Parent and child fostering is a very rewarding process. Bringing a young parent and their child into your home, caring for them and guiding them through a very difficult and confusing time in their life is a selfless and wonderful thing to do. That being said, parent and child fostering is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly. You need to consider whether you can offer the young parent and their child everything they need before you invite them into your home. Here at Blue Sky Fostering, we provide extensive training for you and we have put together our ‘top ten tips for parents and child fostering’ to help you decide whether you have what it takes.
It is very important that you are fully prepared for your parent and child placement. If you haven’t prepared properly, this may result in a negative experience for you and more importantly for the young parent coming into your home. You should make sure you have a room set up and ready for the parent and child and that you have spoken to the rest of your family about them. It is also advisable that you find out as much information about the parent as you can from us. At Blue Sky Fostering we pass on all of the information we are given to us by the placing local authority but if you have any specific questions please do ask us and we will try to get any additional information for you.
2. Welcome them into your home with open arms
The first day will be very daunting for the young parent. When they first arrive, you could sit down for a cup of tea and a casual chat, reassuring them that this is their home and a safe place. Give them a tour of the house and show them to their room. Let them get unpacked and settle in and offer assistance if they want it.
3. Set clear house rules
Setting clear house rules and making sure your placement parent and child stick to them is extremely important. It creates stability and sets boundaries for them, which is something they may be craving having not experienced them before. Sit down and talk them through the rules; try to include everything so there are no grey areas. You can talk about smoking, visitors, curfews and whatever else you feel is appropriate.
4. Clearly define your role
You need to clearly define what role you will play in the young person’s baby’s life. It is not your responsibility to become the parent for that baby, however you should be on hand to support the young parent when needed. Ensure that they know you are assessing their parenting capabilities and that you want to help them to be the best parent they can be. Discuss how often you are willing to babysit so that the young parent can go out and enjoy being a young person with their friends.
5. Urge the young parent to engage in available services
The young parent may not be aware of all the services available to help them become a better parent and succeed in life. You should have a talk with them about the services available, whether that be parenting classes, help with housing, education or employment and try to encourage them to engage with these services. You should understand that they may feel uncertain about reaching out for help because of the stigma attached to parents in care and their fear of social services, so try to be as reassuring as possible.
6. Help them to develop parenting skills
As a foster carer, you will have some experience of caring for children, whether they be your own or someone else’s. You should draw upon those experiences and offer advice and guidance to the young parent to try and develop their parenting skills. Young people in foster care do not always have a parental role model in their life, so they will need help along the way. Don’t do everything for them, encourage them to adopt a hands on approach with their child and teach them the best way to care for the child.
7. Develop your relationship and chemistry with the young parent
The most successful parent and child fostering examples come from families who had a great chemistry and strong relationship with the young parent in their care. Don’t make them feel that they are just there to be assessed. Encourage them to socialise with you. Take them on day trips or just have sit down family dinners every evening. This is a great chance for you to chat with the young parent and get to know them better.
8. Engage the young parent in making decisions about their future
Part of your role as parent and child foster carer will be to help the young parent make decisions about their future. It is not your role to decide the future for them, but you should encourage them to talk about the future and what direction they are heading in.
9. Offer consistent support throughout the placement
Your support for the young parent should be consistent throughout their placement. They may find it difficult to open up to you at first but if you maintain a consistently supportive and interested attitude throughout, hopefully this will encourage them to open up to you. Make sure you always listen to the young parent and make them feel able to confide in you. Consistency is important as it gives the young parent a feeling of stability and over time they will learn to trust you more.
10. Offer continued support when the placement ends
Finally, it is important for the young parent to know that you will still be there for them after their placement ends if this is what they wish. This highlights the commitment of a foster carer. The relationship you build with the young parent and their child should be a strong one and they should feel that they can still turn to you for advice and guidance after the placement ends.
If you feel that you have the skills, determination and knowledge necessary to become a parent and child foster carer, get in touch with us today. Alternatively, you can visit the parent and child fostering page on our website for more information.