“What I love about parent and child placements, is when the mum or dad finally form that special bond with the baby. It is so rewarding to watch, and I feel privileged to be part of that special moment.”
During my late 20s, I remember going to my friend’s house and her mum was a foster carer, and I think from that moment onwards I was interested in fostering. I asked my friend and her mum so many questions about what it involved and the types of placements they had taken. My mind was made up from that conversation, I knew fostering was the right thing for me. I didn’t start my fostering journey from that moment, I continued working in another role up until my 40s before I decided to go back and look into fostering.
I initially thought my first placement would be aged 0-10 but it ended up being a parent and child placement. I was not expecting to receive this type of placement but because of all the useful training provided, I was fully equipped with all the knowledge I needed to properly support them. The placement was a 14-year-old girl who had an 8-month-old baby and she needed to be placed in a stable, loving home so she could learn how to care for her baby independently.
It was hard, but I knew there were other children out there who needed my help. After a few more placements, I realised that parent and child placements were my niche, I had all the right skills and experience to carry on supporting mums/dads with their babies. I have continued with parent and child fostering ever since.
The ages of the placements can vary but usually they are around 16 to 18 years old. However, it is not just teenagers who require help with learning how to care for their babies, sometimes adults require a helping help. I had a placement who was 33 years old, she didn’t grow up in a loving home and didn’t have a relationship with her parents, so she was struggling to build a bond with her baby.
I think a lot of people have the misconception that with parent and child placements, you would be essentially babysitting, but it is not like that at all. It can be quite intense, but we are there to offer guidance to help them become great parents. Once the trust has been established things can ease a little bit which makes it more comfortable for everyone.
My daughter loves that I foster parent and child placements because she enjoys being around babies. I always have that apprehension that they may not like me or may not enjoy staying with me but that soon goes away when I remind myself what my role is. All the nerves are worth it though when I see the progression in the young people and difference I have made to their lives.