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What is parent and child fostering?

Parent and child fostering is a great way of helping families to bond and build up a parent’s skills. Sometimes a parent needs help to look after their child, so they both move in with a foster carer for some extra support. The foster carer will be there to advise and guide so that the parent and their child can hopefully go on to have a happy, safe relationship.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, St Christopher’s has seen an increase in the number of parents and children who need to live with a foster carer. Nicky is a foster carer in our Eastern Region who has been working with a parent and child; find out how they are getting on.

“Over the years I have enjoyed lots of different roles within the childcare sector. My previous job was working within a gym as a crèche manager. As well as running a crèche I worked as a mental health advocate with colleagues. I started to become more passionate around working with young people and felt that it was time to take on a more challenging carer.

Fostering was always something my husband and I thought about but it was never the right time. But after this experience we decided to take the step into fostering and we were approved as Foster Carers in April 2019. We fully discussed fostering with the rest of my family before taking on this new role, as it has an impact on everyone not just me.

I can certainly confirm that I found the new challenging carer that I was looking for. My experiences as a Foster Carer have been an emotional rollercoaster. Every day and every placement is different. I don’t think I will ever stop learning as the children I look after are all so different. Fostering is so interesting and there is never a dull moment.

To have a complete stranger in your home is strange and daunting at times. I have found that it takes around six weeks for someone to settle in. House rules have been set and it’s a period of time to get to know each other and other members of your family.

Recently we have been fostering a parent and child. I keep daily logs on what is going well and what isn’t, the parent’s progress, baby’s development and generally anything that happens during our day. As some placements are court-ordered, these logs can be used as evidence.

These types of placement often require working with a lot of other professionals such as social workers, guardians, health visitors and midwives. You are expected to attend meetings, health checks, appointments and be an advocate.

You are also expected to support contact sessions so that the parent can see members of their family, the child’s other parent and their other children, if they have them. Sadly, not all members of the person’s family are always supportive of what you do.

I realise that you can’t change people’s lives for them, you can only give them the knowledge and tools they need to develop and grow, which helps them to achieve their goals.

Fostering for me is a very challenging, interesting, frustrating, transformational, demanding, stressful, fulfilling and eye-opening career. I have found it very useful to have a break in between placements to recharge. I use this time to reflect and spend some quality time with my own family.

Even today my friends and extended family think I’m bonkers to do what I do. Some days I could agree with them, but for now I embrace the experiences and the rewards it brings.

This is certainly a career that I will talk, cry and laugh about for a very long time!”

St Christopher’s needs more people to become foster carers to help more parents and their children. Are you up for the challenge? Enquire today to start your fostering journey.