Parent and Child foster placements are a very special type of fostering placement. The placement provides mum or dad with a great opportunity to learn how to parent their child and give them the skills, knowledge, and confidence to live a successful safe and fulfilled life with their baby.
Who are the parents?
Most placements are for young mothers who have either experienced poor parenting themselves, have been in care, are victims of domestic abuse or have mental health issues. Many will not have the benefit of a supportive family and they may well suffer from low self-esteem and motivation.
What is the role of a Parent and Child foster carer?
The role of the carer is to provide a healthy environment for both parent and child to grow. This is achieved primarily through mentoring and observation.
Young parents who have had a tough start in life sometimes struggle to understand the enormity of caring for a new baby, they will require lots of support and guidance. This could be by helping them identify why a baby is crying, whether it is for comfort, food, a nappy change, or whether they are in distress. Helping the parents understand nutrition and food preparation and creating a stimulating environment for the baby is essential for their growth and development will be one of the key objectives.
Some parents may well be disengaged from the baby and give precedence to watching television, being on their phone or wishing to go out with friends rather than prioritizing the needs of the child, it would be important to encourage a proactive involvement with the child.
Danielle’s Experience with a Parent and Child placement
Our carer Danielle believes that nurture and attachment are the foundations of a successful positive outcome for parent and child foster placements. Her advice is to meet the unmet needs of the parent so they can in turn meet the needs of their baby. She found that at the beginning of her placements taking on daily practicalities such as washing, cooking, cleaning etc to give mum or dad the time to concentrate on feeding and building a strong bond with the baby was paramount, the practical side can be slowly introduced at the right time. Providing a no judgemental narrative with the parent about the baby’s responses and reactions really helps an understanding of the baby’s development.
Danielle found that writing logs together was a good way for both carer and parent to reflect on how they are coping, what they feel they need additional support with and how they are bonding their child.
Challenges and Rewards of Parent and Child fostering placements
We asked Danielle what she found the most challenging and the most rewarding part of her fostering experience with Parent and Child.
“One of the main challenges was managing the expectations of the different agencies involved as it is likely both the parent and child are looked after and ensuring that each agency was communicating and working together towards a common goal. Another consideration is to the relationship of the mother or father’s partner and if there is co-parenting to be considered.”
“I took so much joy from seeing how “T” grew to love her baby and how her baby loved her back”
Danielle and her family are in regular contact with “T” and her growing family, they often babysit and share family days out.
Helping to keep families together can be the most rewarding experience.