Fostering comes in all shapes and sizes, with each experience of foster caring being as individual as the child or young person moving into your home. Every child within the fostering system will have specific needs that need to be learned about and catered for. However, parent and child fostering holds an extra challenge, as carers open their homes to, usually, a young parent and their family.
The concept behind parent and child fostering is to keep families together. They usually happen when a parent is vulnerable and needs extra support with their baby or young child. There can be lots of reasons for this, maybe they didn’t have a great upbringing or weren’t nurtured themselves, the parent or child could have a disability or special educational needs, they may just need to learn the skills needed to give their baby the best possible start in life.
The early years of our lives are when we develop the most, we discover speech and communication, attachment bonds, and how to interact with others, and 20% of fostering admissions are infants. So, if there is a possibility of helping young parents develop nurturing bonds with their young children, it will have a positive impact on more than one life.
Welcoming a vulnerable young family into your home requires a strong level of resilience, patience, and emotional robustness. Carers need to be able to offer high levels of support (usually looking after a young person and guiding them in the best way to look after their child). If you’ve ever lived with a baby or toddler in your home, you’ll understand that raising them can be quite stressful, so being calm and objective, whilst also offering high levels of support to the young family are also essential. If they’re panicking, you can’t panic.
Another vital factor to remember is that, as a carer, you won’t be the primary care giver to the toddler or baby living in your home; their primary care giver is their parent. While it’s so easy to say, “you don’t want to do it like that”, this won’t help a young parent learn to look after their child. Instead, the most helpful thing you can do is offer non-judgemental support and a caring environment to the parents.
Building an open and honest relationship with the parents gives them the opportunity to open up about their worries and concerns. As a foster carer, you will also need to communicate with professionals, both verbally and in writing, sharing your observations of how the young family are coping with their child.
In all cases, it’s about finding the ideal balance, combining the wisdom and insight that you undoubtedly have to share with professional boundaries. In essence, you need to be a role
model, wearing many hats including mentor, advocate, and teacher, while providing a warm and nurturing space for a young family to grow.
If you’re interested in helping a young family grow and bond together from the safety of your home, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to have a chat with one of our team