Caring for babies and young children is demanding and often stressful, and many parents are glad when the days of sleepless nights, endless nappies and toddler tantrums are behind them. But Cuckfield foster carer Monica Bayliss is more than happy to revolve her life around the demands of young children and looks forward to every new arrival. Since becoming a foster carer in 1990, Monica has looked after more than 70 babies and young children, aged from just a few days old to 11 years. In the hallway of the Bayliss home in Wheatsheaf Lane, a baby buggy awaits its next occupant as Monica never knows when the phone will ring and another child will arrive.
By Claire Cooper
Monica explained how it all started. “I’d always wanted more children of my own but that didn’t happen, so I decided the next best thing was to look after other people’s!” she said. “My own three children were growing up, one had left home and I had a spare room.” Monica applied to become a foster carer through West Sussex County Council and, after completing the selection process and training, was approved to look after children aged from 0 to 6. The selection process included all family members being interviewed separately, to ensure everyone understood how fostering children can affect a family. Fortunately, Monica has always had the full support of husband Bob and children John, Antonia and Stephen. “We all muck in and enjoy it,” she said. After being approved, it wasn’t long before the first children arrived. “They were a family of three who arrived for a week while their mother received respite care,” said Monica.
“The first time was quite stressful, the second less so, but by the third I was starting to enjoy it more and more.” Children can arrive at the family home at any hour of the day or night, often at very short notice. “In the early days, I had several children who were travelling with adults who had been detained at Gatwick Airport,” said Monica. “The children were taken into care immediately after flying into the country and detained by immigration. The first one I looked after was a little Polish girl who had flown in with her father.
Read full article on pages 20/21.