Our carers Mel and Mike, who have been foster carers with Cheshire West and Chester Council for over 20 years, have recently undertaken the Parent and Child training and are eagerly awaiting their first family coming to stay with them.
We caught up with the couple to chat about how they found the training and how their wealth of experience will undoubtedly have prepared them.
What inspired you to undertake the training to become Parent and Child Carers?
Our interest started to grow when we had our first baby placed with us. His parents were separated and Dad was gaining lots of parenting skills from us at contact visits. My husband Mike was completely on board. He’s brilliant at understanding young people’s initial anxieties and welcoming them into our home. We see Parent and Child Fostering as a chance to keep a child safe first and foremost but to support Mum or Dad in the early stages of being a new parent, with the hope that they can stay together.
What are you most looking forward to in welcoming your first Parent and Child?
We’re looking forward to ‘teaching’ a new parent and sharing what we know. Some parents are so young or they have missed out on key elements of parenting in their own life, so it would be great to put support in place for them, and give them the confidence to look after their own child. We’ll be there to recognise if it’s not working and help them learn.
Have you been given any advice from others who currently undertake the role?
Our training and other foster carers really prepared us for making sure we have a robust risk assessment in place to keep everybody safe. We know that we’ll be helping a new parent understand why she or he has been placed with us and where we are coming from when we offer help and advice.
How do you think your general fostering experience will prepare you for the role?
We have extensive experience that will help immensely- we’ve been fostering for over 20 years and looked after teenagers, siblings, young people, children and a baby. I think our long service will help us a lot in working with social workers and other professionals like doctors and such. We’ve logged a lot of information over the years and recording is a big part of all types of fostering roles, so we’re very used to this.
How did you find the Parent and Child training? What did it consist of?
What I remember most is the importance of having the right placement agreement and setting goals to help the baby, the parent and ourselves. We absolutely feel ready to welcome our first family after undertaking the training. The training covered the needs of observational skills and recording for and the legal framework and insights into the reality of Parent and Child Fostering.
How do you think Parent and Child Fostering will be different to ‘regular’ fostering? Will you need to make any changes to your home or routine for example?
The biggest change will be that having a parent and their child with us will be our sole focus, we’re used to having a busy household and lots of children and young people with us. Something that will remain the same is the structure and putting our all into what we do. While the safety of the baby is paramount, we’ll be placing our full attention on Mum or Dad too.
How have you been supported by the fostering team over the last 20 years and in your decision to start parent and child fostering too?
It was actually our former Supervising Social Worker who suggested this type of fostering to us, and to be honest when he left the service, we were worried if continuing with it might be difficult, because it’s great to have someone you know supporting you. Now we have a new Supervising Social Worker, who has such valuable experience with Parent and Child Fostering, so I have full confidence that support is there if we need it.