IT’S always headline news when the First Minister is involved and so it was bound to make waves when she revealed to Vogue magazine that foster caring might be part of her plans for her life post-politics.

And what positive publicity for a role that desperately needs more people to fill it.

However, in the coverage generated by the Vogue article, Ms Sturgeon's interest in fostering has been repeatedly linked with an interview she gave in 2016 about enduring a miscarriage at the age of 40.

The First Minister herself didn't make that link when talking about the topic to Vogue. She said it was her experience of working directly with care experienced young people and campaigners that had made her want to think about taking that step.

Ms Sturgeon approached the topic with caution. It "may be something we would think about," she said.

“I’ve become really involved in and passionate about improving the opportunities for young people who grew up in care,” she told Vogue. "It’s something my husband and I have only scratched the surface of talking about.”

Foster carers will have many varied and complex reasons for opening their homes to young people who need care and protection. It's unhelpful when the motivation to do so is framed as a desire to fill a void or as a replacement for some other loss.

It falls under the long and offensive list of ways we talk about young people who are fostered and adopted.

By focusing on a carer using fostering as a means to salve their own ends, we’re forgetting about the young person at the heart of the situation.

It was only last year that the grossly offensive Swap The Mop advertising campaign somehow made it through pre-production and out into the wild.

The dreadful campaign showed a couple given a mop to look after and made a bizarre comparison between children and young people in need of care and cleaning materials.

It came with the suggestion that fostering was a good way to use a child to fill some spare time in your life, that a young person could be useful for fulfilling an adult’s emotional needs.

It was an extremely bad example of the genre but certainly not unique in its clumsy way of trying to distil a nuanced subject into a gimmick.

By focusing on a carer using fostering as a means to salve their own ends, we’re forgetting about the young person at the heart of the situation. The young person themselves can end up feeling like some kind of consolation prize.

Foster carers tend to be extolled as virtuous angels in the same blanket way nurses are. The majority are good humans but, as in every other area, some leave real room for improvement while others are downright dreadful.

I wonder if the people who go on about how incredible foster carers are ever stop to think about the implications for the young people in their care. Yes, would-be fosters carers have to go in to the role with their eyes open, but the more we frame the vocation as one suited only to people with exceptional levels of tolerance and courage the more we reinforce the stigma that children and young people in foster care are extremely difficult and hard work.

We talk about parenting being the hardest job in the world but there’s also an acceptance that just about anyone is fit to give it a try.

Children and young people in foster care are more often than not living with the effects of trauma and so, if their behaviour is difficult to manage, that’s because they are reacting to what the adults around them have forced them to endure.

Fostering is not like other roles. It’s why the discussion around whether foster carers should be paid or not is so intense. Foster carers Jimmy and Christine Johnstone went to court in Glasgow last year to secure employment rights and few would deny they should have them. But young people themselves can feel love is conditional when it is also their carers’ job.

Yes, fostering can be very hard. Yes, it’s probably preferable for everyone involved if the foster carer is a cut above average.

But adulation for current foster carers and enthusiasm for would-be foster carers has to be finally balanced with always, always prioritising the needs and emotions of the child or young person. And to that extent you do have to be selfless.

In the coverage of Ms Sturgeon’s interview, one article suggested that the First Minister might like to “take on” a foster carer, as though the child might be an opponent to be vanquished. There is a dearth of foster carers and an awful number of children and young people who need love and support their parents can’t provide.

Nicola Sturgeon has spent significant time with care experienced young people and she knows what’s involved so you can be confident in saying that this is a comment she has made thoughtfully.

Scotland needs foster carers from all walks of life and it’s much needed positive publicity to have the First Minister highlight that professional couples can become involved too.

Nicola Sturgeon is in a better position than most to understand these issues. Whether or not she and husband Peter Murrell decide ultimately to become foster parents, if her comments can help change the way we think and talk about fostering, that can only be a good thing.

In talking about the issue, however, we must tread lightly. They aren’t a fallback option or a means to a living. Children and young people aren’t a problem to be solved or trouble to be dealt with. They are people in need of love.