Our remarkable foster carers not only make a life changing difference to children and teenagers, some carers choose to open up their hearts and homes to a parent and child in need of support.
A parent and child foster placement is a specific type of fostering were, a parent and their baby or young child, is placed with the carer if they need some extra support and advice.
We caught up with new foster carer, Joy, who's chosen to to provide room in her heart and home for a parent and child in need of extra support. Joy shares her journey so far...
Hi, I’m Joy and I started fostering after a series of life events presented me with a new opportunity.
For more than 20 years I worked in the legal profession, eventually specialising in child protection work. In 2011 my husband died very suddenly and six weeks later I was diagnosed with an aggressive but thankfully benign brain tumour. This changed my thinking, I decided to do more of what I enjoyed before it was too late. I was always a passionate sailor, and a qualified Yacht master so I started to do yacht deliveries and charters as skipper and or mate/chef. Since 2011 I have done five Atlantic crossings, chartered all over the Med and Caribbean and a passage to New Zealand. Lately, until Brexit stopped me working abroad, I was teaching Sailing and navigation in Palma.
The combination of Brexit and COVID-19 made living and working abroad virtually impossible for the whole of 2020. I didn’t want it to be over, but it was, and I felt it was time to move on. Life has a funny way of presenting new opportunities, you just have to see it.
As I started to look into fostering, I thought there would be some prejudice against a single carer of my age, but I didn't find any. I was up-front with my assessing social worker from the start, I had given it a lot of thought before and during the process, so I was happy to discuss my thoughts and feelings and coping strategies with her.
She did a brilliant job, challenging where needed but never judgemental.
Although the process does dig deep to ensure you are right for the role, I wasn’t offended by the intrusion, as every failed foster placement could potentially ruin a life so, I'm glad that so much care and thought was put into the assessment.
During my time in the legal profession, I had come across parent and child foster -placements. I saw first-hand what a wonderful opportunity they represented to mothers who had no family support or guidance and were struggling to show they could parent effectively given the right environment and a bit of genuine kindness. My own daughters were teenagers and I knew that if they were in similar circumstances, they would have no chance if they didn't have a secure family unit to fall back on.
As these types of placements seemed to be pitifully thin on the ground, I had it in mind for quite some time that this type of fostering was something I felt motivated and able to do. I also understood the legal process of care proceedings so the idea of keeping records and providing evidence without making a judgment came naturally.
My hopes as a foster carer are that I will make a difference in a very small way, to give something back to the community. I realise the parents who come to me will only be with me for a relatively short time, but I hope it will be the boost they need to be able to keep their child with them. Every broken family is a personal tragedy for all involved, even when it’s in the best interests of the child. As long as I can say I did my best, gave all the love and support I could, even if ultimately it wasn’t enough, it will still make a difference.
If you can help a parent who’s struggling to cope or just needs a lucky break, why not do it? You might be the difference between a parent and child staying together, or that child - who had done nothing wrong - losing the chance to be brought up in its birth family. That has to be worth the effort!
I chose to foster with my own local authority because I was impressed by the first contact, and the openness and honesty of the staff. I wanted to perform a service to my community, and I wanted to work closely and directly with the social worker involved in the case.
I wanted to work for my local authority - not for an agency that would in turn cost the authority money. So far, I'm glad I did.