Fostering children means many different things but there is one unifying fact. Whatever kind of fostering a person does they must do it with zeal, dedication and commitment. This is because so many of the children and young people coming into care now have been damaged by their experiences. Fostering children like these means discovering that you can turn a life around and be that all-important difference.
One of the most unique and rewarding experiences that fostering children allows is supporting a Parent and Child placement. We have recently run a series on the nature of these kinds of placements – as well as the practicalities of managing them. There are many differences, yet the essential qualities a foster carer must bring to this distinct role remain the same: resilience and dedication to the idea of building a parent’s knowledge. Many of the young mothers and sometimes fathers are barely out of their own childhood. But this is not always the case. Some foster carers who specialise in Parent and Child placements will look after mature mothers and their babies.
There is a high demand for more Parent and Child foster carers so now is a good time to share some of the experiences and memories foster carers working in this area. Amancia is an experienced Parent and Child foster carer who has been fostering with us for eight years…
I have been with Rainbow for some years now and it has changed my life completely – I suppose every foster care will say pretty much the same. Because I had to look after my own daughter and her baby before I ever thought of fostering, Parent and Child placements were appealing to me from the start. First, I had to do all the standard training and though it seems a long while ago, I can remember how flustered I used to get when accepting those first few placements. The thing that made the difference is the support I got from Rainbow Fostering from the very beginning. There were often times when I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew. And sometimes I felt like giving up, but I always strongly felt the commitment from Rainbow to me personally. Since joining the agency, I feel I have always been provided with so many opportunities. So when a series of training courses were arranged for Parent and Child placements, I registered. I thought, then as now, that the experience of caring for my daughter and her baby when she was a teenager stood me in good stead. What appealed to me was the idea of supporting and mentoring a complete family. And that I could play a part in shaping their future – actually making sure it had a future. Keeping a family together can mean safeguarding the possibility of future generations of that same family. That’s quite a thought. And it all begins with the training and effort that you, as a foster carer, are prepared to put in. Young women – often teenagers – if they have come from dysfunctional family backgrounds simply cannot be expected to have any of the skills needed to look after their own child. For them, the whole process of having that baby will usually have been traumatic. And always with the knowledge, their child might be removed. If I can use my life skills to give a mother and baby the best chance of staying together, for me that is a real achievement. I feel this is an option that should always be explored – as long as it is judged safe for the baby.
If I had one tip for a carer new to Parent and Child fostering it would be to see the opportunity presented by bathing an infant with a young parent. This is a time when knowledge about caring for a baby can be given. The parent can see just how vulnerable and helpless the baby is in this situation. It can be a relaxing time when the baby can be calmed and there can be a conversation with the parent about what they have learned that day. Having at the same time to attend to the baby needs means the conversation avoids becoming too intense.
I had to learn some young mothers will simply not ever be able to learn to provide that level of the best care for their infant. That’s sad. But there are, as I have found, young mothers who are able to accomplish a great deal with the support and knowledge I can provide. It should always be remembered that most of these young mothers and fathers will have had little or no experience of being nurtured themselves. A foster carer like me has to almost teach them a new language. When they first arrive in placement it is very often the mother who needs most of the care. Meeting the needs of a baby, as long as it is healthy, is usually fairly straightforward. The mother is almost certain to have undergone upsetting experiences which means she has little or no confidence. She just has an instinct to keep her baby but with little or no idea of what that means or entails. By concentrating on meeting the mother’s needs, a framework is created whereby the mother can see that her own baby also has needs to be met. This is how she can start identifying with her child and its requirements. I have learnt that building mutual trust is important for everything that follows if the outcome is to be successful. It can’t happen straight away. One of the hardest things for a Parent and Child foster carer is having to keep a detailed record as well as maintain objectivity. The parent will know they are being monitored so this has to be done with tact and sensitivity. They must learn to accept that in some cases it will not be right for a baby to remain with its own mother. The foster carer plays a significant role in determining whether this will be the outcome. This means being able to remain dispassionate whilst at the same time providing care can be a difficult balance.
Name(s) changed to protect privacy
The Rainbow Fostering Approach.
Rainbow is a long established fostering agency supporting placements in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire. Becoming a foster carer is life-altering experience. We provide the help and guidance needed to make the right decision. Our Team at Rainbow has decades of experience – just as you would expect from an independent agency rated ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted. This means our applicants and foster carers will always receive the best support and training available.
“Training will help you overcome any issues that may arise with Parent and Child fostering and with the good support Rainbow give along with their network you should be fine”. – Angela.
If you are interested in finding out more about the rich and varied career opportunities fostering offers, call 0330 311 2845 today. Fostering is open to people who are (over 21) married, divorced, single or cohabiting. You can foster children or young people whatever your sexual orientation, ethnicity or cultural background.
As we are now in another national lockdown, we continue to stream our recruitment process and are holding initial interviews online via Skype. So there is nothing to prevent you from applying to foster right now. It’s easy to do and a member of our recruitment team will be available help you.
Today’s recommended blog can be found at:
As children and young people have returned to nurseries, schools and universities, it’s important to check the latest advice and guidance to stay safe and well. Make sure you regularly
visit – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus All our agency contact details and office locations can be found via the link below. If you prefer, you can leave your contact details and arrange for a member of our team to call you back at a time to suit you. We look forward to hearing from you soon! And remember Hands, Face, Space. http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/