Parent-Child Fostering: A Brief Introduction
21st June 2021
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Parent-child fostering is a specialist type of fostering that sees foster carers provide support to vulnerable parents and their children. At Anchor, we specialise in placing parents and children in safe, suitable and nurturing environments throughout the country, including in Birmingham, where we currently have a desperate shortage of parent-child foster carers.

Parents and children come to stay with carers to learn how to handle parenthood in a secure environment and receive guidance from experienced parental figures. With the overall goal of keeping the parent and child together, carers can get these families off to the best start possible. 

Being a parent presents challenges for everyone. But for those without a support network or understanding of what positive parenting looks like, these challenges are even more significant. Parent-child foster carers offer a nurturing and warm environment where a parent can learn to take care of their child safely.

While parent-child fostering is often a case of looking after a mother and child, it can take other forms. Carers might support the father, mother, and their child—or the child’s siblings too. The age of the parent can also vary, as can that of the child. The diversity and complexity of the role means foster carers often need to undertake additional training before a placement.


Types of Parent-Child Fostering

There are three different kinds of parent-child placements.

Pre-birth placements are for pregnant women to help them prepare for the birth and their new role as mothers, as well as to develop their understanding of what the baby will need.

In parenting support placements, the emphasis is on supporting and helping the parent rather than assessing them.

Assessment placements are when a court has decided a parent’s ability to care for their child needs to be evaluated. In these placements, foster carers contribute to the assessment process, as well as offering support.

Why Might a Parent Need to be Fostered with Their Child?

Sometimes parents have difficulty looking after children by themselves. This could be for a range of reasons.

Many mothers or fathers are dealing with the trauma of domestic abuse or drug addiction. Others are very young and struggling with the responsibilities of parenthood. In other cases, the parents have their own specific needs, including mental health conditions or learning disabilities.

Often, these parents have been victims of difficult childhoods themselves and have no role models when it comes to childcare. They need examples of positive parenting and help identifying and taking care of their child’s practical and emotional needs.


What is the Role of the Foster Carer?

In a parent-child placement, a foster carer’s responsibilities include: 

  • Helping parents develop the skills needed to take care of their child. Foster carers teach parents how to recognise their child’s needs and attend to them safely.
  • Promoting a secure and loving attachment between parent and child.
  • Encouraging parents and building their self-esteem, so they feel more confident in their parenting abilities.
  • Contributing to the assessment process by observing and monitoring the parent, recording their progress or areas for improvement, and attending weekly meetings with social workers.
  • Providing a bedroom and storage space for the parent, child, and their belongings and a warm and welcoming environment where they feel secure.
  • Daily supervision of tasks such as feeding, bathing, and weaning. In the beginning, this may mean 24-hour supervision, but the goal is for the parent to take control of all parenting tasks.
  • Practical support including accompanying the parent to parent-baby groups, the health clinic, or the supermarket.
  • Sharing household skills such as laundry, cooking, and cleaning, as well as general life and social skills.
  • Teaching the parent how to manage money, make budgets, and claim benefits.

Being a foster carer to a parent and their child offers individuals the chance to make a substantial positive impact. By creating the optimum environment for a parent and child’s relationship to flourish, and by guiding and supporting someone as they learn to be a parent, you can play a pivotal role in their future happiness and well-being.

Could you offer safety, stability a support for a parent and child family who need it? Please contact our recruitment team now to ask any questions you may have about the role.

Anchor Foster Care Providing Safety, Stability & Hope. Anchor Foster Care is a family run, independent, not-for-profit organisation proactively working to provide the right kind of care and support to children and young people in our care.

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