The leading charity, The Fostering Network, has completed an annual survey whose aim was to establish which types of Foster placements were in most demand. Unsurprisingly, these were for teenagers and sibling groups. The category that came third was parent and child placements, which had not been expected. The demand for these particular placements may be increasing due to the reduction in other kinds of support such as residential mother and baby units. Why has this happened? A common view is that such measures are the inevitable consequence of financial cutbacks. The director of the ‘Social Care Network’, Jackie Sanders stated that such units had been cut back – “reduced or shut down because of austerity.”
There is now real pressure to be able to find Foster Carers who will will accept parent and child placements. Around 57% of fostering services approached said they were working hard to find more carers willing to do this. It is very different from looking after a child – or even a number of children. The placement itself begins on a different basis beginning with an assessment period – usually lasting for around 12 to 14 weeks. There is always a care plan in place, but the emphasis is on providing guidance and support for the parent to help them look after their baby or toddler. Foster carers receive additional training which revolves around them helping the parent to develop parenting skills. This means that there is a fair bit of supervision: the carer needs to know when to intervene and when not to. The name of the game is to enable a usually very young parent to acquire the skills and confidence to care for an infant and keep the family together.
This type of placement is also on the increase as children’s services may not always be sure if the child could be at risk: austerity may well have brought its own pressures to bear upon vulnerable young families – many of whom are already disadvantaged – with more coming into care.
Foster placement types should be anticipated.
It is a fact that over 9,000 new foster families are needed in the UK this year alone. The emergence of the need for more parent and child foster placements should not be coming as a surprise. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services was apparently unaware of the rising demand for this type of foster placement. The ADCS specialise in the development, commissioning and delivery of services to children, young people and their families: their areas include – education, health, early years and social care services. What is apparent is how valuable the work is The Fostering Network does in measuring all the factors which feed into fostering service provision.
The effort should be made to recruit for these specialist areas, rather than a blanket call for ‘more foster carers’ – many of whom may not actually be interested in fostering a parent and child. Paying attention to tailoring the right, or favourable, message could pay dividends: some foster carers report that having a parent an child in their home, enables them to use the skills they acquired bringing up their own children. And this can be very rewarding – it is a positive experience being a role model and helping to build a family. Such messages could prove highly appealing to potential new foster carers and they would be aimed at people who have the valuable experience of bringing up their own children.
It does have to be anticipated that it can be a painful wrench if the decision is made that it is not in the best interests of the parent and child to remain together. But even in this situation, it has at least been determined it was not a realistic option – allowing, hopefully, for a better solution to be found for all.
A ‘Rainbow Rewards’ bonus scheme if you foster.
At Rainbow we need carers making us happy to pay a bonus of £500 if you are a carer and in a position to refer someone to become a foster carer. After the first placement has been made (following your referral) we pay you the bonus. Already an approved foster carer – with a long term foster placement – we’ll make it easy to transfer: if you do, you will also qualify for a bonus. Rainbow are also happy to provide information on a whole range of fostering topics: how long does it take to become a foster carer? And how much do private fostering agencies pay? As well as how much do foster carers get paid a month – what benefits can I claim if I’m a foster carer? These are all questions that frequently come up.
Rainbow answer your foster care queries.
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