Fostering Parents and Babies Together

Standards & Regulations

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4:


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Don’t Forget to Ask
  3. Why do we Provide Parent and Child Fostering?
  4. Type 1 - A Voluntary Arrangement by the Local Authority Where the Child is not Looked After
  5. Type 2 - A Voluntary Placement by the Local Authority Where the Child is Looked After
  6. Type 3 - A Voluntary Placement by the Local Authority Where Both the Child and Parent are Looked After
  7. Type 4 - An Arrangement Directed by the Courts Where the Child is Looked After
  8. Placement with Parents
  9. The Usual Fostering Limit


1. Introduction

This chapter sets out the different types of parent and child fostering which you may be asked to do. Parent and child fostering can be very rewarding to provide as you will be teaching parenting skills to help a young or needy adult parent. However but it can also be very complex and foster carers should be sure that they understand what to do if something goes wrong and they need to step in to protect a child. Foster carers should make sure that they are clear what kind of arrangement this is, because the action you take will depend on each legal situation. For all parent and child placements you should be clear that you will not keep any secrets about the risks to a child and your assessment will be shared openly with the social worker and other professionals. You should keep a written log of significant events which may be required by the childs social worker. You may even have to give evidence in court.


2. Don’t Forget to Ask

Is the aim of this placement to teach parenting or to monitor and observe?

Are there risks to your household from parents mental health, drug or alcohol use or domestic violence?

What will the baby’s fathers role be?

Where will the baby sleep?

What will I be responsible for, ie baby’s feeds, clothing etc

How much supervision am I being asked to provide?

Is the matter before the court?

Who is undertaking the social work assessment for the parent?


3. Why do we Provide Parent and Child Fostering?

A local authority sometimes wishes to commission an assessment of a parent’s ability to safeguard and promote the welfare of his or her child, to inform its decision making about the provision of support services or intervention through care proceedings. Sometimes the court will request such an assessment within the framework of care proceedings. Most commonly these are arrangements for mothers and their babies.

The sections below set out the different scenarios whereby arrangements may be made for a parent (or parents) and their child (or children) to live with approved foster carers for the purposes of an assessment.


4. Type 1 - A Voluntary Arrangement by the Local Authority Where the Child is not Looked After

Where a local authority wish to assess a parent's parenting capacity in the context of support provided to the child/family under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 or pre care proceedings, this would need to be with the agreement of the parent. The local authority may decide to make an arrangement with the family to live with a local authority foster carer to make the assessment, rather than to make use of a residential family centre.

Since in this case the child is not looked after by the local authority, none of the provisions of the Children Act 1989 relating to looked after children will apply, and the foster carer will not be acting in their capacity as a foster carer under the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011. In such a case the local authority will need to be satisfied that the arrangement is appropriate, in the sense that the foster carers have the necessary skills to participate in the assessment, and will not place at risk the welfare of any foster child who is placed in the household.


5. Type 2 - A Voluntary Placement by the Local Authority Where the Child is Looked After

In a situation where the child is looked after by the council and the parents are 18 or older, the provisions relating to looked after children will apply in relation to the child only. The child will be placed with the foster carer under section 22 of the Children Act 1989, and the social work team has a duty to make the most appropriate placement available for both the parent and child. In making the placement it will therefore need to consider the skills and capacity of the foster carer, although the assessment of the parent’s ability is not covered by the 2011 Regulations.

Although the child will be fostered by the foster carer, the child’s parent or parents will also be living with the child in the foster carer's household. As the parent will not be a looked after child, the provisions in respect of looked after children will not apply to them, regardless of whether the parent is under 18 or is older or has previously been a looked after child.

In these circumstances the parent will still hold parental responsibility in respect of their child, and be living in the same household as the child’s foster carer. It will therefore be vital that respective roles and arrangements for delegated authority are clarified when the arrangements are being made. These must be set out in the child’s Placement Plan and Care plan. The foster carer’s task in relation to undertaking an assessment of the parent’s capabilities will not be governed by the 2011 Regulations, but will be closely matched with their responsibilities towards the looked after child.

The fostering service will need to satisfy themselves that the proposed arrangements will not adversely affect the foster carer’s responsibilities towards other children. Any necessary support should be provided to enable the arrangements to succeed. As with any placement when another child is already placed with the foster carer, the social worker for that child would need to agree to the new placement in your home.

For the purposes of the 2011 Regulations, a parent living with a foster carer in the above circumstances is a member of the foster carer’s household. The fostering service’s safeguarding policy must include a statement of measures to be taken to safeguard children placed with foster carers before any arrangements are made for a parent and child to join the household. The 2011 Regulations allow for CRB checks on parents to be obtained but these are not required to be taken before placements.


6. Type 3 - A Voluntary Placement by the Local Authority Where Both the Child and Parent are Looked After

This applied where a young parent lives in a foster home with their child and they are both looked after children. They both will have their own Placement plan and care plan. Again it is important to make a written plan setting out who is doing what for the parent and child, how finances will be arranged to make sure the parent learns to develop  the skills to look after his or her child.

The placement plan will focus on the young parents own development, preparation for independent living and helping them to meet the needs of their child. However the Placement plan should also record what steps you will take if you have any concern about the wellbeing of parent and child.


7. Type 4 - An Arrangement Directed by the Courts Where the Child is Looked After 

You may be asked where care proceedings are in progress, to contribute towards the social workers assessment for court of the child and their parents. The placement is made this way because of concern that the parent will need to lot of help or supervision to look after their child. Keeping the child safe will be your priority. You will need to be very sure what the plan will be, before the placement is made, for example, will the child be sleeping in a room with the parent or elsewhere. You will be responsible for the welfare of the young child as a foster child.

If the child is subject to an interim care order under section 38(6) and the court directs a parenting assessment, the local authority may decide that the parent and child will live with a foster carer for the purpose. This will be a placement of a looked after child by the local authority and so the placement will be governed by the 2011 Regulations.


8. Placement with Parents

Children who are in Care may also be placed with their parents (or someone else who has parental responsibility for them) under regulations 15 - 20 of the 2010 Regulations. While such children are looked after children and fall within the 2010 Regulations, they do not fall within the 2011 Regulations as they are not fostered children. This includes where a child is placed with their parents and the parents and that child then live with foster carers.


9. The Usual Fostering Limit

The usual fostering limit applies to the placement of looked after children, and so a parent who is living in a parent and child arrangement with a foster carer does not count towards that limit unless he or she is themselves a looked after child. However, the impact of the parent being within the household must be taken into account in considering the placement of any looked after children.