Parent and child fostering is a highly specialised form of foster care. But how do people end up doing this kind of fostering? Especially as most, if not all, recruitment has been focused on getting people interested in mainstream foster care. Parent and child fostering has tended to rely on ordinary foster carers responding to need and the particular set of circumstances relating to a placement. The majority of carers did not start their fostering careers with the goal of parent and child fostering. This obviously meant that they were not usually assessed or specifically approved at the outset for this type of fostering.
It is worth making a few general observations about fostering before going into the detail of parent and child fostering. Being any type of foster carer is very different from other professional child care work. Most obviously, it takes place in individuals own homes and is a 24 hour a day commitment. In some cases, it can rely upon the acceptance and support of other family members. For applicants and those very new to fostering, it is understandably hard to predict how these circumstances will make them feel. They also have to adjust to the fact of providing day-to-day care whilst not having parental responsibility. Foster carers also have to get used to being part of what used to be termed the ‘Team around the Child.’ And parent and child fostering will necessarily involve the input from childcare professionals including a close working relationship with a supervising social worker. It is a unique role. Even for people who may have plenty of prior experience of working with children and young people, it can be challenging. It can take some getting used to.
Over time there has been an increasing understanding of the need to make clear the specific requirements needed to be met for parent and child fostering. Fostering organisations have been responding to this. A ‘Parent and Child Fostering Assessment Report’ has been developed by CoramBAAF. It has been developed to be used with prospective parent and child foster carers. And for those newly approved carers, the report is designed to be used along with the Form F. For existing foster carers who have developed an interest in this kind of fostering, this assessment report can also be used. It will form a part of their ongoing training, assessment and fostering record.
The Parent and Child Fostering Assessment Report.
Every fostering application has a context. That is because everyone who comes to foster care will have a unique set of life experiences. With general fostering, perhaps the most crucial part of the initial recruitment process is understanding a person’s motivations for fostering. For parent and child fostering, it is important to establish an applicant’s motivation and what they expect to get from this type of fostering. How will they meet their needs and expectations? What at the outset is their understanding of what this specialised role involves? The report provides a framework to define and explore all the issues. An applicant should, as a result of the discussions the report facilitates, reach an understanding of what will be expected of them. Much of the detail will, of course, be heavily influenced by whether or not the applicant has previous experience of fostering.
This raises a fundamental question. Should parent and child foster carers have had general fostering experience before moving to parent and child fostering? It is felt by many within fostering that there are advantages for people in gaining experience of mainstream fostering before becoming involved with the specific challenges of parent and child fostering. others think that making this a general requirement may not be the way to move forward. Some potential applicants may well have specific experience meaning they are only interested in this type of fostering. With such a serious shortage of foster carers generally, it is important that no potential applicant be discouraged. Again, the CoramBAAF report should facilitate the discussions that will delineate everyone’s aspirations and expectations.
So who might be the kinds of people who could go straight into parent and child fostering? Some fostering service providers make a point of recruiting potential carers for parent and child from residential settings, paediatrics or social work. Such people may already be completely aware of this type of fostering role. With such knowledge, they are completely committed to the idea from the outset. And, as well as possessing transferable skills, they would be coming to the role fresh. Conversely, some argue that existing more mainstream foster carers may have developed ideas and practices some of which may have to be ‘unlearned’. The example is of new carers without prior experience of fostering being better able to stand back and let young parents manage the child care task. For an established foster carer, it can be very easy to take the lead role. This can undermine the ability of a parent to gain confidence in looking after their child. Some fostering providers are of the opinion that some of their best parent and child fostering is done by those without any previous fostering experience.
Rainbow Fostering Services are looking for foster carers.
Our current parent and child foster care training opportunities.
Providing parent and child fostering care will require special training, commitment and focus. It often commonly suits people who have brought up their own families. This provides them with a wealth of experiences to draw on – providing a solid foundation on which to add the specialist training we give.
Just like therapeutically trained foster carers, parent and child fostering will often call for a willingness to work within a team setting. This is as the level of support on a day-to-day basis may well be high. The foster carer is having to assess the needs and development of both the mother (sometimes the father) along with those of a vulnerable infant.
For general foster care applications – a checklist:
You must have a spare room for a child. Foster carers should also enjoy reasonable fitness. This is because fostering will require energy and commitment. And crucially, all carers must be committed to supporting a child or young person through their education. A foster carer should naturally enjoy the company of children and young people. They should want to be a part of their developing world.
Although many children coming into care have had traumatic and stressful experiences, childhood should still be a time of happiness, personal growth and exploration. Foster carers must work to help children to have a childhood they can look back on positively. So you should most definitely have a sense of fun and adventure! This is also true for those engaged in parent and child fostering.
There’s currently an urgent need to recruit foster carers for all types of fostering: foster care fro sibling groups; fostering teenagers; foster carer for children with complex needs are examples. We are supporting applications however the coronavirus pandemic has meant we have had to make some changes to our normal procedures. Anyone applying will be given all the guidance required to set up an online initial conversation on Skype. The feedback from our applicants indicates is this works very well – a process they find straightforward and reassuring.
We have provided an extensive library of blogs. These are regularly added to and will introduce you into many aspects of the world of fostering. Rainbow is committed to building the knowledge and career ambitions of all our foster carers. A big part of our ethos is the belief carers should be empowered by the knowledge.
Rainbow fostering have been finding loving, stable foster homes for over twenty years. We have been rated ‘Outstanding in all areas’ by Ofsted. Hopefully, this will reassure all our applicants they will receive the best training, support and opportunities for career development during their fostering careers. Parent and child fostering is just one area of care to consider. Call 0330 311 2845 for more information.
Today’s recommended blog is to be found at:http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/foster-carers-have-an-opportunity-in-these-difficult-times/
The Cover-19 pandemic has challenged everyone in the country in different ways. The situation is changing constantly, so we advise regularly visiting the Government’s website for information – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus And you can find more general information about fostering in general by visiting the Government website – https://www.gov.uk/becoming-foster-parent/types-of-foster-care
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