Parent-child fostering is a specialist type of foster care that involves taking both a parent and child into your home, offering them a safe and secure environment and guidance and support with childcare. Typically lasting around 12 weeks, this kind of placement requires specific training and can be an intense yet gratifying experience.
The demands of this kind of fostering are pretty different from other kinds of foster care. Here are five things you probably didn’t realize about parent-child foster care.
While parent-child foster care often involves a young mother and her baby, it could equally be a father and baby, or both a father and a mother and their baby.
Similarly, parent-child fostering can involve children of all ages and sometimes more than one child. Foster carers may need to accommodate and offer assistance and support to the entire family.
2. There Are Three Types of Parent-Child Fostering
Pre-birth placements are when a carer helps a mother prepare for the birth of her child, supporting her as she develops the skills necessary for taking care of a baby when it arrives.
A parenting support placement is when a parent needs help providing care for their child and a safe place to live.
This may have an element of observation and evaluation, too, in which case it is known as an assessment placement. Suppose a court decides they need further information about the parent’s ability to care for their child. In that case, a foster carer will observe the parent, providing feedback to help determine what happens to them after the placement.
If the placement involves an assessment, the foster carer will observe and monitor the parent and submit written reports of the parent’s progress, creating a clearer picture of their ability to look after their child.
The foster carer will be trained in observational skills and taught how to record details without being too intrusive.
While the ultimate goal of parent-child fostering is for the parent to take full responsibility for childcare, they may need support with this at the beginning.
For mother-baby placements, this may involve help with night feeds. While the baby will typically sleep in the same room as the parent, this may change if the parent is considered a risk.
The role of parent-child foster carers is to offer advice and assistance and teach the parent how to handle childcare responsibilities.
These skills may range from cooking, cleaning, and laundry to putting furniture together, handling money and making budgets, and applying for government benefits. You might accompany them to the doctors or grocery store, or you might go with them on a fun family day out. For example, a foster carer in Bromley could find themselves helping a family bond on a day trip to London to see the sights.
Foster carers also learn when they should get involved and when to step back. The aim is always to allow the parent to develop confidence in their abilities.
While not without its challenges, fostering a child and their parent—providing a nurturing environment where they can learn to attend to their child’s needs—has the potential to help vulnerable parents find their feet, develop their childcare skills, and keep their family together.
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