There has been plenty of discussion in the media recently on the subject of holidays being considerably cheaper if taken during school term time and the fines being levied against parents for taking their children out of school. There is another group of families that also find themselves affected and have even less sway to argue with anyone. This group is foster families.
Without any shadow of a doubt the education of children in the care system is vitally important. Many children in care have experienced levels of neglect or trauma that has affected their learning experience or capacity to learn. They may have received little help and support at home and may have little confidence in their ability to achieve or perhaps behavioural problems that affects their chance of learning effectively.
Whatever the individual circumstances, the years that they spend in care are a chance to at least reach a basic level of educational achievement and at best to excel to extraordinary levels. You will already have read negative comments in the media about how the care system fails children in their education. A misguided assertion in most cases I may add which does not take into account that children who enter the care system are often markedly behind at that point and always playing catch up. The care system does the best that it can but it is not a magic wand.
As a result of the educational background of most children in care, foster carers, who care for children on behalf of the local authority, are told that without doubt, their foster children cannot miss school. Of course there are some exceptions and we have seen these happen, but more recently when the government changes in legislation came through it became very clear that there was to be virtually no leeway.
Foster families, like any average family, are working within the same household financial constraints. Holiday prices outside of school term time are more often than not more than anyone would care to pay for or could simply afford. But most people would agree that holidays are wonderful things. They provide chances for learning, for laughing, for playing, for living and to build memories. Children coming into care seldom have many good memories and are more likely to have enjoyed limited positive life experiences. If the price of holidays outside of school term time will price many foster families out of going on holiday or at least out of considering the more grand experiences then maybe the system is discriminating against those children in care. Those children, that in all fairness probably deserve/ require / would greatly benefit from – the opportunity.
This blog is not a criticism of the government or a clear assertion of what is more important for a child but something to think about.
What do you think?