Fostering Parent and Baby
Parent and child foster care placements offer a home to a baby or young child together with its parent. The aim of this scheme is to provide a safe, family based placement for parent and baby. It may be that a parent has not had a positive family life and positive input from a foster carer can provide the help a young parent needs with reassurance, guidance and support during a period of considerable change. As a foster carer, you would be helping them to develop their own parenting skills whilst ensuring the child was in a safe, secure and nurturing environment
The foster carer:
- does not necessarily provide parental care (except if required) but helps and encourages the parent to develop their skills.
- foster carer has an important role observing and recording how the parent looks after the child.
Foster carers play a key role in the assessment of parents and their ability to care for their baby, with placements last on average about 12-24 weeks. Foster carers develop skills in this area of work, taking part in assessments and encouraging young parents without taking over their parental responsibilities. Some need more practical help right from the word go - how to hold a baby or feed a baby. Some need more emotional support, some need both.
This kind of fostering placement is often an alternative to a mother and baby unit and usually results from a court referral, but not always. A baby's social worker may make the decision for a parent and child fostering placement, if the parent isn't coping well and needs extra help but doesn't have an extended family. Fostering can offer stability and support, certainly for young women in care who become pregnant or those who get thrown out of the parental home and end up in care because they have become pregnant. The baby benefits from being brought up in a family environment and the young mothers gain tremendously from the support and advice offered by the foster mother. It also enables some teenage mothers to complete their schooling or to have a job.
Parent and child or more likely, mother and baby fostering can be complex and challenging and the foster carer requires skills and qualities such as:
There is a growing need for more foster carers who are interested in looking after young parents most often teenage mothers and their babies. If you are interested in offering a parent and baby placement you will need to gain some experience of fostering first to develop some of the skills you will need for this role.
The Assessment Process
All Parent and Baby foster carers will be assessed as regular foster carers, including criminal background and health checks, and must be able to provide references.