Meet Patricia who has been fostering for over 10 years! Patricia has helped support many parent and child placements and has helped them onto independance to start a life of their own.
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. After I joined with Capstone, I went to the ‘Skills to Foster’ training course which opened my eyes to what fostering involves because it gave me a real insight into real life scenarios and the reality of it all. When all my training was complete, and my assessment had taken place, I had to go to a panel meeting which was very nerve wracking because I would find out if I were to be approved or not. I didn’t have be worried because everyone was really nice in the meeting and I got approved!
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 this placement. 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.
The placement was hard, and it really did test my decision about whether to continue my fostering journey, 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 to do this type of placement ever since.
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. I usually look after a couple of placements per year as they stay with me for a few months, so the year does go by quickly! I currently have a mum and baby who have requested to stay with me longer than the standard placement, and she has been with me for more than a year.
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. As the foster carer, it is my role to supervise them at all times, they are not allowed to be alone with the baby and at times 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. At times, the parents can be offended that I am trying to teach them how to look after their baby but they do eventually understand why they need to do things in a certain way, or talk to the baby in a certain way, or even how to clean and feed their baby properly.
I am quite lucky that all my friends and family were very supportive about my decision to start fostering, my daughter loves that I foster parent and child placements because she enjoys being around babies. With all my placements, 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.
All in all, my fostering journey has had its challenges but overall, it has been worth it. I get all the support I need from Capstone to be the best carer I can be, and even when things can get a bit challenging, I know there is someone there who I can talk to and lean on.