Parent and Child Fostering is a specialist type of foster care; often, they are the difference many new parents need because they provide 24/7 care and support when needed most. These foster carers support mums to either prepare for their baby’s birth or provide practical and emotional support for new parents and children. The average timescale for Parent & Child placements is usually about 12 weeks; however, it will extend further if parents and their children need additional time. Ultimately, Parent and Child foster carers aim to help parents and their children move on to independent family lives together.
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Sadly, many Mums face pregnancy alone; as a result, they and their child become vulnerable. Many new parents have not had solid parental role models to influence them; therefore, they may need help and support in learning to care for their child. Also, many do not have a supportive network of family and friends within their community; thankfully, Parent & Child foster carers understand. Parent and Child foster carers have compassion, wisdom, and, more importantly, they have the life experience to help new parents, and they don’t judge.
‘Parent & Child foster carers know that trust does not come easily to some.’
Sadly, some parents did not have the best start in life. Many have been moved around in foster or children’s homes, many became homeless, or suffered abuse or neglect; sadly, they tend not to expect too much. Also, they are wary of strangers, and trust issues often surface as the need to protect themselves begins. Parent & Child foster care understands that sometimes, life for these parents is more complex; therefore, accepting help may not be for them.
Many young people have developed a survival mode to protect themselves. However, now, as a parent, they need to let their guard down and accept help. But, taking help is often the biggest challenge, as they often feel Parent & Child foster carers will judge them. This is the most complex challenge they have faced, and for those who don’t expect much and, sadly, have little trust in others, the challenge is about themselves.
‘The lack of confidence is in themselves as parents.’
Parent and Child foster care is a challenge as new parents may have barriers and low confidence. Also, as much as they want to be the best parents to their children, they have no way of achieving it without help; sadly, accepting support is the most significant barrier they face.
Many parents have no concept or understanding of caring for others and are unable to recognise feelings of love. They have become conditioned to survive by looking out for themselves; they feel vulnerable if they let others in.
Parent and Child foster carers understand the complex needs of new parents and know that pregnancy alone is tough. Subsequently, the demands of a new child on an already vulnerable mum with little support are challenging. Thankfully, Not for Profit Charities work with Parent and Child foster carers who have support networks to help parents overcome these challenges.
‘I know what abuse feels like!’
For many, having a child in a home of your own, with a loving family and unlimited love and security, is your ultimate dream. However, children who live with abuse, trauma or neglect often want children of their own because they are determined to be better parents. I know many people who didn’t have the best start in life; they told me, ‘I know what bad parenting is, and my child will not have it because of my experiences; I also know what not to do.’ Or, ‘ I know what abuse feels like, and my children will ever feel how I felt.’ Finally, ‘ My child will have unconditional and best love because of my past.’
If you met these people, you would never guess the hurt they have faced in their past; they are amazing parents with loving families they adore. To do this, they took a chance on strangers; they let others in and accepted help. Ultimately, they controlled the abuse and learned to trust others; they let go of their past and moved forward; as a result, they are now the best parents and grandparents ever, with children who adore them.
Parent and Child foster carers; helping families to stay together.
Children need to feel safe, protected, and cared for by loving parents; however, the most significant risk is the risk of failure. This risk is too much for many parents, and they walk away, believing it to be the best way for them and the child.
Thankfully, Parent and Child foster carers understand, and they lead with compassion, empathy, and kindness. These foster carers guide parents, teaching everyday life skills to build confidence that, over time, becomes a pathway to successful independent living.
Parent & Child foster carers often help parents recognise and understand the changing feelings they start to feel towards their child. They know that some parents don’t react well to change and often reject it. So, Parent & Child foster carers take their time, and parents begin to accept change with calm and patience. Ultimately, change helps them recognise and accept these new feelings as feelings of love toward their child, and the dream of family life begins.
Verve CIC campaign to support families.
Verve Recruitment CIC recruits foster carers for the Not for Profit sector; the support they give Parent and Child foster carers to help mums and babies is outstanding. Also, as a CIC, we invest our profits by creating campaigns to directly help vulnerable families. Our campaigns include charities such as Salford Food Parcels and the Women with Wings CIC in Little Hulton; these charities run food banks throughout Greater Manchester and provide vital training and support to empower women in their community. These campaigns also highlighted the needs of vulnerable families during the lockdown. As a result, I wrote the ‘Knitting Baby Clothes Appeal.’
We realised that austerity was biting harder than ever before as one Mum gave birth prematurely. There were no baby clothes small enough for him; he was tiny. So we went out to find baby clothes, but we were in lockdown, and the charity shops, which were the usual source of baby clothes for Mums on a budget, were closed. Also, many supermarkets don’t sell premmie baby clothes; those that did wanted £10.00 for a tiny cardigan! Sadly, many Mums are on a budget, and £10.00 is the difference between putting food on the table or turning the heating on.
Verve CIC gave the hand-knitted baby clothes to Sure Start Centres and Mother & Baby Units.
Almost immediately, I began to get emails from ladies offering to help. These ladies were in Scotland, the Isle of Wight, South Coast, East Coast, North West, you name it, they found us, and they donated over 2000 knitted garments. These hand-knitted clothes for babies were nothing like the mass-produced clothes from supermarkets; they were gorgeous. They were beautifully made, and each time the courier dropped off the parcels on my porch, I would open them and genuinely be humbled by the love and care you could see that had gone into making them.
I proudly donated them to the Surestart centres, community centres, mother and baby units and parents who needed a hand. But, to be honest, it upset me to see the reaction from the parents. Don’t get me wrong, they loved them and were grateful; however, the strongest response was because they were beautiful. These women never expected Arran jackets with matching hats and booties for their babies. The Ladies who Knit have fantastic taste; they also know how the best-dressed babies come from a little ball of wool! The best these Mums hope for is either a bargain from the charity shop or a hand-down from another Mum whose baby had outgrown theirs.
Support is often down to the postcode you live in.
One Mum said, ‘wow, my baby will look like a king in this; it’s gorgeous.’ She held a hand-knitted Arran jacket against her baby, and I welled up and thought, ‘why shouldn’t her baby have an Arran jacket? I know how blessed are we to have these extraordinary ladies; who knit Arran jackets, blankets, bootees, and toys, making Mums smile as this lady did; they are lovely. But why does she have to struggle to keep her baby warm? She should have money to buy her son a hand-knitted Arran jacket?’ Possibly, it is down to the postcode we live in?
Previously, many parents were taken ‘under the wings’ of others.
I grew up on an estate in Swinton, Salford, and many women who got ‘in trouble’ were put ‘under the wings’ of other women on the estate. These women were older women who had a heart bigger than themselves; they did the right thing because it was what they did; also, they recognised these women needed help.
I was blessed with grandmothers and great grandmothers who also took women under their wings when they were ‘ in trouble.’ They opened up their hearts and homes, even though they didn’t have much, certainly not by today’s standards; they shared what they had. More importantly, they knew these women didn’t know much about the system; however, they did. So they went with them to the Town Hall, as it was then, and placed them on the housing list. Once done, the women stayed with them until they were ready to move into a home of their own in a house around the corner so that they could keep an eye out for them from a distance, just in case!
You are paid a generous allowance for Parent & Child fostering.
These women were the Parent & Child foster carers of their day. Sadly, not much has changed, except communities lost focus, and we have appeared to have stopped caring. Also, these women didn’t get paid, nor did they expect to be; however, life today is different. Not for Profit Charities pay a generous allowance to support Parent & Child foster carers; after all, how can you support others if you are worried about paying your bills?
These women are the generations who walked before us, fearlessly paving the way to keep families together. I’m proud to be related to these ladies; they inspire me.
Parent & Child fostering does not require academic qualifications.
The main skills are empathy, compassion and a desire to do the right thing.
Parent & Child foster carers teach everyday life skills to parents.
The main types of referrals for foster carers are Parent & Child, sibling foster care, and foster care for older children and teenagers. Older children and teenagers usually get bad press, but thankfully, many don’t listen. As a result, older children get the chances in life they need with foster carers who understand those needs.
This also applies to sibling foster care; siblings should always stay together and have equal family life chances. However, this equally applies to Parents and their children. They have to stay together because they are family, in the same way, siblings are family, and families are precious.
Parent & Child foster carers are people with empathy and compassion to understand and guide parents. They teach them everyday life skills, as we did with our children, ease them into adulthood, and ultimately achieve independent living. Our children had us; many of these young people don’t have anyone; thus, without help, they are vulnerable. These parents need Parent & Child foster carers to take them under their wings and, without judgement, teach them to be the best parents they can be to their children.
We need more Parent and Child Foster carers. Can you help?
If you want to chat about Parent & Child fostering, please, get in touch on the form below. There’s no cost or commitment, just honest advice on the fostering process and the difference Parent & Child foster care makes for vulnerable families.
Ultimately, the difference Parent & Child foster carers make is truly rewarding for them, for it is a role like no other. However, the difference you make to a Parent and Child who move to have a family home and a life filled with love is priceless. Can you foster?
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