When we speak to people about becoming foster carers, many have not heard about parent & child fostering, also known as a mother & baby placement (although can be father and baby). Some think it is about providing housing and some support to a struggling parent, but it is so much more.
Parent & child (P&C) fostering is a type of fostering where vulnerable parents can be supported alongside their children within a foster family. This usually involves placing a baby or child, along with either one or both parents, in a foster home where they can learn to cope with parenthood in safe and secure environment. In many cases are young, first time parents, whilst others may be older parents that may have previously had a child removed from their care, or have other difficulties, and need guidance and support.
As parent & child fostering is a specialist, assessment-based type of fostering it does require you to work as part of a team with social workers and other professionals, so you will also attend specific training, in addition to the regular assessment process, to enable to undertake this type of placement.
What are the benefits of parent and child fostering?
Parent & child fostering brings with it benefits for both the child and parents involved. Firstly, the child or infant benefits from being in a stable family environment and parent (usually the mother) gains invaluable emotional support as well as learning the skills required for parenthood, such as how to hold or feed a baby. Parents may also have the opportunity to carry on with their studies and complete schooling with the extra support provided.
What is required of a parent and child foster carer?
On a practical level you need to have a bedroom large enough to have a bed for parent, cot for baby, wardrobe, chest of drawers etc., as well as suitable toys and other baby equipment. The parent will need to have access to a bathroom, laundry, and cooking facilities.
However foster carers also need to have a broad range of skills and qualities, including being a great listener, having a good sense of humor, being optimistic, having their feet firmly on the ground and showing resilience. They must also be able to offer the time, commitment, space, and skills to care for parents who are struggling to care for their young children. These include:
- The ability to treat new parents with sensitivity
- Assertiveness and the confidence to lead by example
- Observational skills and the willingness to observe and record how the parent looks after the child, whilst being unobtrusive
- Patience and encouragement when passing on advice and parenting skills
Foster carers stay in close communication with the supporting social worker and are expected to contribute to reviews and meetings to report on the progress of the placement.
By providing a consistent support network the aim is that the child and parent are given the best possible chance to grow and develop in a nurturing environment.
How do I find out more?
If you would like to find out more about becoming a parent & child foster carer, please get in contact with our friendly team where no question is a silly question 😊. For more information we also have available:
- A recording of a recent parent & child webinar, which gives lots of information about this type of placement. Here is the video link (please copy and paste into browser): https://vimeo.com/478362327
- Comments made by our foster carers about the challenging but rewarding task of parent & child foster placements, so you don’t just have to take our word for it and have a read below!
- Young parents have also shared their experiences and how being in a parent & child foster placement helped them gain new skills and confidence. Please also read their comments further down, and hopefully they will inspire you to consider giving other young parents the same opportunity to flourish.
What Our Foster Carers Say
What first attracted me to P&C placements was the fact that I had successfully grown up my 5 children by myself and don’t get me wrong sometimes it was a struggle, not only juggling work, school as well as making sure that my children were safe at all times and staying on the right path, but seeing so many young ladies, still children themselves, having babies and having no support behind them was so heart breaking.
Although I was already a foster carer, I decided that a lot of these young ladies needed motherly help to not only help them but give them that kind of love and support that only a mother can give to show them – that someone cares enough to help them keep their child. I’ve had many P&C placements and have had many mothers going home with their child because I showed them that no matter how hard things are, they can succeed.
My expectations of having another adult in our home and having to not only tell them how to do things the right way, but to show them without taking over to much, however also allowing them to try and be a mother at first, was at first a difficult task. It had it challenges but setting boundaries from the start helped me to manage.
What I felt was the most rewarding is seeing the young person succeed and leave with their child, knowing that I had given them that sense of belonging and giving them a chance to prove that they can be good parents.
The most difficult and frustrating aspects of the placement was trying to help a mother who failed, to try and help themselves, but no matter how much you tried to show them to right way, they just wanted to give up and walk away from their child and not come back and try. I always remined them not on my watch.
One of the most heart-warming aspects for me is seeing a parent leave our home and return to let you know how much they appreciated the help and guidance that you gave them to make the right choices for them and their child.
For me there is nothing that I would do any differently, just show them that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that you can make it.”
Gloria & Ronald, Foster Carers
“The things that attracted us to taking a P&C placement is enabling us to teach the parent in growing their love, and development for the child, by us using our own personal experiences.
Expectations are that you would think that the parent would know how to look after their child and to take their responsibility. However, this is always not the case they may have very little experience and may need a lot of signposting.
The most rewarding aspect of the placement was to see the bond of the parent and child continue to grow stronger, especially in your own home in a placement, and to see the child in a safe environment. Also, to be a mentor for them is a great honour. The challenges are there but the rewards are definitely even greater.”
Zarlish & Afzal, Foster Carers
“When I started fostering five years ago, I fostered teenagers from age 16+ and all went well – apart from a couple of them. Then I had parent a child training, and soon after I had my first mother and baby placement. The reason I become more interested in mother and child was that I looked after my own brothers, my nephews and niece from the very young age, most of them were from newborn including my own son.
My expectation of parent and child placement was to look after babies only, but I have learnt from my experience is to look after both mother and baby. As most mums do not have the knowledge and expertise to raise a child and most of them didn’t get a chance to learn from their families. My first mother and baby placement encouraged me to continue with mother and baby placements only.
In addition to this the country where I came from having a child before marriage was not acceptable in the society. As a result, many young girls died because of abortion for not getting the right support from their families or from the government. Now, supporting new mums who do not have family support gives me mental satisfaction, especially when they learn things from me and move back to the society to start their own independent life.
So far, I’ve had 10 mother and baby placements. I feel proud and very happy if the ending is positive which most of them are. Fostering mother and child is incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. The most frustrating part is when mums are not willing to go by the rules and get involved in bad habits with wrong crowd.
Also, the support I get from all UK Fostering social workers is great. Without their support and guidance, I wouldn’t be able to help mothers and babies. “
Tsige, Foster Carer
“When we received the phone call about a possible mother and baby placement I was over the moon! As it turned out, a later call added dad to the placement, so it turned out that we had a ‘parents and child’ placement.
The first evening after all the social workers and support staff left was lovely, we all got a takeaway and had a chat about how everyone was feeling and got to know each other a little. All went wonderfully for the first 6 weeks, and we built a really close bond with mum, dad, and baby. We talked through any concerns and gave advice when needed. We tried to make our home as much like an extended family as we could. We went on family days out, went shopping together, found local baby groups to attend and ate together.
We would chat about parenting and why we do certain things, as well as past and future aspirations. I could see that mum and dad loved their baby and, with some guidance, were being great parents. This was a really positive aspect of our placement, building that bond, watching the progress of learning good parenting skills, and in turn baby making great developmental progress.”
Kelly & Dan, Foster Carers
“We’d always known we’d foster one day, we were married aged 20 & 22 years, and had our third and final baby aged 22 & 24 years. Fostering was on the cards from our teenage years, and we were approved as foster carers aged 24 & 26 years.
Although I had concerns, or at times worried, about how I’d juggle additional children with differing needs I knew we’d make it work however difficult it could be. In our 2.5 years fostering we’re proud to have cared for a teenager who is now with us long term, along with a mother and baby who are also long term, and an additional mum and baby who are now settled in their own place.
Being young parents ourselves has meant we firmly believe that young parents should be given a chance to grow into successful parents, and that age doesn’t define your ability to be a parent.
Having younger children has meant that my recent experience and knowledge has been used daily whilst caring for mums and babies, and I hope that our birth children will grow with compassion and understanding for others that hopefully will be taken with them on the journey for the rest of their lives. The age gaps of the children we have cared for have been invaluable in making sure everybody’s needs have been met, as the level of care each individual child needs has been entirely different.
A recent highlight has been seeing a mum I had previously looked after, move from her semi-independent placement to her own tenancy in the community. This was nice for our family.”
Katie & James, Foster Carers
“We welcomed our first Mum & Baby (with toddler!) placement from August to October. The experience was such a positive and rewarding, albeit tiring, one but confirmed our decision to look after M&B to be the right one. Some of the positive were:
- Great support from our Supervising Social Worker
- Able to teach Mum some of the skills of motherhood and looking after the children in a safe and nurturing way
- Seeing results by the children developing both educationally and emotionally
- Seeing the original support required at the start of the placement reduce, and Mum managing more independently
- Successfully keeping the family together, which was the right result
- Interacting with various professionals also involved with the case and learning from them”
Gill & Jimmy, Foster Carers
What Our Young Parents Say
“Dear T, you are amazing at what you do, I can’t thank you enough for bringing me such a long way. You have helped me in so many ways and I can’t thank you enough for all the help and support you and R have given me.
And look, we had our differences, but you truly have helped me so much on becoming a better person and a better mother. There is no way of showing how thankful I am for that, and the progress L has made in the last 9 months.
It’s amazing to see how much you and R have done for us and how much you have put up with”
C, aged 19 years
“K&J care about me and L. K&J are supportive and really push me to achieve with my education. They have put an incentive in place for every 4 that I get in my GSCEs, I get £25. This helped push me especially as I have been out of education for a long time due to having a baby”
S, aged 16 years
“How happy are you with your Foster Family – 5/5 😊
Any other comments: Overall happy, have been supported well through a difficult time in my life. Grateful for their support.”
T, aged 24 years
“You’ve completely changed my life. I don’t know where I would be without you. Thank you for everything.”
S, aged 17 years
“I learnt a lot from my placement with you. You always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, and I’ll always be forever grateful for your support. I love and miss you all ❤️”
M, aged 17 years