Tom and Sharon have been fostering for 15 years. For the last four years, they have also been offering parent and child foster placements. It is an area of fostering we as an agency know we excel in. Last year nearly a quarter of our new placements were parent and child. And the demand for them is ever growing.
Sharon reflects on parent and child fostering for her and her family.
It is something that was suggested by my supervising social worker. I had been fostering for a number of years and we had never thought about it before. Just because we had never thought about it. I had spoken to another foster carer about it but still not really thought about it for us. Tom was worried about having a mum in the home and wasn’t sure if it would work for us. I think he was worried about allegations. But we talked about it and decided it was something we would try to do. I am glad we did.
You definitely need a strong maternal presence but Tom has walked alongside me because the whole family need to be supportive.
Our first mother and baby was a teenage mum and her baby. She knew this was her chance to look after her baby. She didn’t always agree with the help we offered her but she was never hostile or defensive. She understood that we wanted to get the best outcome for her and her child. In the end we achieved that. That doesn’t always mean them staying together and in this case it didn’t. Mum realised she was too young and the baby ended up being cared for by a member of her family. But that still means it was a good outcome for everybody really.
Mum had the opportunity to try her best whilst getting support and the baby got good continuous care.
The mums often need looking after. Their early start in life is often difficult. They don’t have the support from their family that mums of all ages need. They can be rebellious and without a good start, make wrong choices. Without proper guidance, it can often result in difficult friendships and complicated lives.
We write daily reports and I think it is important for mum to read these and see what I have observed so they know how to improve and learn.
They are not all teen mums either. We have looked after an older mum who agreed to come into foster care with her baby, as a last chance to look after her by herself.
The mums are often anxious. So it is important to be non-judgemental. We need to understand that these situations are difficult for the mums. We need to give them confidence to believe they can do it and it is important to encourage mum to learn every aspect of caring for their baby. The physical care isn’t often the issue, but you need to spend time giving mum help with the emotional issues surrounding it. Watching a mum grow into her own person is emotional and rewarding because they don’t always have their own family and support.
You have to be realistic about what they can achieve, and just show a different way. They need a positive experience of living within a family. Giving mum the confidence and to be strong enough to make the right choices in life.
It is a big journey for everybody. We learn all the time. We often think that our brains are like a treasure box of memories, with lots of ways to overcome challenges. It is all worth it.
Is it something you could do? With excellent support and training we are always looking for more carers.
Call homefinding on 01622 765646