This weekend is Mothers' Day, and one Manchester mother knows better than most how important a loving family life is for children and young people.
Julie aged 46, from Didsbury, lives with husband Steve 49, and their son, Jacob.
She has been a foster carer and 'mum' to other people's children for 20 years now and says that fostering is a real family affair.
Even their eight year old son Jacob gets involved and is very clear that its as much his job as that of his mum and dad.
'I do fostering too' says Jacob, who regularly gets praised by his schoolteachers for his remarkable empathy with other pupils both younger and older than him.
Twenty years ago Julie was working as a teaching assistant at a special school when at a meeting for one of her pupils, she was struck by just how hard it can be for parents of children with disabilities to cope with both the 24/7 needs of their child, and those of the rest of their family.
She said: "I realised that I left school every day reasonably pleased with myself at having done a good job, then went home and forgot about work until the next day. But for parents who have a child with disabilities they are never off duty - they are needed 24 hours a day. I quite literally decided then and there that I wanted to do something to help."
Even though she was only in her twenties and lived on her own she felt she had the skills and experience to make a difference, so set about getting approved to become a short break foster carer.
She said: "You're really helping their family as much as the child who comes to stay with you. You build a weekend of activities for the child around their interests, whilst their family gets the chance to relax and do things with their other children. Although I have to say the vast majority of families aren't desperate to go out and live it up when their child comes to you, mostly all they really want to do is to be able to have a quiet night in watching TV without having to be on constant alert for their child."
After ten years of fostering on her own she met husband Steve, an HGV driver.
When she met him she told him about her fostering and said: "This is me, this is what I do - if you don't want to get involved then I'm sorry but you're not the person for me."
Steve didn't hesitate. Although initially concerned that he didn't have experience of working with children, he went through his training and registration so they could continue fostering together.
After their son Jacob came along, Julie and Steve talked about whether they should carry on fostering now that they had their own child.
Julie says: "We decided we had to carry on fostering because we get so much from it and we thought it would also be great for our son too. And it really has been. He has so much empathy with the children who come into our home. He is an only child and so he really revels in having someone else around to play with."
Five years ago Julie and Steve also became registered as short term foster carers - looking after children for anything from a few days to a couple of years.
Julie says the whole experience has been amazing: "You get this child who comes to you with lots of issues, you work with them, build up their confidence, and when they leave they are a completely different person. That is so rewarding."
She added: "We don't do anything special - it's just us, our family, in our house. But this is something that lots of children have never had. If you can take another child into your home and make them part of your family, even for a short time, then you will be giving them something really important and special that will really help change their lives."
Councillor Afzal Khan, Executive Member for Children's Services, Manchester City Council, said: "We want to hear from anyone who can provide a loving family home for the children and young people who come into our care and who thinks they could make a positive difference to a child at the time when they really need it most."
For more information visit fosterformanchester.com or telephone: 0800 9888 931, or email: email@example.com