Parent and Child Foster Care is the difference vulnerable mums and babies need when needed most. Often, women go through pregnancy alone and feel vulnerable. However, once the baby is born, and with no support networks in place to help, these mums and their babies are more vulnerable than ever before.
Many of the mums who need Parent and Child foster care have had a tough start to life. Many have experienced life themselves in care, either as foster children or in children’s homes. For these young parents, the challenge of life after care is a challenge big enough for them to cope with alone. However, with a child, and no support, it is one they often feel we expected them to fail.
Parent and Child foster care is the difference families need as they provide practical and emotional support to help mums and babies bond. These carers are the pathway to a better future as they guide, without judgement.
Many new mums feel that failure is what we expect from them; why bother? Also, the strange feelings they feel for their child are often feelings they’ve never felt before. They don’t understand them, and even though having a family of their own is a dream held all their lives; without help, they know they will not be successful.
Parent and Child foster care is the difference in staying together as a family.
Parent and Child foster care placements are usually around 12 weeks; prior to or after the baby is born. Often, parents who have Parent and Child foster care may not have the best start in life. Many of these are care-leavers, foster children lived in residential children’s homes and may not have had much stability in their lives.
Many have lived a life of trauma and abuse; their needs are complex. Sadly, many new mums-to-be felt let down themselves; why will it be different now just because they are pregnant? They are wary of people they don’t know; trust and building positive relationships is for them the biggest barrier they have.
Parent and Child foster carers understand. They know life for many new mums is complex; their empathy and compassion help to break these barriers, and trust begins. It is important, for without trust, mums and babies may not stay together. The motivation for Parent & Child foster care is because they have identified the need for trust, and they know the skills they have can, and already have, made a difference.
New mums often feel judged. Let’s face it; babies do not come with manuals and for mums who have survived by looking after themselves, caring for others is a new concept. This is especially true for children from within the care system. For them, the biggest challenge is themselves and life after care from a system they know so well.
Understanding maternal feelings too many mums is a barrier.
Many parents don’t understand the concept of caring for others; understanding the maternal feeling they develop toward their child is the barrier as they don’t understand feelings of love. Why would they? For many, in order to survive, they condition care to develop barriers and protect themselves; they will be vulnerable if those barriers are down.
For many of us, the ultimate dream is to have a family of our own one day. The aim is more potent for children with lived-in care experiences; these future parents have often endured abuse, trauma, or neglect. For this reason, they are determined to be better parents themselves to their own children. It is their aim in life.
They know what bad parenting is. Their inherent empathy means they know what to do and what not to do. One new mum said, ‘I know what abuse feels like. My children will never feel how I feel. They will have unconditional and best love; not because of my past, because that didn’t define me. Their love is from the future I make for them because my future has love. My future is kinder to me than my past.’
Accepting help from my Parent and Child foster carer enabled me to break barriers.
‘I knew that hurt in my past could define me. But I had to move on, for me, my partner, and my baby. This time around, I had love, but as usual, I didn’t understand it and often got it wrong. It was only when I learned why I did that from my Parent and Child foster carer that I learned how to change.’
‘It was simple, really. I didn’t know of any other way of living, and I knew that if I did it the way I knew, I would get it wrong. The outcome of that was too much for me. It was important because I knew where that way led. So, I took the support, let others in, and trusted. I smashed my barriers, and it felt good because I had gained control of my life, for me, and my family.’
In the past, Parent & Child foster care were women who ‘took you in.’
In the past, women who were ‘in trouble’ went ‘under the wings’ of other women. These women were older women with a heart bigger than themselves. They did the right thing because it was what the women did. They knew these women needed support to keep mums and their babies together.
I bless my grandmothers and great-grandmothers who took women ‘in trouble.’ Although they had slight, they opened their hearts and homes and shared. Also, they knew of the barriers women faced who didn’t know the system. However, they knew the system and took them to the Town hall and got them on the housing list under ‘urgent.’
These women and their babies then stayed with them until they were ready to move into a home of their own. The house would always be ‘around the corner’ so they could keep an eye out (from a distance), just in case!
These women are the generations who walked before me, fearlessly paving the way to keep families together. I’m proud to be related to them; they inspire me.
These women are the Parent & Child foster carers of the past who did not get paid for caring; nor did they expect to be. It was simply something that women did for each other. For without it, where would the child be?
However, life today is different. The simplicity of days, where you helped, because it was the right thing to do, has gone. Today’s world has changed and 12 years of austerity, a pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, means that for many, keeping a roof over their head is their biggest challenge. Even though we would love to help others; without money, we too would become vulnerable as we need to pay the mortgage.
Parent and Child foster carers receive a substantial allowance which reflect their skills and experience in caring. Parent & Child is a specialist type of foster care. You don’t need academic qualifications, but you must have life experiences, empathy, compassion, and are non-judgemental.
One lady asked me about Parent & Child foster care. She said, ‘I don’t think you will be interested in me; I don’t have ‘O’ levels.’
I asked if she had any experience with children; could she advocate for children? She laughed and said, ‘I don’t know what that means, but I can speak up for them!’
The lady had seven birth children and brought most of them up as a single parent. She also had 12 grandchildren, whom she adored. She told me that some of her children had often strayed on the wrong path. When they did, she said, I worked with the Police and social services.
Parent & Child foster care bring about change.
I know my way around the system; I got them the help they needed and entitled to. However, she said, I worry. What about the children in care who don’t have someone like me who knows the system? How do they know about being a mum and running a home? I worry about them and that’s why I want to help.
I said gently, where do you think your children would have ended up if you hadn’t been their voice? She replied in prison; or God knows where. They would have carried on down that path; I know where that path leads. I did the right thing; it’s what I do. Today, no-one shares anything. It’s every woman for herself; it’s wrong.
It’s free, and there is no obligation. We need more Parent & Child foster carers to keep mums and babies together and bring about change. To do this, we need to be like the generations before us and share information, our lives, homes, and hearts with the genuine intent of making a difference in the lives of vulnerable families.
If you want to have a chat about Parent & Child foster care, get in touch with me on the form below. I recruit foster carers for the Not for Profit charities and Local Authorities because I don’t believe in large businesses making money from vulnerable mums and their babies.
You will need to be over 21, have a spare bedroom and are a non-smoker, with a strong support network around you. But, the main criteria for Parent & Child foster care is that of those who walked before us, you need kindness and compassion to want to make a difference. Your kindness, together with resilience , makes a difference. Can you foster?