Parent and Child placements are a specialist area of the Fostering service.
They are an increasingly popular option for Social Services and the legal system to use, rather than taking a child in to care alone. Due to this, there is a growing shortage of carers who offer this type of placement.
The Parent and Child placement provider (previously known as Mother and Baby) works together with the child and their birth parent/s in their own home in order to help to improve parenting skills. This will enable the birth parents and the children to stay together, and therefore increase the likelihood that the parent and child can bond in those crucial early months together.
It also allows the child and their parent to stay in their local area, offering them stability and consistency in their lives. The other option is for the parent and their child to be sent to a Parenting Assessment Centre. Unfortunately these are expensive and there are none of these in the Southampton area, so parents and their children would need to be relocated, far away from their family and community networks.
The carers do not provide parental care to the child (unless this is part of the plan for the child) but help and encourage the parent to develop their own skills, by support and role-modelling. The Parent and Child carer has an important role observing and recording how the parent looks after the child, and this will help the department in making decisions about the child’s longer term plan.
In the majority of cases it will be a mother and her baby who will be placed, however this isn't always the case. Many different types of parents may need support, supervision and guidance in their parenting, and this may be identified when the child is slightly older (usually up to the age of 2). It may be that the parents do not have family in the local area that can support them, or the family is not in a position to help.
Working closely with a specialist social worker, a Parent and Child placement provider will offer support and assess parenting skills with a view to changing inappropriate or negative behaviour. The ideal outcome is that at the end of the placement the birth parent will be able to parent their child in a suitable, independent manner.
Parent and Child carers will work with Social Services to identify what support and specialist services the Parent and their child will need to access in the future to ensure continued stability and improvement.
These placements are exciting and challenging and draw upon a specific set of skills. They can be exceptionally rewarding as early intervention can make a huge amount of difference and keep children out of the care system and with their family.
For full information on the financial support that's available for becoming a Parent and Child carer please see the Fostering Finance document.
For more specific information relating to the scheme please complete the First Steps to Fostering enquiry form or e-mail us using the details below.