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“I love the satisfaction that comes with looking after mums and their babies”

A trio of ‘parent and child’ foster carers have come together during Foster Care Fortnight (Monday 8th – Sunday 21st May) to tell their story and encourage others to consider this rewarding career.

Lesley fosters for Five Rivers alongside her two daughters Dominique and Roxanna. They specialise in parent and child placements – looking after mothers and their young children and helping them remain together as a family unit.

Lesley, who has three grown-up children of her own and still works part-time as a driving instructor, was encouraged into fostering by her eldest daughter, Dominique, after the unexpected loss of husband John in 2013.

Lesley said: “Fostering was something John and I were considering before he passed away so I wanted to continue his legacy and give it a try. We’d seen the difference Dominique makes to the lives of the children and young people she fosters and, having raised three children, I felt I had the experience to help me give something back too.”

Not long after Lesley began fostering with Five Rivers she undertook the specific training to take on parent and child placements, something there is a real shortage of across the UK.

Lesley continues: “I love the satisfaction that comes with looking after mums and their babies, my job is to help them become more independent in looking after their children and to give them a shot at being a real family unit. The mums who come to stay with me are from all types of backgrounds, some have escaped abusive relationships, others have mental health issues and I’ve had quite a few youngsters under 18 with their little ones. Some stay for the minimum three month placement but I’ve had others with me for up to 10 months.

“The youngest baby I’ve looked after was just seven days old and the care I provide can be anything from taking on most of the responsibility for the child, even having very young babies sleep in my bedroom with me, to just keeping a watching eye over both mother and child and being ready to step in if my help is needed. It is so lovely to see them grow into their roles as mothers during their time with me and I’m happy to say the majority of the placements I’ve had so far remain together and move on to more independent accommodation.”

Such is the love for fostering in the family that now, youngest daughter Roxanna, has also become a foster carer, following in Lesley’s footsteps and taking on parent and child placements.

Lesley, Dominique and Roxanna are shining examples of a foster carers who have done an incredible amount to help looked after children and their mothers across the South and East of England.

Foster Care Fortnight is an important reminder that there is currently a huge shortage of foster carers across the UK. People from all walks of life can become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age, including single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation:   all may be eligible – the only requirement is a spare room for each foster child.

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