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Over the years, many fostering organisations have called individuals who look after children "Foster Carers" believing that this reflects the level of complexity and responsibility families take on when they look after children on behalf of the state. After all, foster carers are trained, assessed and supported to take on the challenge of trying to piece together some of our most vulnerable and emotionally broken children. Most “parents” will never have to do this.
Imagine though if you were a child who needed to come into the care system, sometimes for many years, and possibly for the rest of their childhood. Imagine that you have been hurt and abused and suffered loss and trauma. Would you rather have foster parents or foster carers?
The term foster parent reflects the moral and social responsibility of looking after another person’s child. Foster parents do ‘super-parenting.’ Not only do they make sure a child is fed and cared for; hold their hand when they are scared; nurse them when they are sick; comfort them when they are upset, but they also work professionally as part of a team of other experts to help children repair the hurt and loss they have experienced. Surely, the term Foster Parent reflects much better than Foster Carer the complexity and challenges of the work they do?
Children who are looked after want to be like their friends and peers. They already feel different in so many ways so let’s not add to this by making them have to live with “carers”. Their friends will have parents. They may be birth parents, step parents or adopted parents, but they are still parents. Let’s make foster parents a term that allows them to feel the same sense of belonging and love.
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