Fostering a parent and child placement
Read about Sarah's experience of supporting young mothers to care for their babies.
Nurturing parent and child
“I see my role as nurturing the mum and baby and walking beside them as they begin their journey together.
“25 years ago, I heard an advert on the radio about fostering and made enquiries. We had three daughters of our own and the house was always full of them and their friends and I felt I had room in our house and our hearts for one more.
“The first child we fostered was an eight year old girl, then over the years we moved on to babies, siblings, then we went on to teens and more challenging children.”
Breaking the cycle
“We have been very grateful for the support given by our social worker and it was in conversation with her, 14 years ago, I happened to mention that if some of the parents of the children and young people we were fostering, had received support and guidance with bringing up these children, their child may not be in care. She then asked me if I would like to be in the position of possibly breaking the cycle, by fostering the young mum with her new born baby! So we started our next phase in our fostering career!”
“They are encouraged to attend groups or courses.
“Supporting these young mums (aged from 13 upwards) and encouraging them to be a good parent (not perfect, there's no such thing) and to put their babies needs first, isn't easy for any teen. This time of their lives is usually centred around themselves, not a needy, demanding baby! They are also going through the court process and are expected to complete a parenting assessment, health assessment, possibly a psychiatric assessment, and receive counselling. They are encouraged to attend groups or courses such as baby massage, sensory baby, budgeting, healthy eating, coping with various addictions, along with possibly full-time education if they are still school age.
“These parents are amazing and we try to put them at ease and take it one day at a time.
“This can be very daunting at the start of placement, especially when they have just given birth, moved into a new home with people they don't know, with possibly very different lifestyles, values and family dynamics. These parents are amazing and we try to put them at ease and take it one day at a time with small steps to start with, encouraging them and praising them as much as possible.
“The baby is their responsibility and I have very little 'hands on' with them, as I encourage a good attachment between mum and baby. But always ready with a helping hand if needed (or a cup of tea!)”
Helping them become independent
“Sadly some mums make the agonising decision to leave the placement without their baby. They are given all the options available and I listen to the young mum with compassion and support them emotionally as they continue their journey. I'm not here to judge.
“Others struggle at first, but go on to move into independence with their baby and send me photos and updates over the years!
“There are sometimes a lot of restrictions on the placement and with CCTV in place and doors, windows having to be kept locked, to keep them both safe, it can feel more like a prison that a home and when the mum is told about the restrictions, we are left mopping up the tears and holding the placement together.
“But, the joys are tremendous. A new born baby brings out the smiles in everyone.
“Only today my present young mum told me how proud she is of her 7 week old baby and how she can't help smiling every time she looks at her. They have a good attachment and are both enjoying each other so much. She is breastfeeding the baby and accepting all advice given to her. She is coming out with funny words and phrases our family uses and has settled into our crazy household as though she's been here forever!”
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