“Seeing you’ve made a difference to a child makes the stressful days worth it.”

Author: TACT

Tags: Child & Parent Fostering, LGBT

Natalie and Karina – TACT Foster Carers since 2017
South East

My partner Karina and I became TACT foster carers four years ago. We had a pretty good understanding of what we were getting ourselves into as Karina’s parents have been fostering with TACT for 20 years. They’ve had several parent and child placements, which is a specialist type of fostering where a parent (usually a young mother) and baby come to stay with them at a time when they need extra support or are going through a parenting assessment. After witnessing Karina’s parents making a difference to these families and supporting them as well, we both just kind of knew that this was the right thing for us to do.

Our application process was easy and quite a pleasant experience as we had an incredibly supportive and engaging Social Worker. We already knew who we were going to care for as we were taking over a mother and baby placement from Karina’s parents. Before coming to us, the mother and baby were with Karina’s parents for six months, during which we spent lots of time together and we already knew each other very well.

That first placement had its high and lows. The child was absolutely lovely, but her mother was dealing with serious mental health problems which brought its challenges. After nine months, the placement ended in separation and we supported the baby through leaving care on a Special Guardianship Order (SGO).

Even though we tried our very best to enable the parent and child to stay together, and despite the mother having been given all the opportunities to succeed, it became clear that the SGO was the best possible outcome for this little girl. I attended court to give evidence of the mother’s ability to parent which was a stressful experience, but my brilliant Supervising Social Worker helped me prepare and she accompanied me and supported me through the whole process.

Since then, we have had three short parent and child placements and we currently care for two little siblings aged one and two. They’ve been with us for five months and they will stay until a nice family adopts them. Before they came to us, they had already been through two massive changes in their short lives – separation from their mum, and later from their previous foster carers. No wonder they were very angry, stressed and anxious, particularly the older one.

However, we soon managed to establish a consistent routine for them, so that they had some structure in their daily lives, and knew when bedtime was, when they were going to be fed and what kind of activities we are going to do throughout the day. Thanks to this we soon began to see massive positive changes in their behaviour which felt wonderful. Seeing you’ve made a difference to a child makes all those stressful days worth it.

These siblings are now three and four and have been adopted by a lovely couple. They still remember us and we’ve maintained a great relationship with them and their adoptive parents. We’ve continued to stay in touch and met up regularly before the pandemic, now we stay in touch through video calls.

Recently, we have had two parent and child placements during the lockdown. While there were obviously challenges to taking in parent and child placements during the lockdown, we actually found that there were some advantages. It can be hard for two families to live under one roof at any time, but even more so when you can’t go anywhere else to get a bit of space. However, this also meant that the mothers had less distractions and more time to reflect and focus on what they needed to do.

Video calls have also become a lot more common, and we had a chat with both of these placements over video call before they arrived. This eased their nerves massively and also allowed us to understand their needs and cater to them as soon as they arrived. Both of these placements went really well and they left care with their children which is always wonderful to see.

I would recommend anyone who is thinking about fostering to go for it and in particular to consider taking on parent and child placements. They are incredibly rewarding, not only do you get the benefits of caring for a child, but you are also helping a family to stay together and therefore making a bigger difference.


Read more foster carer stories here.