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Focus on foster care: parent & child foster care

Monday 25 October 2021

What is parent and child foster care?

Sometimes parents need extra help to build up their confidence in looking after their children. This is where parent and child foster carers come in. Parent and child fostering is normally, although not always, short-term (usually 12-26 weeks) with the aim of helping parents develop their parenting skills in a supportive family environment. It differs from other types of fostering in that both the child and their parent (sometimes both parents) are cared for in the foster home.

“We have worked with newborns who have come straight from the maternity ward with mum (or with mum and dad) to mums with two toddlers. We have one year-long placement with three siblings aged three, eight and 11 and one placement with a 16 year-old college student”

– Graham and Moira.

Why do we need parent and child foster care?

There can be many reasons why some parents lack confidence in their ability to care for their children, particularly in the case of newborns. They might have gaps in their own knowledge and experience or have limited experience of normal family life. Some parents might be struggling with their own challenges (such as trauma, domestic abuse or substance misuse) and sometimes parents with disabilities or learning difficulties may also struggle to look after their children. Parent and child foster carers offer gentle encouragement, support and role-modelling to help parents overcome their disadvantages and feel confident in their ability to parent.

What does it take to be a parent and child foster carer?

It takes a special type of person to be a parent and child foster carer because you are not only looking after the child but also the parent(s). There is a fine balance between allowing the parent(s) to do things for themselves (under your guidance) while also ensuring that the child is safe and well cared-for. While placements may be quite short in duration, they are often intense and you will need to be on hand to provide support at any time of the day or night, especially with newborns. There can be a lot riding on a parent and child placement as the outcome may help to decide whether the child remains with their parent(s) or not and this can bring added pressures.

We look for particular skills and experience in parent and child fostering and you will need to have previously fostered or supported a parent or parents with high needs to care for their child. Certain professionals, including health officers, midwives, nursery workers, police officers and those working in health or social care, may be particularly well-suited but you don’t need to have had children yourself to become a parent and child foster carer.

What training and support do parent and child foster carers receive?

Our foster carers receive a generous package of pay and allowances, plus perks and benefits to help the household budget go further.

We offer free specialist training to give everyone the skills and confidence they need to support vulnerable young people. This begins with our foundation Skills to Foster programme and includes a whole range of specialist training courses, some of which are mandatory and some of which foster carers can opt to undertake.

All foster carers have regular contact with their supervising social worker and the support of their wider local team, including therapeutic care professionals, psychologists and more. Carer support groups add to the feeling that you’ve got a strong, supportive family at your back.

How long will it take to be approved as a parent and child foster carer?

It normally takes around four months to become approved as a foster carer because the process is very detailed and thorough. However, with more than 8,000 children nationally waiting for foster carers, National Fostering Group has pioneered a way of getting certain carers approved faster. This fast-track fostering process can take as little as two months in some cases. It isn’t about cutting corners, but using online and virtual platforms, prompt checks and more intensive meeting schedules to achieve faster approvals.

Read about Moira and Graham’s experience

Moira and Graham have been parent and child foster carers for 10 years. This type of fostering appealed to Moira as she’d worked as a nurse and midwife and had first-hand experience of caring for babies who were addicted to drugs. Moira and Graham’s advice to would-be foster carers is

“Do it. It is hard work and there are tough times but these are overridden by the joy of having children and helping children. I would recommend our fostering agency [National Foster Agency South West]”

Read Moira and Graham’s fostering story.

Want to become a parent and child foster carer?

Being a parent and child foster carer is rewarding and varied. If you’re interested in finding out more contact your local team for an informal chat.

Find out if you could be a foster carer
Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.