AT THE City Council recently we debated a proposal to grant collective bargaining rights to foster and kinship carers.

In the event, both SNP and Labour combined to make clear that, in our view, carers are not employees and that, as a result, we should work to find other ways to ensure they can be represented and properly recompensed for their efforts.

My purpose in this column is not to go into the detail of why that proposal was put forward or indeed why it was rejected but rather to highlight the often unsung efforts that our carers make for many young people.

We might begin by reminding ourselves why we place young people in foster care.

The ‘state’ could just as easily place them in children’s homes, as does happen.

Our system of care for young people is, after all, a dual one, with many young people in local authority homes that are staffed by local authority workers who do an excellent job in providing that care.

Why not just operate this model for every child?

The reason can be summed up in one word – family.

I’m sure we all know deep down that the essence of foster care is to place young people in a family setting, so their lives and upbringing can be as close as possible to the loving family environment that we hope they will cherish and will best serve them as they grow.

And what is that family setting? It is about adults who take on the role of parents, about other family members who accept a new brother or sister into their lives.

It is about never clocking on or clocking off, be that in the middle of the day when there’s a call from the school because a youngster isn’t well or the middle of the night when that same youngster has woken from a nightmare.

If that sounds quite emotional, I’m unashamed about it because those young people are as deserving of love and emotional support as any others – and that is the essence of the family setting they enter into.

Young people tell us that, where they feel loved and valued and cared for as part of a family, this is what makes the difference in their lives.

You may know a family that act as foster carers. If you do, you’ll know how committed they are to making the lives of young people better.

It is possibly even more likely that you know kinship carers, where the wider family – grandparents or other relatives – have stepped forward to support younger members of their own family in time of crisis.

This may have been unrecognised in the past but, thankfully, we now acknowledge the commitment of that wider family and make sure they are financially helped along the way.

So let us both acknowledge and celebrate the work of the carers in our midst.

Without them, many young people would be emotionally poorer.