Parent and child fostering involves looking after a child and parent together. This is often the mother, but of course a child's principle carer could also be their father. The child is usually a baby or toddler age.
Parent and child fostering provides a safe, family-based placement for the parent and baby who are placed together. As a foster carer, you would be helping them to develop their own parenting skills whilst ensuring the child was in a safe, secure and nurturing environment.
The role of parent and child carer varies from being required to provide parental care for the child, to helping and encouraging a parent to look after baby properly and develop their parental skills. Some need more practical help right from the word go - how to hold or feed a baby. Some need more emotional support, some need both.
The role also requires a foster carer to observe and record who the parent looks after a child, and take part in assessments. This is because sometimes this type of placement results from a court referral - but not always. A baby's social worker may make the decision for a parent and child fostering placement if the parent isn't coping well and needs extra help but doesn't have an extended family, for example.
Fostering can offer stability and support, certainly for young women in care who become pregnant or those who get thrown out of the parental home and end up in care because they have become pregnant. The baby benefits from being brought up in a family environment and the young mothers gain tremendously from the support and advice offered by the foster carer. It also enables some teenage mothers to complete their schooling or to have a job.
Placement lengths can vary from a few weeks to a few months. In addition to the more traditional skills and qualities that foster carers usually have, a parent and child carer will need to be able to be assertive when necessary, discreet, show confidence in what they are doing, show sensitivity to parent and baby and be prepared to make the 24-hour commitment that comes with having a small baby in the home.