TACT Area Manager Christine and Deputy Area Manager Jo discuss all the ins and outs of Child & Parent fostering.
A Child & Parent placement is a specialist type of fostering (previously known as a mother and baby placement). A parent and their child, often a mother and baby but occasionally a father, will come and stay in your home with you. This is so you can provide them with support and guidance, extra help and advice on how they can safely care for their child, acquiring the skills and knowledge they will need to do this in the future without your support.
These are usually 12-week assessment placements, and an independent parenting assessment (PAM’s) usually takes place in parallel. This is completed by a social worker. The placement can be extended if the Court agrees that the parent should receive more support, or if more time is needed to complete the assessment.
The parent is nearly always vulnerable, perhaps a teenager, who had a difficult childhood – or they have a health condition – and may have been in care themselves. Perhaps they are isolated with little help or support. Some parents have not experienced ‘good parenting’, and so they do not know what that looks like or how to deliver this to their own baby.
Increasingly, there are more cases where the parent has had children removed from their care in the past, but the court has determined that significant life changes have occurred for them to have the opportunity to parent this baby. These mothers are likely to be older and may have been misusing drugs/ alcohol.
In the past, child and parent assessments have been completed fully in residential establishments with staff on rota. This is good for initial assessments, but it was found that being in a home environment enabled the mother/father to see what family life should be like. They are able to form a bond with the carer, as well as the baby forming stronger attachments, which leads to a higher success rate. That’s why there is a need for this kind of foster placement.
Read about Carole’s journey to becoming a Child & Parent foster carer.
Being a Child & Parent foster carer is different from other types of fostering. The biggest difference is that you will have another adult living in your home and this means that you will be negotiating your relationship with them in a different way. These types of placements are also very short lived, often lasting only 12 weeks, and they can be very intense. If the placement is successful, you will have been instrumental in helping them to be the best parent they can be and will see your hard work in practice as the family thrives.
So, are there more requirements to becoming this kind of foster carer? Well, you only need the same range of experience and skills as all other types of foster carer, but in addition your training will include a specific focus on working with parents, child development and adults with additional needs; this could be learning needs, substance misuse or domestic violence. You will be part of a team of professionals all working together to support the parent in learning how to care for their baby. Furthermore, your records are crucial to enabling decisions to be made when the placement ends; so you will be given guidance on how and what to record.
A breakdown of the training and support you’ll have access to includes:
- TACT Child and Parent training course
- Paediatric First Aid
- Working with Vulnerable Adults and parents with Learning Difficulties and mental health problems
- Substance abuse in adults/parents
- Understanding post-natal depression and psychosis
- Record keeping for court
You will also have a dedicated Supervising Social Worker (SSW) and another foster carer who is experienced in Child & Parent fostering as your buddy. Foster Carer Support groups meet monthly which you can attend, and you will also have a foster carer rep to support you.
For some new parents, learning how to be a parent is a huge and difficult challenge – it’s a new world full of new routines, health visitor appointments and lack of sleep (to name but a few). As a foster carer, you will provide a safe place for a vulnerable parent to learn how to safely raise their child and keep the family together. This is a huge and rewarding achievement.
If you or anyone you know could be the right person to do this, please enquire now!