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What is parent and child foster care, and is it right for your family?

Overview: An introduction to parent and child foster care. We will explore why parents and babies need fostering, the foster carer’s role and how long parent and child foster placements last. We will also examine the foster payment system and what foster parents get paid. There are also prompts to consider if parent and child fostering is right for you.

What is a parent and child foster placement?

Parent and child fostering is a role where those who want to make a difference can really have an impact. This specialist type of fostering means a child and their parent(s) will come and stay with you in your home. The idea is that the parent benefits from your compassion, support and guidance while they work on their parenting skills. They will build confidence in their parenting ability in a welcoming and stable environment. This hope is they will go on to safely care for the baby or child alone.

Parent and child foster care is usually put in place as a last resort with the hope of helping children remain with their parents. If you choose to become a parent and child foster carer, part of your role will be to work with the family’s social worker to help them decide what happens next. If the parent is undergoing assessment, you’ll chat with the social worker regularly about how they’re doing, how their emotional and practical parenting skills are developing, and any challenges. You’ll need to pass on details of any safeguarding concerns or risks. To do this in an informed way, you’ll observe interactions between parent and child and help with the day-to-day care of the baby or child. 

Why is parent and child foster care needed?

The children that come into this type of fostering aren’t always newborns or little ones, although most often, they are. Parents who need this type of fostering can be either gender and aged from adolescent to adult.

Some common types of parent and child foster placements are:

  • Mother and baby fostering involves a mother and one or more babies coming to stay with you. Sometimes a mum might have escaped an abusive relationship or be struggling with mental health issues and need extra support. Or they might be disabled, young or vulnerable in other ways and have no family support system. 
  • Pregnant and parenting youth in foster care is another common type of parent and child fostering. In these instances, a young or teenage mum-to-be will stay with a foster carer while pregnant. Once their baby arrives, the foster carer will help the mum look after the baby and teach the practical and emotional parenting skills they need to be a loving, safe and responsible parent who can parent on their own.
  • Foster care for children and parents can involve older children and dads too. Mothers with older children can come into foster care together, needing support and guidance. And sometimes circumstances mean that a dad needs to develop their parenting skills to look after their baby or little one alone or alongside mum as a family group. 

How long is a mother and baby foster placement?

A mother and baby foster placement is usually at least 12 weeks long. This is the typical length of the assessment period to observe and decide if the mother develops skills for safe and effective parenting. Sometimes a placement will last longer. For example, if a parent has made significant progress but needs support in a specific area or while waiting for a court hearing. Parent and child placements may also be shorter in length. Depending on circumstances, they could last a few weeks. For example, if a mum is suffering from physical or mental health issues and needs some temporary help.

Do you get paid for fostering a child?

We know that many people choose to leave their jobs or reduce their work hours to focus on fostering and meeting the needs of the children in their care. We review our benefits package annually to ensure it correctly supports foster carers. Along with a highly-competitive fostering allowance complete with generous tax relief, additional funds are typically available to help with other expenses such as holidays, birthdays and Christmas. Parent and child fostering is a highly-skilled type of fostering, which requires specialist training. Our parent and child foster carers receive a higher fostering allowance in recognition of this. 

What do foster parents get paid?

As an independent fostering agency and social enterprise, the rate we pay our foster carers often differs from those who work for the local authority. According to foster carers in the UK usually receive a minimum of between £137 and £240 a week. 

Fostering allowance is subject to generous tax relief called qualifying care relief. Foster carers within the Five Rivers fostering family receive a fostering allowance in the region of £28,000 per year, with tax-free benefits. 

The allowance is set at a higher level for parent and child foster carers, and our current rates for parent and child fostering start at £870 per week.  

Is parent and child fostering right for you and your family?

Empathy, patience and energy in equal measures, are essential for parent and child fostering, along with good observation and communication skills. A true necessity for parent and child fostering is a strong sense of purpose to make a difference to the lives of the parent and children you’ll support when they need it most. 

When you apply for parent and child fostering, we’ll provide you with specialist training to prepare you to help the vulnerable and often young parents you’ll work with. So you won’t always need to have been a parent or foster carer before, though it can certainly help. And if you’ve provided care and nurture in other roles such as being a midwife, teacher, health visitor or social worker, you’ll have lots of transferable skills to bring to the role, too. 

Welcoming a parent and child into your home makes a real impact on your day-to-day family life. If you already have children who live with you, you’ll need to ensure they’re comfortable taking the step too. This is something we can help you with as a family during the application process. You can also read more about parent and child fostering on our dedicated web page. 

To prepare you for parent and child fostering, Five Rivers offers 24/7support, specialist training and professional consultation. Could you make a difference and potentially help families remain together? You can request a call from the Five Rivers recruitment team here to learn more about starting your fostering journey with Five Rivers.


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