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Real Life: 'Why I foster both mums and babies'

As Mother’s Day approaches, we chat to Cambridge foster carer Felicia, 33, who is mum to Isla, 5, and has provided a nurturing home for eight young mums and babies over the past three years

What made you want to foster?

I was adopted so helping children has always been something I wanted to do. I felt I could relate a little bit to other children not growing up in their birth family’s home. Then my sister gave me the book A Child Called It when I was about 13 - and what that person went through as a child has always stuck with me. Once I had my daughter Isla, it just reinforced my passion for wanting to help children. Too many children have a difficult start in life and I wanted to be a part of trying to change that.

Why did you choose parent and child fostering?
I was approved as a foster carer towards the end of 2019 and started to receive referrals for placements just before Covid-19 hit. My social worker asked if I would consider a parent and child placement on a temporary basis as I was at home all the time owing to lockdown. I agreed although it wasn’t a route I thought I’d go down originally as I worked part-time in a school kitchen, and didn’t want to give up the security of regular income to rely solely on fostering.

How did the first placement go?

It felt daunting at first, even though I’d had all the training. It was an 18-year-old mum and an eight-month-old baby. But by the time the placement ended I knew this was the route I wanted to go down. I took a leap of faith by handing my notice in at the school and haven’t looked back since!

Do you get attached to the parents and babies?

You do build a bond with them and feel sad when they go but it’s a ‘good’ sad, because they get to go home with their babies, and it’s rewarding to know that you’ve helped them to get to that stage.

How has your daughter Isla taken to the mums and babies?

Really well. She is absolutely amazing and is a huge part of my success with these placements. She is really good with the mums and babies when they arrive and does build a bond with them. I’m careful to explain everything and let her know when the placement is nearing the end. Some of the mums will keep in touch and message me around Isla’s birthday, which is lovely.

What support do you receive from the Nexus Fostering, who organise your training and placements?

They are just great. They also ensure Isla is happy with having people in our home which is really touching. The whole team are so supportive and helpful with anything you go to them with and nothing ever seems like too much trouble.

We appreciate fostering can be challenging. What have been some of the highs and lows?

Sometimes it can be incredibly restrictive or isolating and you feel like your own life gets put on hold to help these young mums, but the positives always outweigh the negatives. I have been very lucky so far and always managed to strike up a good working relationship with the mums. When it’s time for them to leave they are always so grateful and appreciative of the opportunity they have been given and very thankful for everything I do, which is such a rewarding feeling.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming a foster carer?

Research the reality of fostering; it isn’t always sunshine and daisies. Fostering can be incredibly challenging, but brings such a rewarding feeling that I believe would be hard to find doing anything else. That is what makes those difficult days beyond worthwhile - seeing the difference you are making to young people’s lives and giving them a second chance for the best start that every child and young person deserves.

Nexus Fostering, which has a local office in Lolworth is looking for more foster carers. Carers should enjoy being around children, have patience and resilience, and a spare room to provide a safe nurturing space for a child. Find out more at nexusfostering.co.uk

* Felicia's full name has not been used to protect the privacy of those she fosters

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