So what’s actually involved in being a parent and child foster carer?

First, the practical stuff. It’s not just a baby or child you’re looking after, you’ll have a young adult staying with you in your home too. You definitely need space to accommodate them. A bedroom, ideally their own bathroom, a fridge in their room or at least a shelf in the fridge plus their own kitchen cupboard.

With that in mind, if you’re thinking of fostering a parent and child, it’s better to foster if your own children have grown up and moved out of home.

In terms of your skills, Brighter Futures for Children’s Independent Fostering Agency (BFfC IFA) will provide training specifically around parent and child fostering. This takes place after you go through the assessment process to become a foster carer.

Part of the process of fostering a parent and child is for you to monitor and record your observations about the parent with their child. This contributes to our assessment of the family and helps identify other support services, if any, are needed.

Maggie and Mike, who have had a number of parent and child placements, say:

‘You have to remember not to just jump in and do everything for the baby. You’ve got to empathise and understand that you’re trying to teach the parent how to look after them. They may not necessarily do everything in the same way that you would, but you help them to get up to a good standard of parenting.

‘It can be hard as you do have to highlight any negatives with what they’re doing, but I try to give lots of positive reinforcement around that, like: “You’re so good at understanding what your baby needs. You’re really improving with this, although I do need to remind you to do ‘that’ occasionally though.”

‘You need to be really patient, kind and just keep trying. If you’ve been a parent to your first newborn, you’ll know how difficult it is! Sometimes the parent can be quite young themselves so, in a way, it feels a bit like having two foster children, but you have to allow them to take responsibility.’

At Brighter Futures for Children, we think parent and child fostering is a brilliant thing to do. It’s a great way to give families a real opportunity to stay together, which is the ultimate goal, where it is safe to do so.

If you need any extra encouragement to apply, Maggie says:

‘It is a lovely opportunity to give someone the chance to see how a child should be brought up. Sadly, some people haven’t experienced how a baby or child should be treated, if it wasn’t done for them or their siblings and they just don’t know how to do it. But you can show them, in a safe environment, and be around to help if there is a problem. It’s such a worthwhile thing to do.’

Get in touch here if you would like to get involved with fostering.