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What is parent and child fostering and how to get involved?

Foster carers of all shapes and sizes (so to speak) are constantly in need. The number of children entering the care system is rising at a frightening pace. We’re always looking for both experienced and new foster carers to join the Five Rivers team. We know every great foster carer has to start somewhere and we think Five Rivers is the perfect place to start your fostering journey. If you’ve been giving some thought to fostering lately, it might be worth considering if you could be a good fit for parent and child foster care.

So, what is parent and child foster care? Well, it’s a specialist type of fostering in which a parent and child (normally a mother and baby / young child) come to stay with you for extra support and guidance. Your role is to assess the parent’s ability to care for their child and report back to your social worker on their progress and any potential risks you’ve identified.

There are a number of reasons parents can find themselves in need of additional support; it could be that they are a teenage or young mum with a limited or non-existent familial support system, or that they have a disability that impacts their ability to parent or it might be that they have previously had a child removed from their care. It’s worth noting that placing a parent and child in foster care together is a last resort before removing the child from the parent’s care. That’s why the foster carer’s role is so crucial. You’ll be evaluating their practical and emotional skills as a parent and your feedback will help determine whether the child will be safe in their permanent care. Where possible, we always want a child to be able to stay with their birth parents, but only if it is the best outcome for the child.

From a practical point of view, your role as a foster carer will be incredibly varied and will involve supporting the parent take on everyday parenting tasks; from establishing routines and developing good feeding habits to attending health visitor appointments and navigating sleep deprivation. This might involve nappy changes, making up bottles, sterilising baby equipment and undoubtedly some sleepless nights.

You’ll be consistently observing the parent and monitoring their relationship with the child; are they in tune with their emotional and physical needs? Are they able to stick to a suitable routine in terms of feeding, naptimes etc. Are they leaving the child for substantial periods of time? Regular reporting on the situation and any developments or concerns will be integral to evaluating whether the child will remain in the parent’s care. This will be reviewed at weekly meetings with your supporting social worker who will be on hand throughout the whole placement to provide you with guidance and feedback.

The main aim of parent and child foster care is to ultimately keep families together but not to the detriment of the child’s health and wellbeing.

Find out more about parent and child foster care by speaking with one of our recruitment team.  You can book a call back here.

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