Hamish and Rachel from Plymouth have been foster carers for 17 years, and for the last 9 years with the Fostering Foundation. Although they have fostered children on their own, they specialise in providing Parent and Child Foster placements.
When asked about the value and the challenges of Parent and Child Fostering. Hamish and Rachel both felt that the importance of providing an opportunity for parents to learn, demonstrate what they can do and remain together as a family, is of great value and what they find most rewarding. ‘For a child to grow up safe within a loving family is the best outcome.’ They both reflected that placing parents and their children in fostering homes, means that they can be supported to learn new skills and develop the ones that they already have.
Parents can come from very different backgrounds and some can have very complex family situations. One of the challenges can be adjusting to having another adult, or adults, in your home and becoming used to differing living standards and expectations. For example, how a parent does things around the home may not be to the standard you would normally, however, the most important thing is that it is good enough and safe for their child. Therefore, as a Parent and Child foster carer you need to be flexible and open to getting to know and understanding the adults who come to live in your home.
Hamish reflected that this type of fostering works well for them as a family. When they started, their children were very young and they readily accepted having another family in their home. Invariably it would be a child younger than them, or a baby which they always enjoyed. As their own children have grown up, they enjoy being part of a family that supports another family – and they still loving having babies and toddlers around. The downside can be saying goodbye and the upset if a parent does not go home with their baby.
The carers spoke about the demands of Parent and Child Fostering. There is lots of paperwork and daily recordings to complete. Also, different fostering placements need different levels of supervision. If they have a parent with a young baby who needs feeding during the night, and they need to monitor the feeds, this can be exhausting for all concerned. However, the benefits are that placements are short term – normally up to 12 weeks, and they often choose to take a break and re-energise before they look to offer another placement.
Rachel reflected that there is no better reward than seeing a family, after the placement has ended, living in their own home and doing well. Lots of the parents that have been with them in placement, keep in touch regardless of the outcome. It can be very sad when the plan for a child is not to remain with their parent but ensuring the safety and the well-being of the child during the placement and beyond, is the most important thing.
One of the parents Hamish and Rachel have supported was happy to talk a little about his experiences. P said he was really grateful for the opportunity and being with a good family was helpful and gave him inspiration. P acknowledged that it can be hard to live with someone else when you are used to getting on with things independently. Also, it can be really stressful and intense, knowing that you are being watched, especially when you really want to be sure that you are getting things right. Sometimes it can be difficult to take advice but looking to the future and imagining doing all the normal things with his child, was what kept him focussed. He has enjoyed building on the things he already knew and learning new skills.
If you or anyone you know, would like to find out more about the benefits of fostering caring and particularly Parent and Child Fostering. We’d love to hear from you.
Just call 03300 10 20 45 or email firstname.lastname@example.org