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Fostering child with cat

What is Fostering?

What is parent and child fostering?

Parent and child fostering is a specialist type of fostering where a parent, or both parents, come to stay with you at a time when they need extra support. In some cases, there may be more than one child placed, who may not necessarily be a baby. It could be that the parent(s) and child come to stay with you prior to the baby’s birth or following discharge from hospital. It may however be identified when the baby/child is a little older, that a parent and child provision is required. The parent(s) may be of any age, ranging from a teenager upwards. It could be that this is their first child, or they may have had a number of children previously. 

​Why do parents require support?

There are a number of reasons why a parent and child cannot remain in their own home and may come into a setting where they can get support from a parent and child foster carer. 

As a parent, you want your child to have the best life possible. But some parents struggle to provide this for a number of reasons. This may be due to trauma in their own childhood; a lack of positive role models; having no experience of parenting and needing to learn skills in a supportive environment; concerns about a parent’s own self-care; or needing a place of safety.

Other reasons may be that a parent has a learning disability, has had a previous child removed from their care or has a history of substance misuse. 

When a concern or support need has been identified by the Local Authority in relation to parenting or the child’s home environment, the Local Authority or Court may seek an alternative environment where families can stay together safely whilst accessing support, developing their skill set, during which time their parenting capacity is further assessed by the relevant Local Authority.

These placements used to be referred to as mother and baby placements, however fathers need support in caring for their children safely too, and as such First Steps Fostering can provide placements for children with either both or one of their parents.

How long does a parent and child placement last for?


​Parents will stay in the foster home with their child or baby until the assessment is completed. This can be any time from 12 weeks up to around 6 months, but placements can be extended if necessary, or if there are safeguarding concerns, they can be concluded sooner. 
If the outcome is positive, the foster parent would support the parent(s) and child back into the community; this could be moving in with family, independent living or supported living.

However, if the outcome is that the baby or child cannot remain in their parents' care, it may be that the child is moved to live with other family members or be placed for adoption. Should this be the case the parent will leave the placement and the foster carer would then support the baby through this process. 

What is the role of a foster parent during a Parent and Child foster placement?

The sooner a child experiences good parenting and a safe and stable environment, the chances of them meeting their milestones and reaching their full potential increases.

As a foster carer, the aim is to help develop the parent(s) full potential to achieve a ‘good-enough’ level of parenting to enable them to care for their children independently. The foster carer’s role involves identifying support needs through assessment and then effectively implementing strategies that meet these learning needs.

The role of a foster carer will be to observe, encourage, model and guide the parent. Foster carers, with the support of a First Steps Social Worker, will provide their observations to Social Services to inform their decision making.

They will give support with independence skills, for example, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, claiming benefits and life skills. The role of the foster parent is also to provide an opportunity for enhancing the self-esteem and social skills of the parent, to support him/her in coming to terms with past trauma, to promote his/her independent living skills and to ensure a positive experience for the parent and child.

What training is available to foster carers? 


Fostering a young family can be challenging as well as rewarding, so you’ll receive specialist training from us as well as support throughout your time as a parent and child foster parent.

The training covers everything relating to caring for, assessing and safeguarding a young family, including:

  • How parents form relationships with their children.

  • How to assess their parenting skills.

  • How to support a parent with a learning disability.

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