care over the years. Great memories for all of us. And although they might no longer be living with me, they’re still part of my family.”

Katherine is an approved foster carer for children up to the age of 18. She fosters for Devon County Council’s Fostering Devon service, which is always looking for more people to become foster carers. The more foster carers, the better the opportunities to find suitable placements, and it requires the expertise of the Council’s fostering service to match the right family homes to the children in its care.

Foster carers receive practical and emotional support from Fostering Devon throughout the year, and the service arranges various activities around the county during school holidays, giving carers and families a chance to meet up if they want to.

“The service is very supportive,” says Katherine. “You do have to use your initiative during holiday times, when one child might have contact with their family and another doesn’t for example, but there are so many fun places to visit, especially here in Devon. You just need to be organised.”

“We’ve got many brilliant foster carers providing safe and nurturing environments to children and young people who have been placed, temporarily in many cases, in our care,” said Councillor James McInnes, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for children. “And we provide all kinds of support to assist our foster carers throughout the year, including school holiday times.

“Most of the young people in our care are in foster placements, and many of them are above the age of 10.

“While the number of children in our care is about average for a county of our size, we’re always wanting to increase the numbers of foster carers in our service.

“We’re especially keen to recruit more carers to our Devon Young People Accommodation Service for young people over the age of 16, but also to have more carers who are able to provide homes for siblings.”

To find out more about fostering with Devon County Council visit the Fostering Devon website, www.fosteringindevon.org.uk, or call them on 0345 155 1077.

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