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Schools out – but what happens in September?

Whilst school holidays can represent freedom and fun filled days for some families, for others they can be poignant times associated with the end of an era! Families with older teenagers may be facing the prospect of a teary goodbye as they wave their children off to university or college come September and October.

After 18 plus years of nurturing, guiding and supporting them on the journey to adulthood, some parents may relish their new found freedom, but for others it is can be a more depressing prospect. The realisation that it is “job done” can leave a very real physical and emotional void in their lives. It marks the end of a busy time when they were needed and fulfilled and this void is often one that that is difficult to fill.

Although many of these parents are relatively young, and are certainly still young at heart, they may not recognise that the caring and life coaching skills they developed raising their own family can be put to good use, both for their own fulfilment and for the benefit of others.

Judith Rees, Managing Director of Family Fostering Partners commented, “It is often about this time of year that people wonder how they are going to fill this void in their lives. Some, finding themselves with prospect of having a spare bedroom - one vacated by their own child, start to think about becoming a foster carer so that they can use their valuable caring skills to help transform the life of a vulnerable local child. Not every child will have enjoyed the love and laughter that a stable family environment provides, and in Wales there are regrettably many children who still need a caring foster home. The biggest challenge we face is a lack of people putting themselves forward to become foster carers.”

There may be a number of reasons for this paucity of carers. Many may believe they cannot afford to become foster parents, not realising that they will be eligible for a generous fostering allowance. For others, a lack the self-confidence to tackle something new may hold them back, again not realising that they will be trained and supported all along the way. We find that ordinary people are capable of achieving extraordinary things and are able to really transform the lives of children and young people.
People either forget or don’t realise that fostering families have to come in a range of shapes and sizes to reflect our changing society. If people can demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and aptitude, foster carers can be single, married, co-habiting, straight or gay.

Children in the care system need loving and stable foster homes to help them grow, thrive and be prepared for adulthood. If people have been able to do this for their own family, then they should consider whether they could provide the same opportunities for a looked after child who, for no fault of their own, may not have had the best start in life. Fostering may help those parents who see themselves facing a daunting void in September, whilst at the same time getting access to new skills and being introduced to a whole new world of support and friendship.

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