Parent & child
These specialist foster carers support and care for both a parent and his/her young child, who live with the foster carer in their home.
The role is one of support, advice and assessment in close liaison with the child’s social worker and your own supervising social worker. There may be requests for placements for mother and child, father and child or both parents and their child. This is a scheme that may be suitable for someone who is home based and can give practical and emotional support to young families to help them stay together where possible.
Geoff & Emma served in the Royal Air Force before moving on to foster. They have fostered many children during their time as carer, but also have experience as Parent & Child foster carer. Here they talk about a 'typical day' in Parent & Child fostering. Though Geoff & Emma talk about their experience of supporting a single mother or father, it's more common to support both parents and their child.
You can watch their full interview here on the 'Meet our carers' page of the website.
What is a parent and child foster placement?
As this type of foster carer, you would be part of the family assessment and support team (FA&ST) - a specialist parent and child fostering team. FA&ST foster carers provide support and guidance to parent(s) and their baby or young child up to the age of four in a nurturing and stable family-based environment to ensure the child is safe and protected from harm.
The foster carer offers parents guidance and support to appropriately care for their child(ren). The carer will model where needed and assist parents with bridging any gaps in their knowledge or experience. Parent and child placements are usually subject to care proceedings. There may be concerns about parenting, or physical or mental health, unstable relationships, or perhaps a learning difficulty that may affect their ability to care for their child.
FA&ST is a multi-disciplinary team made up of:
- Supervising social worker, who supports the foster carers
- Assessing social workers and senior social work assistant, who undertake the parenting assessment
The team work closely together to support the foster carers, parents and child which means there is consistent communication and support is provided promptly if there are any difficulties within a placement. Occasionally, for example if a specialist assessment is required, an independent social worker would undertake the parenting assessment.
The role of the foster carer
The foster carer is there to provide supervision and guidance to develop the parents’ ability to care for their child. Within a FA&ST placement, the parent is responsible for the care of their child. The foster carer would not be expected to step in unless there was a serious concern about the parents’ care of the child.
The role of a FA&ST carer is intensive but also rewarding. Initially a parent is provided with a high level of support and guidance from the foster carer, including during night-time care, to ensure the child is safe in their parents’ care. Depending on the progress of the parent during the assessment, the level of guidance and oversight will steadily reduce to enable them to demonstrate how they would be able to parent if living in the community.
The foster carer will complete daily records of their observations. These will be shared with parents and the FA&ST to help inform the parenting assessment by providing an insight into the child’s daily experience of the parenting they receive.
The duration of a FA&ST placement can vary depending on the recommendation of the parenting assessment and/or care proceedings, which can be up to 26 weeks. If a parenting assessment recommends it is safe for the parent to care for their child, the foster carer would support them to return to the community. If there were safeguarding concerns, then the child (alone or with parents) may remain in placement until a decision is made about who could safely care for the child.
What we offer Parent & Child FA&ST carers
- Monthly supervision, increased to fortnightly when a parent is being assessed
- 5 hours day care per week to allow the foster carers to have a break from the placement
- 6 weeks per year when a fostering retainer fee (£450) is paid to allow a break between placements
- Bi-monthly foster carer support groups
- Tailored FA&ST training for foster carers and the team, 6 times per year, which has included: parental mental health, substance and alcohol misuse, the impact of withdrawal of babies and young children, the impact of emotional transference, impact of domestic abuse on children
FA&ST foster carers are paid a weekly retainer payment of £463.59, which is received
- when they have a placement
- if they are available to take a placement
- during their 6 weeks of planned break.
Foster carers will also receive an allowance for each parent and child in placement, paid weekly, in addition to their £454.50 fee payment mentioned above. Allowances are as follows:
Weekly allowance received for the child, aged 0-4 years £154.69
Weekly allowance received for single parent aged 16+ £266.85
Additional weekly payment received for a second parent 16+ £179.78
So for example, a foster carer caring for a child and single parent would receive the following weekly payments:
Weekly fee paid to foster carer: £463.59
Weekly allowance paid to foster carer to cover the cost of caring for the child: £154.69
Weekly allowance paid to foster carer to cover costs of parent (food etc...): £266.85
Total: £885.13 per week
A foster carer who had both parents and the child living with them would receive all the above payments, plus an additional weekly allowance payment of £266.85, and additional weekly fee of £179.78 for the second parent.
Total: £1331.76 per week
Who could be a FA&ST parent and child foster carer?
Due to the intensity of a FA&ST placement the main carer (or sole carer) would need to be available full time to foster once they are approved. Carers will need qualities including resilience and determination, good levels of self-awareness and the ability to reflect. You would require a fostering bedroom that is large enough for the parent or parents and their baby/child.
We are looking for carers who can build a relationship to work compassionately and respectfully with parents to support them to develop their parenting. Carers will need to communicate effectively and sensitively with parents, including being able to adapt their approach or interaction to support parents’ individual needs. This requires carers who can respond calmly to sensitive, unexpected or emotional situations and are able to challenge when required.
Carers need to have good communication skills and be able to work co-operatively with the team and the child’s social worker. They will need to provide clear, accurate and factual written observations and be able to communicate verbally with professionals.
Carers need an understanding of babies and young children’s needs and development in order to model and support a parent to care for their child, this could be from personal or professional experience.
FA&ST carers would benefit from having an understanding or previous experience of working with parents who have had parental difficulties. Professions which have transferable skills include, health professionals (midwifes, health visitors, nurses), education (nursery or school support workers or teachers) or working within services supporting adults (domestic abuse, mental health, adult social care). However, FA&ST carers do not need to live in Somerset, and can live within areas of neighbouring Local Authorities. For example, we have several FA&ST carers who live in Devon.
If you're interested in becoming a FA&ST Parent and Child foster carer, please contact our team today on 0800 587 9900 or fill out the enquiry form here.