How to be a Parent and Child Foster Carer with Kent County Council
Sponsored Editorial: Produced in association with Kent County Council
The reality of parenthood can be daunting for some mums and dads and present a real struggle to cope with caring for a new-born child.
Parent and Child Foster Care is a specialist type of fostering that involves placing a parent, who is experiencing difficulties looking after their baby or young child, in a foster home together.
It is often an alternative to a residential unit and is usually the result of a court referral.
A baby's social worker may decide on this placement if the parent is not coping well and needs extra help but does not have an extended family. The parent is often but not necessarily quite young themselves.
The baby or child and their parents typically lives with the foster carer for around 12 weeks, although in some instances this may be longer if additional support is needed, whilst the parent/s are given help and advice until they can safely care for the baby on their own, or whilst the decision is made that the baby would be best looked after by someone else.
Sue has been a Parent and Child Foster Carer with Kent County Council for eight years and has looked after 18 parents and children during this time.
“Children and their parents have come to live with me for a variety of reasons including domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, unexplained injuries, learning difficulties, challenges with their mental health and neglect," she said.
"The parents often do not have the support of family and friends around them. Whilst some parents need 24-hour supervision, others need a less intense approach and are supported with the necessary guidance and advice in caring for their babies.
“I support the parents that I am working with in forming positive attachments with their babies. Firstly, I must gain their trust, by looking after the parent so that they can begin to do the same for their babies," added Sue.
"They often arrive overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted and as a foster carer you are able to offer a safe place for a parent to take their first steps, sharing your own knowledge and advice until they can do it on their own. The mother or father may be able to have some time out for a couple of hours each week for him/herself and may also be able to have some time with his/her baby on their own depending on needs and risks.”
As a Parent and Child Foster Carer, you are enabling a family the opportunity to continue to stay together during a difficult period of time. This type of fostering is a specialism, which requires specialist training, as it involves taking care of both a young baby and supporting a young mother or father.
Kent Fostering’s assessment and matching process is extremely thorough and will always endeavour to place a parent and child with the most suitable foster carer.
To be a successful Parent and Child Foster Carer, an individual will need: assertiveness and the confidence to lead by example, strong observational skills and the willingness to observe and record how the parent looks after the child, whilst being unobtrusive as well as having patience and encouraging when passing on advice and parenting skills.
Kent Fostering’s foster carers are supported by their dedicated social worker and work closely to contribute to reviews, reporting on the progress of the parent and child.
The service provides a consistent support network, with the aim that both the child and parent are given the best possible chance to develop, grow and bond within a nurturing environment.
Mark Vening, head of Kent Fostering, said: “Parent and child fostering provides benefits for both the baby and parents involved. As a Parent and Child Foster Carer, you will provide a safe environment in which parents can feel secure and supported when caring for their children.
"Also, the children will benefit from living within a stable family environment whilst their mother and/ or father gains invaluable practical and emotional support from you.’’
Parent and Child Foster Carers with Kent County Council have access to a comprehensive training programme with a high level of professional support 24 hours a day.
The service’s offer to foster carers for parents and children includes an enhanced rate of pay (up to £1077.47 per week), two weeks holiday payment at the end of each 12-week arrangement or more (which is in addition to the two weeks that all foster carers for Kent Fostering receive), eight hours day care per week to attend training, support groups and have a break, and access to a Parent and child fostering lead social worker.
Sue added: "Through fostering for Kent County Council I have been equipped with the necessary support and tools to foster a parent and child. I would encourage anyone who is considering fostering to think about the specialism of looking after parents and children together; it really is an incredibly rewarding role.’’
To find out more about Kent Fostering and how you could become a foster carer with Kent County Council, call 03000420002 or visit www.kentfostering.co.uk for more information.