Andrea is a down to earth, no nonsense sort of person. After years of fostering teenagers, her Nexus Fostering supervising Social Worker, Declan, started to talk about parent and child fostering.
“I wasn’t really interested in it, but Dec assured me I would be ‘perfect’ and that it was well within my realms of capability, so I thought I’d try.”
My first placement was…
“…a mum and baby placement. They arrived within four hours of the local authority referring them to Nexus Fostering. Even though I was prepared, I began to panic. If only I knew then what I know now; that I like everything about being a parent and child foster carer. I love meeting the new parent or parents (I’ve had both mum and dad on two occasions!). My aim is to settle them into the family as soon as possible. I don’t set strict rules but I do ask for my home and my family to be respected.
Every single parent has come to me from different backgrounds, upbringings and experiences, my youngest parent was 17 and my oldest was 38!”
How has your role affected your own family?
“Having babies in the house has been a big learning curve for my own children. My elder daughters who are 18 and 23 were shocked, initially, by the incredible amount of work involved in caring for them – their needs are relentless! Nowadays, they don’t bat an eye at our parent and child placements and we all work and live together quite happily, but parent and child fostering is not without its challenges!”
Were you concerned about caring for parents as well as their child?
“My initial concern was that I would need to tell parents what to do and share information with them that they weren’t going to like. I was right to be anxious about these things as they’ve been an issue with every single parent and child placement I’ve had. The difference now is that I have learnt how to correct without being critical and I keep the parent(s) informed and focussed on caring for their child whilst they’re living with me, no matter what the future holds for them.”
Have you had additional training and support?
“Training is available for anyone who would like to become a parent and child carer, like me. I chose to attend training to help me understand legal jargon and court procedures, which is really useful. But to be honest, every single parent and child placement is different from the previous one and there really aren’t any set points to go through for training. Each issue or event leads to another and so on! I don’t need as much support from Declan as I did in the early days, but I know where he is when I need him!”
Any advice for people considering parent and child placements?
“My advice to anyone wishing to look after parent and child placements is that it is ‘full-on’! There are lots of appointments to attend (health visitor, GP, etc) and you will need to be up to date with all standards of baby care such as vaccinations, check-ups, hygiene, feeding and so forth. I have to know these things and find a way of communicating them to the parent as many have learning difficulties. Information has to be repeated often, sometimes many times during each and every day, so patience and understanding is essential!”
Would you recommend it?
“Most definitely, I would! In fact, I love it! Each placement is a challenge and I thoroughly enjoy the process from start to finish. I keep in touch with some of my previous placements, but only if they ask. I have become a second mum to one parent and we keep in touch regularly, meeting up for a mother/daughter day out every few months, which is just so lovely.”
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