Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 12 May 2016


Have you ever thought about fostering a child? Plymouth Council is undertaking a major push to find more foster carers to help look after the growing number of children who are being removed from their natural parents for one reason or another.

It is not easy to care for a child from such a turbulent background. Most if not all of them come with challenges that make them a handful, not least attachment issues. But in talking recently to parents who foster, there are many rewards for this investment of time and effort. To see a child start to trust again and respond positively to love and boundaries that he or she have probably never known is a wonderful thing.

You might have waved goodbye to your own kids and have experience and still some energy to offer. Perhaps your own children are of a certain age where they can help look after a younger child who can dovetail right into the rough and tumble of family life. I was talking to one mum recently whose three teenage children adore the young 5 year old who now lives with them. Or maybe you have never had children but have the skills and dedication to give a child a chance.

The financial support package is reasonable, although of course that in itself should never be the main motivation.

One advantage of fostering is that it is of necessity for a limited period, often moving the child onto the next season in their lives, perhaps long-term adoption. This means that the foster carer can have a break between children to recharge batteries. Sometimes just offering respite care for a troubled child for a weekend can make an enormous difference.

It is sad that with all of our technological advances, human nature seems to stay the same. How any adult can abuse a young child, most of us cannot fathom, but throughout history, there is little doubt that this has gone on. We are better now at spotting it and intervening. I salute our social workers – having to decide when to remove a child and when to support in situ. Hat's off to them.

But professionals cannot do this alone. They need us – an army of well-intentioned amateurs – prepared to get some training and deploy the love and experience built up over our lives. Why not think about it? What could be more important than giving a troubled child a life?

posted by Gary @ 09:16