Patsy is a foster carer in the North East who has particular experience in Parent and Child fostering. She has been with Team Fostering for over 20 years.
As one of the earliest foster carers at Team Fostering, Patsy has seen a lot in her fostering career. Starting with Team over 20 years ago, she was drawn to working in foster care after she saw the remarkable effect that her next door neighbours had had on the young girl that they were fostering. Watching her flourish and grow, Patsy knew that it was something she could provide to a child too, and so she applied to become a foster carer.
Being a parent and child specialist foster carer came around almost by accident, however. Patsy was working with young people of many different ages, from different backgrounds without a particular specialism, and she was happy to do that. But then, D, a teenager placed with Patsy, found out she was pregnant.
For a young person in care who then has to learn to bring up a baby, often while they’re still a child themselves, it feels like an impossible situation. But as Patsy had a hard-won rapport with D, it made sense for her to support D and the baby.
With the hard work and support of Patsy, Team Fostering and the local authority, D had a happy, healthy child and for the early years of her child’s life, brought her up in Patsy’s home. But like most parent and child fostering arrangements, it wasn’t an easy adjustment; “it’s like having a whole new family turn up in your house, with everything that comes with that – bottles, baby clothes, sterilising equipment, prams… and you have to fit that into your life.”
But, Patsy explains, it’s quite an adjustment for a young person too: “the parent knows they’re being watched and they can get quite defensive; but you have to balance that with making sure the baby is safe first of all. You have to be able to report back on how the young person is doing with the child and you can feel very conflicted because you want to nurture the young person but your first responsibility is to the baby.”
Despite the challenges, Patsy says that Parent and Child fostering is extremely rewarding. As she explains; “if you give that young person a chance, which many don’t, then they sometimes succeed and become great parents too”. And the proof is in the pudding, as many of the young people Patsy has supported have stayed in touch with her, often living close by – just like D and her child, who is now an adult in her own right.
If you’re a foster carer considering moving into Parent and Child Fostering, Patsy says it’s worth learning as much as you can beforehand. “There are positives and negatives to it, and it helps if you sign up to support groups and gather information online, but it still won’t prepare you for the actual experience!”
But with the support of Team Fostering you’ll have a remarkable opportunity to provide safety and stability to both a young person and their child. If you’d like to learn more about Parent and Child Fostering, just complete the form on the right and we'll get back to you with more information.