The first years of our lives are the times when we learn and develop so much. We discover speech and communication, how to move ourselves, attachment bonds and how to interact with others. The early years are our foundations for our adolescent and adult lives, teaching us learned behaviours that we carry into the future. So, if our life start isn’t great, it can seriously impact on our chances to fulfil our true potential. Which is why fostering young children in loving and nurturing homes is so important.
In the UK babies and toddlers are the children who most often find themselves in foster care. They are also the most likely to be returned to care and stay in care throughout their childhoods. Staggeringly, 20% of fostering admissions are infants. There are many reasons for this, they could have been voluntarily placed into care by their primary carers because of family difficulties, they may have suffered from neglect, or even have been exposed to drugs and alcohol before they were born.
Many infants arrive in care underweight and living with serious medical problems, disabilities, or developmental delays. They may also have failed to make any secure attachments with adults. Secure attachments during early years are responsible for a child’s emotional and social development. If a young child doesn’t have the opportunity to form these vital connections, they can find it harder to form relationships and may suffer from mental health problems in later life.
Because of this, early years foster care is an essential service and can provide some of the most visible and notable positive impacts to a young child’s development. Carers have to work on creating an environment that enables the young child they care for to recognise that they can rely on them. This means that as well as providing a safe home, there is also food, comfort, love, and guidance.
Fostering young children has the potential to be a 24 hour a day job (anyone who has lived in the same home as a baby or toddler will understand this) and requires more than the ability to be patient and nurturing. In many cases carers may find themselves working with birth parents and other family members. This could be to help build stronger bonds between them and the child or to prepare them to be reunited as a family.
Affinity Fostering believe that if you build the right foundations, everyone can have the opportunity to grow and flourish. That doesn’t just go for the children in our care, we believe it for the whole Affinity family. Which is why we offer so much support to our foster carers and their families. No one in the Affinity family is ever alone and each carer has access to 24/7 support. Alongside this, children who already live in carer households have the opportunity to have days out to let off steam (again, something that any child who has shared a house with a baby or toddler needs). We care about everybody involved in the growth and nurturing of the young children in our care.
If you are interested in finding out more about how you can make a difference to the life of a baby or toddler, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to have a chat with one of our team.